Farming kits for children

An activity-filled organic farming kit shows children how their food journeys from the farm to table

A farming kit for children? I am doubtful when I hear about it. But my four-year-old daughter’s response changes my mind. She grabs the blue-and-orange box (with a cute illustration of Maggi, the little farmer mascot on the cover) from me and examines the light box with images of potted plants and greenery, and sits down to unpack. There are some pamphlets, a pouch with seeds of native greens, and a thick plastic bag that contains a coco peat brick. This is the farming kit introduced by Faiz Yousuff, specially for children aged three plus. He calls his company Little Farmer.

Faiz Yousuff’s little farmer kit

Faiz Yousuff’s little farmer kit  
| Photo Credit:
M. Periasamy

As I read the instructions, my daughter pours water (five litres) into the bag with the cocopeat brick and is delighted as the brick grows in volume to fill it up. She pushes the seeds of greens into the brick and waves her dirty hands around triumphantly. “Children should know where the food they eat comes from,” says Faiz. “Once children start growing a plant, it is like owning a pet. They become responsible and care for it. It piques their curiosity. The activity improves their hand-eye coordination too.”

Faiz has already despatched over 300 such kits across India and also to schools in Dubai. Schools buy the kit as a summer camp activity for the kids. It helps cut down on the TV time of children. “It’s an activity-oriented kit. It comes with a sheet that has images of the seeds in various stages of germination. Children can colour the images. The herbarium sheet encourages them to press the leaves and note down its botanical name. There is another activity sheet to name the parts of a plant,” he explains.

In the pipeline

  • Corporate farming kits that support greening and farming activities in offices. The activity encourages team building, improves communication, and fosters healthy competition.
  • A programme called Eco-systems at Schools for students in Std VII, VIII and IX. In the activity called Little Farmer = DFT 2, the students set up a 200-300 sqft blue room at the school campus where they grow 25-30 different types of vegetables ranging from tomato and onions to bitter gourd, snake gourd, cucumber and green chillies. All these can be harvested in 20-30 days. The students learn data collection and farming as well as technology where they measure moisture content and temperature. They get a lesson in trading too, as they can auction the produce at the school canteen or to their parents.They have to spend 20 minutes every day on the farm and record the growth of what they have planted. This entire activity is incorporated into the syllabus. These eco-systems are already functioning in Tiruchengode and Chennai
  • Yousuff is awaiting patent for the Little Farmer activity kit, which is designed in-house
  • For details, [email protected] or call: 96263-77677. You can also visit www.littlefarmer.in

He says children are curious about farming. “Recently, at the Young Learners Fest in Chennai, while there were workshops on aeromodelling, art and craft, robotics, so many children in the age group between 14 and 16 attended our workshop on farming, which is a good sign.”

Faiz Yousuff of Little Farmer

Faiz Yousuff of Little Farmer
 
| Photo Credit:
M. Periasamy

Faiz, who comes from an event management background, has conducted employment remuneration programmes for corporate companies. When he networked with people in the education field, “it struck me that my father A Yousuf is fond of plants. My house is full of greenery. Why not teach farming to kids? That’s how the idea was born.”

He sourced the coir pith base from Pollachi, and pre-mixed the coco peat with nutrients to make it healthy for plants. “It is sufficient for three yields of greens. Once the base was ready, we focussed on designing activities to get the child engrossed. Then came the recipe card on how to make a salad with the greens they grow. We also added a cover where the child can stick a selfie clicked with the plant,” says Yousuff.

All the child has to do is spend 15 to 20 minutes every day with the plant to make the connect with farming. Says Faiz, “They just have to record the observations in an activity chart. When they see the seed sprouting, they know that their plant is healthy. At the end of the activity, they can proudly call themselves a young farmer. Other perks are that their reasoning skills improve greatly. They learn about healthy eating. It motivates them to set up a kitchen garden.”

Faiz says this may lead to the child thinking of an option in farming too. “If one out of every 100 students turns into an organic farmer, it’s a big success for us.” I wonder, as I watch my daughter making plans to grow carrots…

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