At our Doddabele farm, we conducted a nature workshop for children, one that gave them insight into how we grow our food. No YouTube, apps or TV or Insta filters. This was nature in the raw, with all its edges, bumps and rough-hewn beauty.
It was learning about farming without being hooked to the screen. We crafted a tactile experience for the kids. One which favoured touch, feel and experiential learning. Here getting their hands dirty and piquing their curiosity was what we set out to achieve.
Our team of five hosted the group of kids and their parents, about fifteen totally. The team patiently ran them through all that we do at our farm.
They were taken on a little journey of the farm and its inception.
A farm is born
From how we first started with five biomass plants that helped infuse carbon and nitrogen into the soil and kept increasing them till the soil was rich enough with nutrients to make the transition into a full-fledged farm – one that mimics the biodiversity of a forest.
With the addition of poultry and a fish pond, the eco-system increased in breadth and vibrancy. What really triggered their interest was that hen droppings were good for the soil that the veggies were grown in! That the veggie waste came back to the farm and the fish pond water was great for irrigating the land – considering the richness of fish droppings that it contained. See and tell didn’t get better than this!
From farm to table
They were run through the ‘farm to home chain’ and how a plant travels from a seed to germination; from a plant to a seed bearer; and then on to a source of food for all of us. The kids were all ears as their minds kept throwing questions making us all smile. What captured their interest was the completely integrated eco-system at the farm that exhibited a complex chain which was like a baton relay of nature and its elements.
They were shown how to raise a bed – from planting seeds to applying compost, watering and taking care of it. We showed them the farm (Desi) seed production zone and how we retained the seedlings from the first two harvests for the next planting seasons.
They then went to the poultry zone where they fed the hens, and the ducks actually put on quite a strutting show for them. The day finished with the kids trying their hand at some fishing and actually getting more than just a few bites.
They were full of questions – a million actually. How are seeds made? Was chicken poop actually a good fertiliser? And where are all the papayas?
The team patiently answered them all.
What delighted us was that the kids remained excited throughout the trip. They got their hands dirty, ran around with the ducks and immersed themselves in nature.
They now would look at fruit, vegetable or seed in a shop and look back on their experience at our farm.