Mission of organic farming on waste speace in Chandigarh shcool may become reality

March 11, 2018 04:29 PM

Punjab News Express/Y.S.Rana
CHANDIGARH: After herbal now government as well private schools and colleges in Chandigarh will go organic if the vision of Rahul Sharma turns to reality. “Look at all this wasted space” says he, a city- based organic farm expert- pointing toward 100 of acres in educational institutes in Chandigarh. He embarked upon a vision--why such land should not be used to produce organic food? He planned on community-driven initiative aimed at promoting organic farming on vacant land in schools and colleges where foodscape and landscape can go side by side.   

If all goes well the mission organic Chandigarh initiative of Rahul Sharma will bring organic food gardens on the campus of educational institution in Chandigarh.  At present, Rahul is working as a volunteer with Kheti Virasat Mission which has strength of 8000 organic farmers across the country to create a food garden in the MCM DAV College for girls in Chandigarh.

The project involves classroom workshops and field work. Students are taught how to make a living soil, how to sow and germinate seeds and how to make organic bio fertilisers etc. This pilot project will finish at the end of April and first organic food garden will be there. He is also collaborating with the UT Education Department to develop such gardens in the city schools where children will be involved in taking care of the plants and the harvest to supplement their midday meals. His mission would also assist in marketing the produce, he says.

He is confident that it would cultivate an idea that landscaping and foodscaping go side by side. It will bring students to sustainable food systems education and engagement,” he hopes and added that he was in a contact mission with the authorities to provide him some land on the campus.  He feels that time has come when foodscape and landscapes go side by side.

Building upon the recognition how young adults and students can contribute to this vision and be informed and active participants in social change. He planned to take organic farm in maximum educational institutions across the region.

He hopes that such an initiative will be a win-win strategy for both the farmers and the students. The arrangements help farmers gain more of the produce, benefit local economies and help students gain access to locally produced nutrious, healthy and fresh on-the-campus-produce.        

Rahul is an organic farmer and also designs Food Gardens. After working in a corporate job for 20years, he left everything and decided to do and promote sustainable ways of farming. He converted 4 acres of his ancestral farm in village Mustafabad of district Kapurthala in Punjab to fully organic. Where other farmers in the village are still in the cycle of wheat and rice, while he produced nine crops in his first year of farming! He grows specialized varieties of wheat, black rice, Haldi, mustard, sesame and pulses.

 “Farmers are growing poison, and we are being served poison on our plates,” and according to him ‘go organic’ is the answer. Need of the hour is not to aware the people but also they need to be given an alternative, he says. And this alternative is growing food wherever possible. People must learn how to grow food in urban areas. People must be trained about organic farming. Research shows that, children who were exposed to farming at early stages grow up to make healthier choices when deciding what to cook or eat. EOM

Why is a “foodscape”? People hire specialized companies to prepare the green spaces around their buildings. These landscape designers will give you manicured lawns (which take up huge amounts of water to survive) and they plant trees which are not native to the region (bringing imbalance to the surrounding environment). Rahul’s idea is to convert a part of these spaces to foodscapes. Start growing seasonal herbs and vegetables. Start involving students of these institutions to sow and take care of these plants. There is far greater joy in harvesting something you have sown by your own hands, he says.

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