CHENNAI: For the first time, the Tamil Nadu government will be partnering with private firms to set up kitchen gardens in the State-run schools and for which first priority would be given to residential institutions.
The primary focus of the kitchen garden is to ensure that the student from the residential school is healthy by consuming the freshly grown fruits and vegetables on the campus and they are provided with first-hand learning opportunities about the nutrition aspects of vegetables and their consumption.
Accordingly, the horticulture skill development classes will be provided weekly where students involved in the activity will get exposed to knowledge about the whole procedure of kitchen gardening through both practical and theoretical understanding.
Quoting a proposal, a senior official from the School Education Department told DT Next that the team for the project will comprise the Schools, the Samagra Shiksha team, and members of the firms who would engage in the monitoring process as well as creating awareness among students to carry on with the process of kitchen gardening and make the best use of the project of the state.
He said during the first phase of the project, will ensure learning opportunities for over 2,000 students about nurturing the plants and activities involved in growing vegetables from the beginning with the help of the firms.
"The firms, which were selected, will deliver their service and equipment for setting up of kitchen and nutrition gardens, grow fruits and vegetables and conduct lessons in a period of one year", he said.
Stating that in each school, the headmaster and the warden of the hostels will be responsible for monitoring the whole procedure., he said the gardener appointed will be responsible for keeping track of the progress of the students in works related to the kitchen garden especially those related to nurturing plants and seeds.
He said the selected firms will provide a 12-month garden plan and agricultural calendar before setting up the kitchen garden to conduct the activity accordingly. "Each school will allot an area of minimum 1000 sq/ft for setting up the kitchen garden".
Pointing out that all equipment required for growing vegetables and maintaining the kitchen garden throughout the year is to be provided by the agriculture company and proper inventory in this connection has to be maintained and kept in safe custody, the official said "nutritionists will supervise the work of the students and gardeners and should monitor the growth of the plants at least once every two months".
The official said that the selected firms will ensure procuring seeds and manures according to the topography, and climate of each school’s locations (as specified in the agricultural calendar) and cultivate the seeds into plants following the depth and spacing directions carefully. He said that during the second phase further schools will be selected to set up kitchen gardens.