Our Intern (Environmental Studies) reflects on Harvest Festival

Author:
Trisha Banerjee
January 12, 2023

I am Trisha Banerjee, a B.A. (Hons) Student of Environmental Studies at OP Jindal University, with a passion for tackling pressing environmental issues through advocacy, effective communication, and field work. I’m currently interning at Organo Eco Habitats. I had the opportunity to attend the Harvest Festival organised by Organo Et School (OES), an educational initiative by Organo, and have reflected on my experience in this article. 

The Harvest Festival, held by OES, took place on 8th January, a bright chilly Sunday morning, with families arriving at the farm in high spirits. The itinerary of the day was to harvest Spinach and Coriander, followed by preparing Jeevamrutham-- a biofertilizer-- and finishing off with planting Papaya saplings. As a first-time attendee, I had no idea what to expect from the events and myself, as I had no experience with these activities, however, I was excited to learn. 

Pruning vs Uprooting - Harvest Methods

The festival started off with everyone learning the proper way to harvest Spinach and Coriander after which we were asked to start harvesting the crops. While the initial going was slow with people slowly getting the hang of using different techniques to harvest the two crops, everyone, especially the children, were thrilled to be working with their hands and seeing the end product: the harvest. It was wonderful to see people getting comfortable with getting their hands dirty, realizing the importance of the insects that they found and respecting their role in the ecosystem, and even walking barefoot on the Earth. 

Breakfast at the Farm

The first activity was followed by breakfast where families lined up for a quick break before the beginning of the next event. The menu consisted of Idli, sambar, sweet pongal, lemonade and chutney. To hasten the process and ensure everyone gets their food quickly, I helped out the catering team in serving, especially the kids who came back for second helpings of the lemonade. The work of harvesting on the farm really does work up a healthy appetite and makes food taste even better.

Jeeva+Amrutham - Elixir for Soil Health

After breakfast, we all moved on to the second activity. Preparing the biofertilizer required two ingredients most children were hesitant to use: cow dung and cow urine. However, with a little prodding they were all using their hands to mix the ingredients regardless of their earlier reluctance. Just goes to show that perhaps familiarity and understanding of something makes us more comfortable with them. 

Planting Papaya in Tree Pits

After everyone was finished, we moved onto the third task which was Papaya planting. We learnt the correct way to plant a sapling and how a little bit of vermicompost goes a long way in ensuring plant health. At the end of the three events, I felt a sense of accomplishment and contentment that I’m sure everyone gathered also shared. What enhanced the experience even further was that we got to experience it with our families. Participating in such activities together also allowed us to spend quality time with them and my mother and I, both ardent nature lovers, got to enjoy them together.

Simple activities - Complex ecosystems

In theory, the three activities were fairly simple in nature; however, the lessons we’ve learnt from them are equally complex. By working with our hands and feeling the plant and the soil we grow an attachment with the food we’re harvesting. Because of the way our food systems have become, most people have no idea where their food comes from leading to a sense of detachment from our food. This results in us not appreciating it and being wasteful. 

Lessons Learnt from the Harvest Festival

Actively being involved in the process right from the beginning cultivates a respect for our food, and for our farmers and the hard work they put in. It also familiarises us with the life living in the soil and the soil itself which is often thought to be lifeless but in actuality, contains more living organisms than above ground. This life is slowly declining due to uninhibited use of pesticides and synthetic fertilisers. Encouraging the use of natural fertilisers such as vermicompost and Jeevamrutham ensures that at least on a household level we try to keep our plants and soil healthy. In addition, during the preparation of Jeevamrutham, we were advised to support local farmers that grow organic food to support healthy and sustainable farming. 

While this event has helped to change or re-affirm mindsets of many adults, it was an especially important event for the children. Working with nature instils a respect for it and greater appreciation of our role in the grand scheme of things. As they grow up, this next environmentally aware generation will be poised to continue the environmental movement as well as introduce changes which can help protect our planet. 

My biggest Take-away

As an Environmental studies student, we often discuss the importance of grassroot level initiatives to achieve ambitious goals for nature preservation. Events such as this which can change people’s attitude and instil a love for nature are where they start. 

If you are a student like me and would like to be part of such activities or intern with OES, please express your interest to oes@organo.co.in and by phone 9154100775 today!

You can find OES’s upcoming workshops here → https://www.organoetschool.co.in/registration  

About Organo Et School (OES)

We recognize that for any positive impact to be sustainable, it must be long-term and inter-generational. Organo Et School strives to empower people to embrace eco-living mindsets, behaviours and habits.

Organo Et School is a learning initiative set up by Organo in 2017 and has been facilitating field visits and workshops for Schools and Interest Groups. Organo Et School has had over 25+ schools, 6500+ students and 3000+ adults participate over the last 5 years.

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