To inculcate the right art of cooking slowly and eating.
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In the current times, generation after generation is getting used to life in the fast lane. Where everything is quick. Everything is available at the click of a button.
All the advancements in technology are great. In fact quite a boon to our existence. But at times, we can’t deny the need to just pause and slow down. We all feel the stress coming on from our fast-paced lives. Don’t we?
So does our environment.
Our environment needs some attention and needs it right now. Who better to make this change than the leaders of tomorrow?
“Organo At School” is an initiative with the idea of spreading awareness about sustainable living among school children. Organo has been set up keeping the environment at the center by creating an urban farming community. While it is quite a unique concept in India, wouldn’t it be awesome if the principles were adopted more broadly?
The Organo community is an inspiration or a role model for all things nature-friendly. Our hope is that the future generations will be more open to adopting a lifestyle that respects all elements of nature. At Organo, we want to bring this hope to life by spreading awareness. Which is why “Organo At School” is such an important initiative for us.
Through this program, we initiate talks, activities, and experiences by conducting workshops at schools and also by inviting them to the Organo facility. The main goal is helping them understand the importance of sustainable living. More importantly, we want them to be able to adopt small changes in their lifestyle which can have a big impact.
This December, we organized a couple of these workshops at schools. A group of children from the Gitanjali Senior School, Begumpet also visited the Organo facility for a field trip. It was wonderful hosting these young minds, filled with enthusiasm and the curiosity to find answers to every question.
The Gitanjali group of schools is a reputed institution that has over 30 years of experience in the field of education. Their schools have been ranked among the top 10 schools in India. The education at their schools is designed to maximize the all-round development of the child’s potential by providing complete academic support while building life skills such as critical thinking, communication, collaboration and physical skills in a nurturing values-based environment.
It’s great to have schools like this in our city that care about the environment and are willing to give the children a day away from academics. 150 students and 6 teachers teamed up to visit Organo on a cold winter morning. Hosting them was such a delight.
Before their visit to the Organo township, we had also organized a workshop at the school to give the students a theoretical understanding of what we do at Organo. It’s always nice to have an overview before the field trip as it gives the students enough context to be able to relate to what they see when they visit our farm.
All geared up with information and ready to experience the beauty of nature first hand, the school group reached our farm. One day is certainly not enough to soak in all the goodness at Organo, but we made the most of the time we had with them. The activities throughout the day touched upon all the elements of nature that are the key to our existence.
Introducing the children to the earth-friendly lifestyle at Organo involved learning about some of the following experiences. Many of these learnings they took back with them to make a change to their every day lives:
1. Recycling Waste :
Better waste management is such an easy tweak for any household to make, it only requires a little bit of effort. The students from Gitanjali school got an opportunity to learn about the philosophy of “zero toxic living” that we follow at Organo. They were amazed at how simple it would be to implement garbage segregation even in their homes into biodegradable and non-biodegradable wastes.
2. Water Conservation :
Water is the most important basic need for any habitation to exist and is a precious resource. The students had the opportunity to learn about Organo’s unique use of technology to make the most of this limited resource. Organo’s Naandi employs effective watershed measures to enhance the catchment areas and conservative water usage at all levels with the help of latest technologies. The farm is designed to be water independent. All water systems are designed based on the rainwater available in Hyderabad every year.
Water conservation techniques practiced at Organo reduces water requirement of the farm by about 50%. “Every drop of water counts” and we hope that the impressionable young minds were able to soak this in.
3. Energy Conservation :
Students these days get to hear a lot about global warming but don’t know enough about how they can impact it. Human activity is overloading the earth’s atmosphere with carbon dioxide and other global warming emissions, which trap heat, steadily drive up the planet’s temperature and create significant and harmful impacts on our health, overall climate and environment, and electricity production accounts for the majority of these harmful emissions.
Organo employs a self-reliant 100% net-zero community renewable energy source designed to meet the community’s loads. Completely powered by solar. Alternative energy sources like solar energy have a host of social, environmental and economic benefits too. They don’t deplete natural resources and have no harmful emissions.
