A bunch of city kids learns to thresh hay, sow saplings and walk the cows…

This was a ‘field trip’ like no other. At a time when traditional farmers are struggling to persist with farming as a profession, a bunch of high school kids from the city have begun to find farming fun, thanks to a farming workshop organised by Parampara, a city-based organisation. These kids got to thresh hay, sow seeds and saplings, walk with cows and sit around the fields at Bharathiya Vedic Krishi Parampara, the organisation’s cow-centric and eco-sensitive farm near Guduvancheri.

Food in new light

“I didn’t realise so much of effort went into making food. I don’t think I’ll waste food henceforth,” says seventh grader M. Joshini. “It would be interesting to have farming as one of our activities at school,” says S. Pragati. Meanwhile, Ashwin Narayan has a clear-cut plan for his career — “I will study at IIT and then take to farming.”

The harvest festival Pongal or Makar Sankranti is our thanksgiving to Nature — to elements such as soil, rain and air, life forms such as cattle that sustain agriculture, and to the farming community that works through the year to create food.

“We have ritualised the festival today, losing sight of its meaning. Meanwhile, our kids have a terrible disconnect with farmers and farming, and have no idea how they get their food. We wanted to introduce urban kids to farming and feel connected to Nature,” says Manjulika Jhaver, who conceptualised this farm that operates on the premise of reverence for Nature.

At the farm, the kids also got introduced to indigenous trees closely such as the neem, vilvam, peepul, and tulsi linked to traditional farming, to the making of organic manure and pesticides, water channelling and management, farming rhythms, and biological management of pests.

Former Council of Scientific and Industrial Research plant scientist M.V. Vishwanathan walked the kids through the fields, giving them a hands-on lesson on identifying plant types, their morphology, adaptation mechanisms, life cycles and their relevance to man.

Incidentally, since the phrase ‘we sow what we reap’ originated from agriculture, this free farming workshop was also a platform for young kids to get a tangible lesson on this basic moral value. “We could teach both moral values and the nuances of agriculture in a lively manner at the farm,” says Manju Bose, a Social Science teacher from one of the participating schools.

Schools interested in giving their students this farming experience can contact Parampara at 2499-1516.