Students planting saplings has become everyday news, but those following up and successfully rearing the planted saplings into trees remain few and far in between.
When tree planting is exercised like ceremony without active participation of young minds it ends as a one-day event. The lukewarm follow-up partly has its roots in not sensitising people, especially youngsters, on how delicate the eco-system is and the importance of protecting it.
The Municipal Girls Higher Secondary School in Tiruvannamalai attempts to plant the idea of growing trees in the minds of their students in a holistic way. Instead of just burying the roots of a sapling procured from a nursery in the earth, and forgetting about it, students are trained to collect seeds, prepare seed beds, replant the seedlings in plastic covers filled with soil, and prepare natural manure to supplement the plants.
A group of 30 girls in the school’s eco club carry out the work for the past three months and has produced about 600 saplings of neem, portia ( poovarasu ), abrus etc. The school’s botany teacher, M. Prasanna, who conceived the idea and acts as a mentor for this project, told The Hindu , “We understand the importance of growing trees. But we want our students to learn the art of growing a tree instead of handing them out readymade saplings, an exercise that has often proved fruitless. They have now produced hundreds of saplings successfully by their labour and involvement. Soon, we will give them these saplings and ask them to plant them in their houses, on the streets and any place of their choice”. Mr. Prasanna believes that these students would not give up on the planted trees. R. Preethi, one of the eco club members who developed the school nursery, said “I feel happier to work in the garden than just sitting at home”. S. Arthi, another student, says that they make use of the free hours at school to work in the nursery.
“Students use egg shells, leaf litter, vegetable wastes for the plants in our garden. Now, we are planning to develop a compost yard in the school to regularly produce natural manure required for our nursery,” Mr.Prasanna said.