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Grow Smart @ Amrita is a project spearheaded by the Serve-an-Hour initiative of the first-year students of the Schools of Engineering and Arts & Sciences at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham’s Amritapuri campus. The project was officially launched on March 22, World Water Day 2013.

The students picked the project to play their part in helping meet the objectives of the UN’s International Year of Water Cooperation.

Emulating their Chancellor Amma’s love for nature, they created the unique Bottle Garden, a hanging flower garden near the mess hall on campus that uses recycled bottles as planters.

Now, going one step further with Grow Smart, they will begin growing organic vegetables in such planters. The self-irrigating planters that conserve water were unveiled as the project was launched.

“Our Chancellor often encourages us to grow our own organic vegetables. Now, through our project we will have triple benefits of organic gardening, recycling and water conservation,” shared the excited students.

The self-irrigating planters are a unique innovation, testimony to the students’ enthusiasm to care for Mother Nature. With 2-liter PET bottles cut into half, a hole punctured in the cap and a wicking fabric inserted that helps draw water up for the plant to grow, the students referred to these as sub-irrigated planters.

Water is added to the base of the planter, which can also remain submerged in a water container.

“From the top, add about three cups of damp soil and mix it with a handful of organic fertilizer or compost. Plant a seedling or sow seeds and water lightly from the top just once, to settle them in,” the first-year students explained to their seniors.

“Through capillary action, water keeps the soil moistened. This way of watering not only cuts down on water use but also helps prevent plant disease. It is a big time saver as well,” the students enthusiastically added.They proudly showed off the fruits of their labors over the past few weeks – baby spinach, brinjal and tomato plants – growing in these planters.

Meanwhile, the Department of Social Work organized a one-day workshop for its students who learned about the role of water and the biodiversity it engenders, in maintaining the health of ecosystems.

“Biodiversity helps regulate natural systems – air, water, soil and helps to maintain a diverse genetic pool. The greater the biodiversity, the more resilient we are to environmental change,” explained Ms. Devayani Khare, Project Manager, Western Ghats Biodiversity Group, speaking to the students.

In their field trip to nearby wetlands, students learned more about water being a shared resource and collaboration being the key to properly managing it.

“Let’s play our part,” the reaffirmed, expressing their solidarity once again with the global community on World Water Day 2013.

March 23, 2013
Amritapuri Campus

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