Verdant, green, tranquil, flourishing- these are some of the words that come to mind when one visits this beautiful farm, Peik. In a setting like this, a bunch of curious, enthusiastic and energetic first graders might, at first, seem a little misplaced or odd, even worrisome. But do read on to find out how this strange combination of serene nature and the sprightly children of PYP 1, worked together to create a perfectly harmonious and enriching learning experience.
It was our inquiry into how food is grown and processed before it is consumed, that necessitated this exploration. Emails were exchanged, plans were outlined, preparations were made and finally our contingent of first graders, accompanied by their teachers, trusty school staff and our ever-obliging parent, Mrs. Aikta Sood, made their way to Peik. Having visited Mr. Hector Andrade’s home, last year, the children warmly greeted him as he welcomed us to ‘Pune’s first sustainable farm’, a place that serves as yet another testament to his great passion for nature. Joining him were also the owners of the farm itself, Mr. Abhishek Pallod and Ms. Reshma Kane. After being gently pried away from the very-tempting jungle gym area near the restrooms, and having their snacks under canopies of lush vegetation, our group was finally ready to begin its expedition.
Mr. Hector led us up and down pathways lined with bounties of nature. Our children, having acquired a good understanding of plants through their previous inquiry into vegetation, were remarkably quick to identify and name the things they saw. The farm is home to about forty kinds of herbs and thirty different types of vegetables and one by one, from banana and papaya plants to a range of different lettuces and cabbages, from mint and corn to beetroot, beans and celery, we saw them all growing, thriving in this green abode. In the profound words of our Anaya, “This farm is full of everything!” Mr. Hector demonstrated how some of the vegetables are harvested or picked and plucked or dug out, introducing the children to the first step of food processing. The children soaked in their surroundings, using their senses to feel, smell, even taste the produce of the land, building on their knowledge, making new connections and laying the foundation for future learning.
Our meanderings soon led us to the last stop of our tour which was perhaps most crucial for fueling our inquiry forward. There, under the shade of woven bamboo, on a wooden table, set out most elegantly, were platters of unprocessed and corresponding processed foods. The children walked around the very long table, observing the contents laid out. Alongside an assortment of lettuce and other green leafies including the red arugula leaves, was a healthy salad, dressed simply in lemon juice and topped with cherry tomatoes. Besides a dish of freshly dug out beetroot, sat slices of ready-to-eat beet. But the most intriguing of all was the platter of rosella flowers accompanied by a tray of dried leaves and a transparent cup of red liquid. Even as the children learned how corn was processed, the leaves peeled off and used as compost and the cob cooked, even as they explored how washing and adding a little natural dressing brought out the flavour of the leaves transforming them into a robust salad, the rosella assortment remained the pièce de résistance. The children were amazed to learn how the petals of the rosella flower are dried to make tea and cooked to make jam. They were immensely keen on making rosella jam in class but will have to wait until Peik harvests its first batch of rosella flowers.
Little bounties of the farm tucked safely in their palms, our children bid a fond farewell to Peik and to the wonderful team of people who lovingly sowed a dream and patiently watched it grow and flourish.
~ Ms. Karishma, Ms. Shilpa and Ms. Beena