Living in the city of Hyderabad, with ample sunlight all throughout the year, it would be great if all families could be urged to move towards solar-powered homes.
4. Maintaining Air Purity :
Particulate matter pollution has risen almost three times faster than previously expected in Hyderabad. Though faring better than cities like Delhi, where particulate matter pollution has risen by an astronomical four times, the rise in the city is still among the highest in the world. School going kids are most vulnerable to both short and long-term health repercussions as a result of this.
At Organo, we ensure that technology is applied smartly to cut down any harmful emissions into the environment. Also, the ample green cover throughout our property ensures that the air is much purer and healthier to breathe in. We need all the voices we can get to stand up against cutting of trees in urban areas.
5. Organic Farming :
Organic farming promotes a less toxic environment for all living things. Since the usage of pesticides and other toxic materials practically does not exist and a more nature-aided approach is adopted, the air, water, and soil thrives in a cleaner environment, which in turn is reflected in the products and also the health of the people who consume them.
After visiting our farm and tasting the fresh fruits grown at Organo, the students were certainly inspired to start their own organic green patch at their homes.
6. Animal Husbandry :
Organo’s Animal Husbandry facility follows the Vedic farming practices where the sacred cow (referred as Gomaata) takes the center stage. The residents have the unique opportunity to enjoy Organic dairy products straight from the farm. Plant care and nutrient supply to the farm are made organically with manures prepared from the cattle feces in the well-appointed animal husbandry unit.
The students had a lovely time feeding that cows and petting the young goats. In the hustle bustle of the city life, this is something that the children of today really miss out on.
Young boys and girls from Gitanjali school with truly absorbent minds really showed us how the current generation is hungry for information and fired up to make a change. All of them also enthusiastically participated in essay writing and sketching competitions that we conducted after the tour. The ideas and thoughts that came through on paper through words and illustrations were just mind-blowing and heartwarming at the same time.
We don’t think they guessed that getting their hands dirty was going to be so much fun. Be it trying their hand at the pottery wheel or petting the kind animals on the farm, the students thoroughly enjoyed their experience. More importantly, they took back with them an increased awareness and a brighter hope as nature’s ambassadors for the future.
A kitchen garden may be a simple, central, all-season landscape or a little more. It can be a source of herbs, vegetables and fruits for your family and is often a structured garden space. Kitchen gardening can be a tad bit tactical and not everyone can master it.
Here are the 3 commonly made mistakes in kitchen gardening:
- Selection of the right soil ingredients:
Be generous with compost: Many of us tend to use a lot of soil and mix with a little bit of compost. Try using equal parts of fertile soil and compost for best results. Use coco peat in a slightly smaller quantity for water retention.
- Seed selection:
Most urban gardeners complain about either seed not germinating or weak flowering and less fruiting etc., in most cases, it’s the seed to be blamed. Seed exchange is the best method rather than buying it from a store. Try enrolling in some of the seed exchange forums and you’ll get the right kind of tested Seeds for use. Next time, you can make your own seed too!
- Usage of Bio fertilisers like Jeevamrutham etc… :
Always keep the soil covered. Mostly so after the application of jeevamrutham as its exposure to sun kills the very effect (useful microbes are sensitive to heat) it has on the plant.
“ Since times known to us, humans are looking at us as carriers of weights. They put heavy sacks on our backs and never paid attention to what’s happening to us. They dumped clothes on us, at times stones, and many a time used us as lesser grade animals. They treated us as cheap labor.
As a result of which some agencies like IUCN deemed us as “near threatened”. They abuse us. They don’t just scold us, beat us and make us a slave, but also use our species name as an abuse in their colloquial.
Here we are blessed…. our curse to be donkeys in this lifetime seems to fade. We are now in a habitat where we are free and given our fair share on this earth. We are treated as celebrities to take pictures with….. It’s not just that now you see the girl… I heard people calling her vennela…. a beautiful girl she is…she came to spend time with us. It’s really a boon to be a donkey.
