The SFX School, Siolim, is the only school in the state of Goa to consistently host an annual ‘Festival of Plants & Flowers’ for the last twenty-nine years. Even the Covid pandemic did not stop the event, which, like all educational services, went online. Students could send their essays and posters by e-mail as attachments, and the judging would also be done online.
This year, it is back with a bang in the offline mode that was the ‘normal’ till March 2020. Three pre-event activities have been conducted to get the students of different schools in Goa thinking about the theme of the 30th edition, ‘Vegetables and Fruits from the Wild’. The sub-theme is ‘Save our Soils’. The Botanical Society of Goa has supported the event with human resources and technical support from the start. The event raises its own funds.
COMPETITIONS, WORKSHOPS & MORE
The focus is on local content because there is a new awakening about Mother Nature’s bounty. Kuddukichi or piddukichi bhaji from Celosia argeratum; talkuleachi bhaji from Cassia tora; the alloo bhaji of Colocasia esculenta; the vowchi bhaji of Basela alba; the fagllam or spiny gourds of Momordica dioica; and the young leaves of the wild Clerodendron serratum or bharangi make a good vegetable dish.
The Multivitamin Plant or Katuk, Sauropus androgynus, is a small shrub that can be grown as a hedge and used as a leafy vegetable as we do at home and so do many others in Goa. Some persons who have this plant as a hedge do not even know that it is a vegetable plant!
Drumsticks of Moringa oleifera are traditional vegetables. It was news to me that the fruit of the mangrove tree chipp, Soneratia alba, is used in milkshakes. To familiarize the next generation with some of the vegetable plants in the wild, the Green Heritage Eco Club of SFX School, Siolim, Bardez, has invited all schools across Goa state to participate in a ‘Projects Competition’ that involves growing one wild vegetable plant in a pot, making a poster on its uses and health benefits, explaining it all and, if possible, bringing a cooked sample.
The posters received from students of schools from Std IX to Std XII, in the pre-festival competitions, are indicative of a high level of interest, and knowledge of the subject, specially in the rural and semi-urban schools.
A ‘Walk the Talk’ nature walk with SFX alumna, Dr Maryanne Borges e Lobo at Siolim was well attended by students of different schools.
One of the competitions on August 20, 2022 is in the skill of wedge grafting – whether epicotyl or softwood – in mango, cashew or hibiscus. Some schools have agriculture graduates as alumni or staff, while others have access to self-taught grafters to teach their students. For the host school and the Siolim Super School Complex, Priyanka V Naik did the honours exactly one month before the competition date. Invitation letters have been sent to the schools and the festival is also featured in Budsport, the in-house magazine of the BSG that has been posted to all its member schools.
The exhibition is open to the public from the afternoon of August 20, 2022 till August 22, 2022 afternoon, while entry is free. Come and see for yourself the fruits and vegetables from the wild.
The author is the former Chairman of the GCCI Agriculture Committee, CEO of Planter's Choice Pvt Ltd, Additional Director of OFAI and Garden Superintendent of Goa University, and has edited 18 books for Goa & Konkan