Back to Basics: Children and Food

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During my yearly visits to India, I was struck by the fact that many urban children do not have access to fresh vegetables and fruits. The price is exorbitant, but more importantly, there is very little awareness of the benefits of eating vegetables. I wondered if it is possible for these children to grow their own greens and vegetables. I no longer wonder.

MyHarvest, an entrepreneurial venture by my fellow alumni Archana Stalin from College of Engineering, Guindy (CEG), Chennai, has a mission: teach everyone to grow their own food. And most importantly teach urban children the magic. Archana’s social enterprise MyHarvest has their services centered around the concepts of “Grow your own food” and “Food is medicine”.

When I was looking to mentor young entrepreneurs from my alma mater, a fellow alumnus, AJB put me in touch with Archana. CEG had incubated her venture, and while it is not a “typical” tech venture, he thought I might find it interesting. Archana and I talked, and after exchanging numerous emails, I decided to sponsor an educational project at a Chennai school. My nephew’s Rotary Club, the Rotary Club Madras East (RCME) agreed to manage the project on my behalf.

MyHarvest provided a proposal with different options ranging from a one day workshop to helping students set up a kitchen garden. The proposal was comprehensive and very well written. The proposal was presented to the RCME board and approved. Dr. Nalli Kuppuswami Vivekananda Vidyalaya Junior College near Korattur was chosen for the project. RCME has been working with schools on other types of projects, and the existing framework could be leveraged.

After visiting the school and discussing the project with school officials, it was decided that the eighth-grade students will participate in a MyHarvest workshop and will be responsible for the terrace kitchen garden.

The project was kicked off on January 23, 2018.

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MyHarvest team visited the school periodically to monitor progress and provide guidance. The eighth-grade students have had a lot of fun growing a variety of vegetables, including chili peppers, eggplant, radish, and spinach. My Harvest included flowers such as marigolds as pest control.

This month, March 2018, the school celebrated the harvest on a special day called Nalli School celebrates the joy of harvesting.

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Throughout this project, MyHarvest kept me informed of the progress. It has been such a pleasure to work with myHarvest. I am now in discussions with RCME and myHarvest about how this effort can be sustained moving forward.

It is important to learn about technology; it is equally important to learn the basics of living. I am so pleased to have been a very tiny part of teaching urban children about the basics of growing their own food. I don’t know how many of these children will go on to having a kitchen garden of their own as they grow up, but I am happy that they have been exposed to the possibilities.

If you would like to support a project similar to this, let me know. I can take you through the process.

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