We can live here and spend the whole day to see her play with us. Look at how she is looking at us, warm yet cool. Like twilight….. She is indeed vennela cast on us for rest of the lifetime.”
The biopesticides and biofertilizers that we get in stores in most cases only contain 2% of the right microbial solution which is the reason why their effect is negligible in certain cases.
NIPHM of Hyderabad trained us and our farmers on the preparation of Biofertilizers and bio pesticides at farm level. Now we will get 100% pure microbial solutions for use and we have never been more excited to try it ourselves.
Our lab is underway and we are just a few days away in getting our self made Solutions.
It was a blissful experience for us during our visit to Organo for a field trip on October 17. The class VII students of Oakridge International School were taken there to experience the beauty of an organically preserved environment.
Organo is an eco-friendly community where everyone contributes to saving and preserving the environment in various ways like recycling, saving water and conserving electricity. The beauty of this place is that people living there try to make everything earth friendly and a better place without releasing harmful toxic gases into the air.
Organo is a group of people united to fix the massive problem of pollution by switching to renewable resources rather than using non-renewable resources.At Organo I saw the largest bio-pool in India. The place is very well organized and the people are friendly. The bio-pool includes many aquatic plants and different types of fish without any chemicals, not even chlorine. In a bio-pool, if there is excess water it is used for irrigation. We also had a wonderful pot making experience over there. Solar panels all around showed us that organo uses renewable sources of energy.
There were beautiful flowers and fresh vegetables at the farm which are grown organically without the use of any pesticides. Organo is a spectacular place to visit and would recommend everyone visits Organo to see the different innovative techniques used by the people over there.
Anand Deep Tirumala, class VII ‘E’ MYP,
Oakridge International School
The school field trip or an excursion we normally term it as has a long history in our education system. For nearly decades, students have been packed into buses to visit cultural institutions, museums, theaters, zoos, and historical sites.
It is a well known fact that more-advantaged families may give such exposure to their children outside of school hours, but the underprivileged students are less likely to have these experiences if schools do not provide them.
Schools have realised that these experiences enrich students knowledge and therefore gladly endured the expense and disruption to their regular schedules.
When schools do organize field trips, they are increasingly choosing to take students on trips to reward them for working hard to improve their test scores rather than to provide cultural enrichment and the exposure they need to build a better future.
This shift from “enrichment” to “reward” field trips is reflected in an evolving generational change among schools which are extremely modernised in the current scenario.
However, we need to question if this paradigm shift does actually benefit the students? Are we imparting a holistic education to our kids? Are we guiding them in the right direction to build a better future for themselves and the generations next?
These are exactly the concerns we at Organo have raised and have come up with a wonderful concept of Rurban (rural+urban).
Rurbun refers to a geographic territory or a landscape which possesses the economic characteristics and lifestyles of an Urban area while retaining its essential Rural area features. Simply put – Rurban denotes best of both the worlds.
Kids from most of the reputed schools visit Organo to get a hands on experience of the concepts there.
Recently, kids from Meridian School visited Organo to get a comprehensive experience of the activities and discern various facets of urban and rural lives.
These kids were taken around to get acquainted with different components and themes at Organo.
For example, they got a perspective of the rural concepts like:
Animal Husbandry: It’s a traditional goushala model and the cattle are let off the ropes to promote a natural habitat. Kids get a fair knowledge of how traditional healthy milking and cattle farming is done.
Pottery: Kids could get their hands on the pottery wheel to learn one of the oldest techniques of making ceramic or clay ware. They get familiar with the entire process of kneading, shaping and drying the clay.
Farming: The icing on the cake is the farming concept which the kids enjoy, dirtying their hands. Organo whips up the concept of growing your own food organically without the use of any pesticides.
Bio-pool: There is a large bio-pool at Organo the first of a kind in India. This includes many aquatic plants and different types of fish without any chemicals added, which can be in turn used for irrigation.
In additional kids got familiar with Urban concepts like:
Solar Power Panels: Kids are taught how Solar panels absorb the sunlight as a source of energy to generate electricity or heat.
