No, it is not an orchard here, but a government school!

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Not long ago, 2.78-acre campus of Government High School in Chinnapatti, Madurai, was a vacant piece of land, devoid of any shade. But, not anymore. In just four years, the school has turned into an orchard bearing variety of trees and flowering plants. Guava, gooseberry, mango, vembu, pungai, jack fruit, pomegranate, vagai and gulmohar are some of the trees found in the campus garden. There is also a small herbal garden having plants like tulsi, siriyanangai, etc.

It all started when Vasanthal joined the school as its headmistress. While serving as headmistress in a school in Ramanathapuram district, she had tried a similar experiment – growing trees in the campus – but was unsuccessful. “Multiple attempts to grow trees on the campus failed as the region is arid. When I was transferred here and saw the sprawling vacant space, I wanted to try growing trees, at least for giving some shade to students,” she said in an article published in The Hindu.

The school initially planted 10 saplings which grew well as the soil was fertile. This encouraged them to plant more and they approached the forest department. The latter gave them 450 saplings of different species, free of cost. It also taught the school staff the right way to plant, water and maintain plants.

The school initially planted 10 saplings which grew well as the soil was fertile. This encouraged them to plant more and they approached the forest department

“Initially, we had to engage labourers to plant all the saplings. Gradually, the maintenance was fully taken over by children with the support of teachers,” said C. Jeyakumaran, teacher and coordinator of the school’s Eco Club in The Hindu.

Students from class 6 to 10 have been assigned the task of maintenance of these trees, the idea being to give them a sense of ownership of these trees. Each child looks after four trees. There are about 120 students studying in these classes.

The garden is now a favourite place of students. They can be seen sitting under the tree, reading books and enjoying themselves. Besides providing the much-needed greenery, the garden is also helping them understand the importance of trees, conservation and soil fertility.

Students can be seen sitting under the tree, reading books and enjoying themselves. Besides providing the much-needed greenery, the garden is also helping them understand the importance of trees, conservation and soil fertility

“Many of us now like to sit under the tree and study or have lunch. The trees are like our friends now. There is also a healthy competition among students on whose tree is flowering better or growing fast,” The Hindu report quotes S. Sujitha, a class 10 student.

Green campus is not the only achievement of this school. Recently, it also won the Swachh Vidyalaya Puraskar from the union government.

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