Fallen leaves from trees, old newspapers, vegetable peel, sawdust…students of a few city schools have been getting their hands dirty mixing all these to make natural fertilisers for their school gardens.
St. James’ School has a pit of its own, while at Akshar School a flowerpot acts as one. “We have a pit behind the school canteen. Everyday we collect fallen leaves and branches from our school garden and put them in the pit. We also collect organic waste from the canteen. This is done everyday after break,” said Ishesh Agarwal of Class XII at St. James’.
The boys also segregate the waste and cut up the branches before putting them in the pit to hasten the process. “We put sawdust and use a spade to speed up the decomposition after which we cover the pit with soil. Rain and sunshine further help in the decomposition. When it does not rain we put water in the pit ourselves,” said Simon Saumyajit Ampett, Class XII, St. James’ School.
When the fertiliser is ready, students put them in flowerpots and school gardens. “This improves the texture of the soil and makes the plants grow faster and better. We started this initiative some months ago. Apart from using these natural fertilisers in school, we also take them home,” said Suyagya Bhowsinghka, Class IX, Akshar School.
The faculty at Akshar ensures that special children are part of this activity. “We include both children with special needs and mainstream children in all our activities. They all make natural fertilisers once every term. On the day of parent-teacher meeting, we give parents the manure their children have made,”said Jayanti Neogi, senior school geography and environment co-ordinator, Akshar. “The idea is to make children take the ideas home. Students are the future. They will take to the future what we teach them today.”
Manjuli Mukherjee, teacher in-charge of the senior Nature Club at St. James’, said students are made aware of the harmful effects of chemical fertilisers. “These fertilisers also cause acidification of the soil as they contain phosphorous. They make the soil lose its natural fertility causing air pollution. Apart from this they are expensive.”
The students at Akshar also engage in other environment-friendly activities such as recycling pens. “We collect all our empty refills and old pens and send them for recycling to Linc once every few months. We have a box where all of us drop our refills and pens and once the box is full, we send it for recycling,” said Aankhi Poddar, Class IX.