Promotion of School based Nutrition Gardens For healthy living and learning

Nutrition Gardens in a campus of educational institution is now a popular activity being encouraged by authorities.  The activity will not only provide required fresh vegetables to their hostel kitchens but also create awareness among its students about growing the plants.  It will also create an activity that will be helpful for them in future.   Keeping in view of large number of benefits that the activity is expected to generate most of the academic institutions and their students are showing more interest in it.

Even government of India has decided to create awareness of these concepts during its month long nutrition awareness campaign.

Need of Nutrition Gardens in Academic Institutions

The main objective of Nutrition Gardens in a School is to help in addressing malnutrition and micro-nutrient deficiencies by consumption of freshly grown vegetables.  Further to enhance the knowledge among children with regard to nutritional aspects of vegetables and harmful effects of junk food.  Finally to provide children firsthand experience with nature and activities related to gardening and agriculture.

Benefits and Advantages

There are many beneficial advantages of School Nutrition Gardens.  Some of them are….

Good for Learning – Nutrition Gardens in Academic Institutions are good for learning various aspects of gardening, farming and mainly the nutritional values of various crops that they are planning to grow.  They will also understand the concepts of self sufficiency.  By involving themselves in practical skills of doing agriculture or horticulture, they will also study and understand various aspects of environmental sciences and its benefits.

Healthy Life Style and Nutrition

The gardening or farming activity will provide ample opportunity to do physical work thus leading to more physical activity that will in turn allow them to have health life style.  Further the fresh produce that is obtained from these gardens will always provide them healthy food that contains multiple nutritional values.  The usage of organic farming techniques, organic fertilizers they will also have a healthy diet that will actually help in them having better health.

Fruits and Vegetables obtained through these gardens are rich in Vitamins, Minerals, antioxidants and add nutritional value to Mid-day meals or Meals in their hostel kitchens.  It will increase the variety of items that can be prepared and consumed so that it becomes a comprehensive meal for students.  The more varieties are added that will also receive appreciation from students who will enjoy their meals more.

Health Environment

Respect for the environment must begin from home and next at School.  With the Nutrition Garden’s in academic institutions, then the school grounds will have various plants, trees that will attract insects, wild life, sun shine, water supply and finally sanitation.  The whole environment of earth, water, heat is observed and utilized to grow plants and trees.  The whole activity being done purely on organic way will add more colours to environment.  This entire process will not only help in having health environment but will also allow a student to understand the benefits of maintaining healthy environment in every aspect.

Chance to understand many other environmentally friends activities

Further the students will also get exposed to several other environmentally friendly activities such as generating power using solar, hydel techniques and also by using bio gas based apparatus.  Installation of Solar Power lights, motors will have an insight into importance of using such techniques for the activity.  Further conservation of water and better usage of water to save this precious ingredient can also taught to students.  Further through the techniques of Vermicomposting, they will understand the benefits of recycling the waste.  By recycling the waste generated in their school, they can learn about bio gas generation, production of pesticides through varmicompost etc.

These learning inculcated among students will definitely enhance their understanding of nature, benefits of having better environment, usage of natural resources etc.,  They will also understand the nature, vermin culture that gives them insights into life cycles of plants and animals that includes humans.

What can we grow in these Nutrition Gardens?

Huge range of vegetables and fruits along with various medicinal plants that are available can be grown in these Nutrition Gardens.  Variety of Root & Tubers, Pluses & legumes, herbs, vegetables, herbs and fruits can be obtained from these gardens.  Some of them are …

Roots & Tubers – Sweet Potato or Potato are very good sources of Carbohydrates, energy and some vitamins.  But they have less protein than cereals.  They can be grown as per as the season and can be cooked along with several other foods.

Pulses & Legumes – Cowpeas, Chickpeas, Beans, Soybeans kind of foods are a rich source of protein and also contains fat, Vitamin E, Calcium, Iron and Zinc.  They will help in proper growth of children and development of their brain.

Vegetables and Green Leaves – Different vegetables and green leaves that we use are rich in Vitamins, Minerals and other substances that protect health.  The dark green leafy vegetables are rich in Vitaman C.  Similarly other bright colored contains various other vitamins along with Vitamin C.

Medicinal Plants & Herbs – Growing plants pertaining to Ginger, Tulsi, Garlic, Curry Leaves, Mint, Aloveera etc., will have various advantages in providing health meal.  Their medicinal values will definitely help in reducing various health related complications.  They boost immunity, fight effectively with indigestation and are rich sources of vitamins and minerals required by human body.

Further trees like Drumstik, Papaya will have double advantages.  Their fruits and leaves also can be used for various purposes of cooking.  They will provide various benefits to the students.

With the entire above, one can easily understand the need to have a Nutritional Garden in academic institutions in lines with Kitchen Gardens at Home.   The multiple benefits of learning, knowledge, healthy life style, healthy eating that they provide will surely have larger impact on student’s life.  Is it not high time to promote them?

Article is prepared by  Dr A Kiraannmayee,  Chief Clinical Dietitian, Apollo Cradle, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad

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