Greening of schools: Plantation and waste management initiatives have been undertaken in three schools with new schools continuously being added.
Biodiversity is essential to rebuilding ecosystems. It allows them to build resilience to withstand the uncertainties of a changing, fluctuating future. Our tireless Nursery Team at Barefoot College understands and supports this fact. Through the dedication of amazing volunteers, our team has undertaken impactful initiatives that include tree plantations, sapling distribution, seed harvesting, permaculture gardening, and composting on Campus and surrounding village communities. All this is mindfully executed by a local team using traditional practices, intelligently adapted to the changing pace and space. While we are taking conscientious baby steps, our efforts are honest and our dream is big! We are on the road to sustainable environmental conservation with a continuing focus on rebuilding ecosystems.Our Impact
Targeting Sustainability Goals
Plantation and Permaculture
Over the years the Nursery team has identified suitable areas within our campus, planting home-grown saplings that have survived the harsh environment of Tilonia. Our team is deeply concerned about the dwindling local species and hence our initiatives include the revival and spread of endangered species of plants that once grew in abundance in Rajasthan. We also practice companion cropping to aid nitrogen fixation and replace nutrients in the soil that certain types of plant families tend to use.
It’s become increasingly imperative for communities to be more self-resilient when it comes to food supply. Local cultivation is reliable, fresh and affordable. We aim at gradually evolving into an organization which grows its meals in its own backyard, from seed to plate.
Composting and Manure
A significant proportion of waste generated in villages is biodegradable. At Barefoot College, local residents are required to segregate the waste into food, plastic and paper for disposal. Sanitary waste is disposed of in incinerators strategically placed around the campus. As part of the Waste Management Project, our campus wet waste is hauled every day to an in-house compost pit by our experienced Waste Management Team, where it’s cared for until it transforms into a nutrient-rich compost.
Using the NADEP method of composting, the collected food / green waste is emptied into a compost pit and carefullylayered as green waste, dried leaves, mud, and cow-dung to promote decomposition. The coarse compost is then sieved to be ready to add as nutrition to the plants on campus, in schools and in village communities.
Our waste management project is also paving the way for proper disposal of plastic waste, which is harmful to the animals that consume it. Our compost helps reduce the use of harmful, synthetic fertilizers, thereby boosting soil health and carbon sequestration. This is a sustainable and regenerative solution because food waste that goes into making the compost is generated daily.
Organic Seed Harvesting
During the early stages of the nursery, an extensive seed collection drive of local species of trees and shrubs was undertaken to expand the Nursery, which had survived several dry spells due to failed or inadequate rainfall in the region. The organic seed collection project covers mountains, forests, farms and open lands in the vicinity has led to the discovery of several notable local trees like the Khirni of Chir, The Kaim of Kaladungri, The Kadamb/Chamrod of Bhojyavas, The Dhau grove of Pitambari Ghal as well as the very near yet undiscovered by us Barna of Tilonia [s3].
We continue collecting organic seeds of plants, which have paved the way to sustainable greening through a living seed bank. The nursery now has a well-stocked seed bank with native trees, local vegetables and staples, wild shrubs and herbs, as well as some preferred exotics. At Barefoot College, a conscious effort is being made to delve into the indigenous methods of seed harvesting for on-campus use and sale at exhibitions or village fairs at subsidised rates, as a viable source of income. The seeds are stored and preserved as part of a gene pool for the prolonged survival of local plant species.
A large planting program is taken up by the Nursery team during monsoons: The saplings that are cared for in the nursery are distributed in the neighbouring field centres and communities ofKadampura, Tikawada, Brijpura, Chota Narena, Kotri and Singla for re-greening.
A free plant distribution program called Saplings for Seedsis also carried out, wherein locals and farmers bring seeds of plants growing in their vicinity and in turn take with them saplings to plant in their villages. These seeds are a great addition to our living seed bank. We also sell saplings at subsidized rates to schools and nearby village communities.
Education and Conservation
Children are a catalyst for change. We believe that children are the best initiators for change at home and in the community. Hence, some of our initiatives in the Nursery are consciously geared towards children.
The nursery team piloted a conservation project at a government school in a small nearby village called Nallu. The initial setup included collection and segregation of school campus trash, planting new trees, making sustainable water sources available and composting the school waste for up to 2 months. Following the initial setup workshops on composting, disposal of plastic and maintenance of the plants were conducted. The school children were given a timetable to follow which has been integrated into their curriculum. A 10-month monitoring has been undertaken to ensure that the practice continues.
Similar efforts have been made in our resident school of Shikshaniketan. A fruit garden has been established and maintained by the students. Regular workshops take place in the garden, where hands-on guidance about plants, pests and composting are conducted for the kids.
Our objective is to green more schools under the oversight of children themselves.
A Story of Impact
World Environment Day 2019
For 40 years Barefoot College has been working with humble people, whose quiet service holds the world together. We listen to land stewards, learn from indigenous and peasant cultures and in the process become evermore committed to preserve and regenerate the sacred and natural ecosystems they call home.