I reach school to find the Ragi seedlings sprouted in two big pots arranged by Vasantha. What a happy picture it was - the tiny plants looking very happy- swishing away in the lovely Bangalore morning breeze. And such a lovely green.
(Ardhendu da, founder of the sustainable agriculture organisation, DRCSC informs me, when I ask about poetry/literature around this unique colour green, "Bengal being a Rice growing area ,has many songs about the greenery of young rice seedlings ,often compared with the colour of emerging/young Banana leaf"! A quick internet search revealed a lovely folk tale from Vietnam called, Heaven and Earth, Kitchen recipes in the book, Songs of the Bamboo, by Xuan-Lan Nguyen vividly describing the traditional New year dishes that depict the paddy green of the vegetation. Here is a google book link :https://www.amazon.com/Songs-Bamboo-Xuan-Lan-Nguyen/dp/1625160089/)
Anyhow, to complete the day's chronicle, we had to now check the farm Ragi. Our concerns of under watering Ragi seeds continue and weekly visits begin on a slightly nervous note.
But since it had rained heavily the previous night, there is hope. Mixed with practicalities- the slushy path to the farm is not exciting and when I find that the school bus to the farm cannot be arranged , it is a bit of stress . But nothing like the excitement of kids- barring a few everyone else wants to walk (err run!) . One group (Alpha-class 5) cannot make it as they are busy with their cooking so we manage with two groups.
At the farm, Ragi has sprouted. Not looking as happy as the school one but growing it is. Roshni had flagged the issue of observations a night before so we got the kids to write in their journals about the colour, smell, taste, and the height of the tallest Ragi plant using a small measuring scale. Vasantha did the measurement and explained why she cut off the roots to measure the plant. It was 5 cm tall at the farm. Laksh (who wasn't able to make it this Wednesday) advises us on the phone- "if they reach 10 cms we can transplant". Certainly not yet. Since rains are our only source of water, we have to be monsoon watchers. Rain guage readings in school can help at this point to actually measure the rainfall but setiing it up now is a bit late, I suppose.
Kids had some nice observations about the different shades of green colour of the seedlings and a discussion about chlorophyll can be taken up in the classroom. Here is a nice resource: https://www.scienceabc.com/nature/why-do-you-see-different-shades-of-green-in-a-garden.html
The Tuvar Dal had germinated too and the seedlings were swaying in the breeze as well . Zeta's plot saplings were quite a success -almost every seed had germinated while Alpha and Epsilon didn't see many saplings. Vasantha will discuss these observations in the class -(correct ways to sow the seeds) and the why of school Ragi growth rate is better than the farm Ragi growth rate. Some kids were already able to guess the role of a healthy soil .
The kids deweeded and by then it was an hour already!
Came back to the school to find Roshni and Jalaja and Alpha kids busy prepping and cooking -it was their turn that day and the Ragi dish was something special- Ragi uppitu and they were trying out a recipe belonging to Jalaja's father. Uppitu was a success. I missed documenting the main step of moistening the Ragi flour just enough like the making of "Puttu" so was a bit bah about it. Alpha kids watching the whole process agreed to draw the recipes out for putting it up on the notice board .
Sreeja and Vasantha quickly gave me an update around various soil related experiments they are trying out with kids. Sreeja has divided various agriculture project ideas (soil erosion, weathering, Aquaponics, Hydroponics) amongst students and the classroom is full of interesting contraptions.
There were lots of insightful conversations with Madhu, Suja, Sreeja, Vasantha around agriculture and farming in the teachers room. Suja had come in to school and we discussed the slow food movement, gender dynamics in urban farming, and limits to consumption. I thought maybe an organised session on these perspective would help us all. Time , of course is a serious issue. Also have to start thinking about evaluation- what would we like to evaluate at the end of the term apart from a good harvest!
The day ended with Ashwini showing me the Ragi pot brought by a kid from home- It was lovely and nice to hear about kids's experiences of growing at home.
Here is the week in pictures: