A School Garden in India

Water management


There is a small village called Bhandarikuda in eastern India. It lies next to Chilika Lake, which is a famous saline lake. Many years ago, during the rainy season, the land around the village was submerged in lake water.

Gangadhar Bidyaniketan is a secondary school located two kilometres away from the village in a lonely place surrounded by paddy fields. In the past, during the rainy season, the school grounds were also flooded. There was no approach road to the school. The students and teachers had to walk two kilometres in knee deep mud and water to reach the school.

The situation in the summer was quite different. At that time there was no water to be found. Each student and teacher had to carry a water bottle to the school. There was not a single tree in the area. Once a passer by died in the hot sun for want of water and shade. In summer it was impossible to run the school in this treeless, hot, saline area, under an asbestos roof.

The students and teachers of the school were determined to make changes. Each student agreed to plant and care for one tree. They chose the planting locations carefully and created a green belt around the school campus. The students also planted trees on the banks of the nearby river and lake to make a green cover in the waterlogged area.

With the help of a local non profit organization the villagers built an approach road. They also built a water tank on the school campus. They raised the level of the land around the tank so that the tank would not be flooded in the rainy season. The surface water of the tank was made useable with the use of two different kinds of water filters, including a slow sand filter. As a result, the drinking water problem of the school was solved.

These days any water that is not needed for drinking is used in the school vegetable gardens. The students have formed groups. Each group has a plot of land and manages a small garden. They compete among themselves, trying to produce the most vegetables and flowers with the use of compost and animal manures.

Thanks to the guidance of a far sighted young headmaster, learning about soil improvement and food production doesn’t stop in the garden. It continues even inside the classroom. The students learn how to make compost using worms, and how to make a kitchen garden. And they are encouraged to grow food at home and share ideas with their families.

This is a real success story. The students have turned their school campus into a vegetable and flower garden. The land which was barren and saline, is now green and colourful.


This script was written by B. Pattanaik, Executive Director, Forum of Social Scientists, Engineers & Teachers (FOSSET), Orissa, India.

The local non government organization which provided support to the school to build an approach road and tank is “Janamangal Mahila Samiti”.