Workshops are being held at the E-base, Pench- India on conservation and sustainability. 400 children from 6 different schools around the reserve attend these workshops regularly. The objective of the workshop is to inspire the students to be champions of sustainability and agents of change in their community.
Our beautiful Bhindi and Barbati plants served their purpose. Our Midday Meal Kitchen in the shcool absorbed all the produce of our organic patch (off course, the produce that remains after the students eat the raw bhindi! Yes, we know what you’re think, raw Bhindi? But, the students love it! We think it has something to do with the sweetness in vegetables when grown organically.)
At this moment, we are more than just blue. We are borderline furious! Our second attempt at the Palak and Methi plants got nullified by terribly untimely rain in October. We thought we had left the monsoon behind in September, but it was just lurking around the corner.
One would think the failure of half of the patch would bring the morale of our students down. We were expecting some very upset students. However, it turns out our students know how to take things in their stride.
Just as we were basking in the glory of our successful sowing, the weather decided to put an end to it. With record breaking amounts of rainfall, there was absolute no chance our little methi and palak plants could survive. The torrential rains of August and unusual downpours in September ensured the patch a hard time.
So, what’s the damage?
The Methi and Palak plants completely withered under all that rain. Half of the patch flooded and amounted in a complete failure.
We’re all well aware of how good the soil and climate is in Pench. In fact, the day after we sowed, we saw that some of our seeds had sprouted! Given the terrible monsoon conditions, we knew we had to be patient and be open to some amount of failure. None the less, we hoped for the best.
Our students diligently took care of their patches and we were looking forward to a good set of vegetables! We could feel it- we were definitely going to have a good set of vegetables! After all, the students had put in such an effort!
The day of heavy rains and our sowing had passed. We were all now patiently waiting for the kali mitti and the seeds to do their job. Given the weather, we were very skeptical about the flowering of the seeds, but we had our fingers crossed (yes, literally, and we made our students cross them too).
Till then, we decided to give our garden the final touches. Every class had their own boards on which they were to write their class details and the vegetables seeds they had sown to put in the organic patch.
We were a team on a mission and the students’ determination was at another high. Perhaps, that’s why the rain finally decided to stop and let us get on with our big task at hand. With a relatively clear morning and noon, we got a good amount of time to sow our seeds.
We spoke too soon.
The next morning, one weak branch had gotten most of our shed down! (We just knew we shouldn’t have used that one!) The rains had lashed out at our shed all through the night and been a real test for it. And, in the end, the shed gave way.
Only taking a break for lunch, we headed back to set up a shed over the organic patch as the only solution to keep the unexpected and unpredictable incessant rains from damaging our patch.
A week before we were scheduled to sow our seeds, we had our partners from Taj Baghvan help weed and clean up and add some fresh soil to the patch for the organic garden. Already behind schedule due to schools opening late, we decided to sow as early as possible in July. With the patch all weeded and ready, the last thing on our minds was the lashing rains that hit Pench that very week! With a record high rainfall this year, the weather in Pench was not on our side and before we knew it we had our rich soil washed away, weeds taking over our patch again and a baby snake as a visitor.