Onam is fast approaching, but many homes will have small or no ‘pookkalams’ this time because of unaffordable blossoms.
But several schools in the city have hit upon a solution by growing flowers on their premises. Seedlings of African marigolds have reached their hands through agriculture enthusiasts, but this time, the students are giving importance to growing indigenous varieties such as jasmines, Thumba ( Leucas aspera ), hibiscus and golden trumpet.
Students of Holy Angels Girls’ Higher Secondary School, Vanchiyoor, the Government Girls’ Higher Secondary School, Cotton Hill, and St. Shantal Senior Secondary School, Kowdiar, have been distributed 5,000 seedlings of African marigolds.
The project is coordinated by Agri-friends Krishi Samskarika Vedi, a forum of farmers and agriculture enthusiasts in the city.
Students are being encouraged to collect the seedlings and saplings of locally grown flowers from their neighbourhoods.
“The idea is to collect enough seedlings so that the children do not have to spend money on flowers during Onam. This will help create an interest among them,” S. Jayakumar, project coordinator, says.
The students have sufficient land in their school vegetable gardens, where vegetables are being cultivated under the Comprehensive Vegetable Cultivation Scheme supported by the Agriculture Department.
“Students are hoping to add the marigolds grown by them to the flower carpets at the Onam celebrations in the school,” says S. Sreelatha, eco-club teacher of the Holy Angels School. Ten more schools in the city will join the drive and will start their own flower gardens to encourage their peers to take up cultivation in their respective schools.
The Agriculture Department is making extensive plans to roll out a “Vithu Vandi” (seed vehicle) that will tour the schools in the State with a message to take up vegetable cultivation in schools and homes. The main aim of this travelling unit will be to promote the comprehensive scheme and to encourage students to start vegetable cultivation using the seeds distributed in June as part of the project.
Education Minister P.K. Abdu Rabb will flag off the vehicle by August-end.