KIS Outdoor Agricultural Learning Unit Provides Hands-on Lessons in Sustainable Farming

KIS Outdoor Agricultural Learning Unit Provides Hands-on Lessons in Sustainable Farming
Riya Sachdev (Class of ‘23)

“We only get one planet. Humankind must become accountable on a massive scale for the wanton destruction of our collective home. Protecting our future on this planet depends on the conscious evolution of our species.”
– Leonardo DiCaprio, actor, and environmentalist


The agricultural sector is facing the direct impact of the climate crisis through extreme weather variables resulting in low quality and quantity of produce. All over the world sustainable agricultural practices are the need of the hour. KIS strives to be ‘A school the world needs’, which extends to our passion for environmental conservation and sustainability to help save the natural ecosystem. The school is trying to play its role in encouraging environmentally-friendly agricultural methods in this ecologically sensitive area of Palani Hills. 

Recently, the KIS Social and Environmental Experience Department (SEED) inaugurated the “Outdoor Agricultural Learning Unit.” This unit aims to bring the school and the local Kodaikanal community together to facilitate an exchange of knowledge and best practices regarding integrated farming systems and their environmental and commercial benefits. Through integrated farming, the department aims to teach and discover nature-positive agricultural methods for ensuring cognizant utilization of resources, enhanced productivity, profitability, environmental safety, sustainability, and energy conservation. 

This agricultural unit is a unique platform for KIS students, staff, and local residents to practically understand the implications of and solutions to address at least six different Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations, which comprise the SEED framework under which KIS students conceptualize their engagements with the community. These SDGs are Goal 2 “Zero Hunger,” Goal 4 “Quality Education,” Goal 8 “Decent Work and Economic Growth,” Goal 11 “Sustainable Cities and Communities,” Goal 12 “Responsible Consumption and Production,” and Goal 15 “Life on Land.”     

While working in the unit, students improve their social skills, learn to work in teams, and develop a lifelong connection with the ecosystem that delivers them fresh produce. They also understand the challenges faced by agriculturalists, learn about sustainable food production and work equally to reduce gender biases that may exist in the division of agricultural work. Overall, the unit provides a first-hand understanding of the close connection between nature and the process of food production.    

As part of the agricultural learning program, SEED has started a garden, a fishery, and a vermicomposting unit. The KIS Blooming Gardeners’ Club is another initiative for KIS primary school students to learn fundamental lessons regarding food and where it really comes from. There are also plans to start a SEED chicken coop and a goat shed. 

Mr. Kevin, a member of the SEED team said, “The SEED Outdoor Agricultural Learning Unit is a space for practical learning, experiments, collaboration, and knowledge sharing to help individuals gain an understanding of the impact they have on the environment and their individual growth”, which I believe perfectly sums up the aim of this project.

Having volunteered at the SEED garden, I have closely observed the multiple sustainable agricultural practices being applied at the unit. Interdependent farming systems, chemical-free and pesticide-free methods are being used to transition towards sustainable agricultural practices. Reusing the fish water from the fishery for irrigating the SEED Garden is one example of inter-related farming practice. 

The entire school community is excited to get their hands dirty and discover the rewards of growing chemical-free food.  

Riya Sachdev (Class of ‘23)