Catch 'em young: 16-year-old develops interest in organic farming, teaches it to Gen Z

Organically cultivated products are now required due to changes in global consumption patterns

Sulekha NairUpdated: Sunday, May 15, 2022, 05:46 PM IST
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Sahil Raheja said: I was with my school buddies on an environment visit to a park in Navi Mumbai one day and was fascinated by how effectively wet food waste and garbage were composted to make manure |

A chance visit to a Park in Navi Mumbai with his school friends changed 16-year-old school student Sahil Raheja's interest towards organic farming. Intrigued with how efficiently waste was composted to create manure, which was used in both landscaping and growing of fruit and vegetable plants, Raheja to started to visit the Park more often, interacting with the team working out of there and understanding it in depth.

From then on, his learning curve advanced to then explaining about the concept to other younger school children who visited the Park. Raheja has since then come a long way and set up an organic farm at his own home, growing a variety of vegetables.

Excerpts from an interview

Developing an interest in organic farming

Gardening and plants have always attracted me, and I have spent a lot of time in my personal home-yard. However, it was my grandmother's influence that sparked my curiosity, as she used to tell me about how she handpicked every plant in the garden and how it was beneficial not only to them but also to the environment.

I was with my school buddies on an environment visit to a park in Navi Mumbai one day and was fascinated by how effectively wet food waste and garbage were composted to make manure. This manure I saw, was further being used for both landscaping and the development of fruit and vegetable plants in an organic farm setup. What intrigued me, was how one man’s waste was another plant's manure. I began to visit the park on a more regular basis, interacting with the park's staff and learning more about their job.

Organic farming is not only a sustainable farming approach, but it also promotes a spirit of cooperation with nature. Today, organically cultivated products are now required due to changes in global consumption patterns and increased awareness of healthy alternatives.

On his teachers in organic farming

The park has experts who have developed a very successful and beautiful organic farm. They have been kind enough to spend time with me, patiently answering my queries and mentoring me. From the seasons best suited for different plants to the care they need and from the amount of sunlight and climatic conditions to the manure they need, they have taught me about each of these areas.

On the organic farm, we are focused on fruits such as dragon fruit, tomatoes, strawberries and bananas, mangoes, and even papaya. Vegetables include spinach, cabbage, lettuce, broccoli, yam, chilies, capsicum, brinjal, sweet potatoes, and radish. Also, herbs like mint, basil, and thyme are grown, depending on the season.

On sustainable living

I believe that everyone can improve their resource utilization and sustainability in a variety of ways. Using single-use products such as plastic is one of the most prevalent errors we make. Instead, we could utilize reusable or environmentally friendly alternatives, attempting to reduce paper usage through the use of digital means such as receiving receipts from a shopkeeper through email rather than a physical copy. One should consider using solar energy to power your home and switching to an electric car instead of a gasoline or diesel-powered vehicle.

What Gen Z can learn and incorporate

What I admire best about Generation Z is that we have demonstrated that we are committed to making the world a better place. After reading and witnessing the negative consequences of climate change on the planet from a very young age, I believe that safeguarding the environment should be our top concern, as this is a catastrophe that we cannot afford to ignore as we have in the past. We can already see how the impact of certain businesses on the environment has influenced purchasing decisions, and it's encouraging to see Gen Z using their purchasing power to hold companies to a higher standard, with many companies launching sustainability campaigns and highlighting green practices. It's critical that we accept ownership and responsibility for wanting to do something meaningful and useful to safeguard the environment and future generations from a worldwide calamity.

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