Research has found that gardening activities bring a variety of physical, mental, and social benefits. This outdoor activity has been associated with improved mood, reduced stress, boosted self-esteem, improved attention span, stronger heart, healthier social bonds, and many more. In addition, such activities provide spaces for individuals to relax, focus, concentrate, and connect with nature.
For children, early exposure to dirt that the gardening activities involve can reduce allergies to autoimmune diseases. Exposure to sunlight also provides a healthy dose of vitamin D that increases their calcium levels, benefiting their bones and immune system. More importantly, by growing their own fruits and vegetables, they are more connected with nature and get fresh food that they know has not been treated with synthetic pesticides or fertilizers.
Recognising these wonderful benefits and following Begawan’s focus to increase students’ awareness of the significance of being kind to nature, Begawan organised a gardening workshop for Begawan’s Eco Warriors and Teenage students on August 1st and 3rd. This workshop aimed to regenerate the soil in the garden as well as redesign and redecorate. It was guided by Sayu, a Balinese gardening practitioner and expert who has experience in designing, managing, and maintaining permaculture gardens.
At the beginning of the workshop, Sayu shared with the students the idea of permaculture and regenerative farming, and why these ideas should be promoted amid the excessive use of chemical substances that damage the soil and the environment. As a concept, she affirmed that permaculture is an environmentally, economical, and socially friendly way of making use of the soil and land. It is indeed more eco-friendly and costs less than the conventional way of farming. More importantly, the results of this way of farming produce healthier products.
After listening to the idea of permaculture and regenerative farming, the students began a whole group discussion to visualise the design of the garden located just behind Begawan’s learning center. They agreed to transform the garden’s design into a WIFI symbol! During the discussion, the students also divided their roles and responsibilities for revitalising and redecorating the garden. Some of them were engaged in hoeing, some of them cut banana stems that functioned as organic compost, some of them made borders using coconut husks, some of them laid small stones in between the beds, and the rest were busy collecting dry leaves to regenerate the soil. This was a great student collaboration!.
At the end of the workshop, Sayu taught the students how to make an organic liquid fertiliser from a mixture of water, rice bran, compost, and palm sugar. This organic fertiliser will be used once in a week by the students to supplement essential nutrients in the soil needed by all plants for healthy and vigorous growth. (Ircham Maulana)