Bio Gas: One of the important products generated from waste products is bio gas, a fuel gas made from biomass such as human waste, animal waste, food waste, grass, straw etc.
Waste Management: Students get to know how to manage wet waste, dry waste and animal waste and generate power from the bio gas plant.
Not just that, there are lot of other activities such as Painting, Essay writing, Elocution etc coupled with the outdoor and indoor games. These competitions are held under the supervision of 2 -3 judges and the winners get rewarded!
Here are some of the comments from the judges during a painting competition held at Organo where kids from Meridian School participated:
“She did a good ….the imagery and composition are very good. And the sense of using forms is commendable. She deserves encouragement and should be encouraged to continue painting.”
“He has captured the learning about what’s happening in the world and v/s what’s happening in sight Organo well. ” Says Madhu Reddy.
“Mershitha has articulated the essence of what’s happening around now and what’s ideally should be happening in a Very nice info graphical way.”
Having said that, kids are also provided a discernment of protecting and conserving and recycling the natural resources like water, air, soil etc.
At Organo, kids are taught what life is outside and inside Organo. What are the dangers evolving due to pollution, technology advancement and a reckless human behavior.
Kids comprehend the importance of protecting the natural resources and environment for a better living.
Therefore, lets just not focus on our children to acquire skills from their education; we also want them to develop into civilized people who appreciate the breadth of human accomplishments. The school field trips are an important tool for meeting this goal.
Suneeta who is a photographer by profession, goes around the farm clicking pictures randomly. One day she was very furious about the chicken being confined to a cage. She had noticed a chick getting stamped in the cage due to limited space and was almost on the verge of dying. Suneeta, immediately pulled the chick out and ensured its revived. She was also concerned that these chicken were not let out in the open until 9.00 am.
Without a second thought Suneeta made calls to all the departments including the top management. Being an animal lover she was slightly irate for not having provided better facilities to these birds. She then ensured that a dairy is maintained and the security guard signs on it daily morning, when the chicken are let out of the cage. She made sure that the chicken were provided adequate water and grains in regular intervals.
It was the same scenario with the fish as well. Although there were dedicated people to feed the fish they were not doing their job. Mahesh again insisted that this was monitored and provided a diary ensuring that the fish were fed at regular intervals. Now they are healthy and the pictures that she clicked of them looked much more better!
Some interesting developments and incidents transpired in the last three months at Organo. Stray dogs were part of the community when this was actually a private farmhouse. As time went by they multiplied and befriended lot of other stray dogs in the village. This went unnoticed due to the construction activity and the farming activity.
At that point in time, work was in progress and the community was almost vacant without any occupants. During the construction, these dogs were very active in protecting it. Owning the credit to these dogs we did not have any thefts at Organo.
These dogs were very agile, robust and slightly aggressive. They created a dwelling in the community and created a natural habitat for themselves.
Families from the urban society started moving in to the community after the work was completed. The security system was put in place to effectively protect the inhabitants and the entire premises along with these dogs was confined.
Though the strays were free to venture out of the community they never left as got acquainted with lot of people at Organo already.In the meantime more families started moving in and they were strangers to these dogs. New Naandians were growled and barked at which wasn’t a pleasant experience. But this was their natural instinct or behavior.
Now we had an issue to deal with and we had to schedule a forum discussion on this. Views were exchanged on whether to handover these dogs to organizations like Blue Cross or confine them throughout. We concluded that they were indeed part of the community and we should provide a small place to have a shelter.
These dogs were re-homed in the community and a shelter was built where they were tied up. Security guards were instructed to walk them regularly. They were provided food and were trained to mellow down and behave in a friendly manner.
Mr Madhu Reddy and Mr Sireesh were actively involved in achieving this. They took out time from their busy schedules to befriend these dogs and cared for them.
Especially Sireesh made an effort to take these dogs around whenever he was in town and visited Organo. He inquired about the well-being of the dogs and their diet. He convinced everybody that these dogs aren’t harmful and they are equally part of the Organo community.
The security take them along for night rounds and these dogs are free to move around in the community.