Land Projects – Table of projects – Nadukuppam
Nadukuppam Forest is our largest forest and resource centre outside Auroville. It is 40 km north of Auroville, 12 km inland from Marrakkanam in the Villupuram district of northern Tamil Nadu. Here, 35 acres of arid land have been planted with Tropical Dry Evergreen Forest species along with vegetables, fruit orchards, rice, marigold and medicinal plants, demonstrating agro-forestry.
Being a younger forest than Pitchandikulam, Nadukuppam showcases different aspects of forest regeneration and land management along with bio-diversity, permaculture, innovative cropping patterns and appropriate technologies. The forest provides students, womens’ self help groups and the farming community with opportunities to see how a forest grows, and participate in workshops to learn this sustainable agriculture.
Activities and structures in Nadukuppam include:
- A women’s centre where groups can meet, take part in workshops, plan village development and coordinate their income generating programs.
- A health drink preparation area where malnourished students receive a special highly nutritious drink supplement to encourage healthy minds and bodies.
- Four spirulina tanks producing spirulina to include in the health drink program. The spirulina units are also a case in point for income generation for women’s self help groups (SHGs) and their programs; and the SHG members are responsible for monitoring and preparing the spirulina.
- Anindigenous plant nursery that currently has 30000 seedlings of Tropical Dry Evergreen Forest varieties for use in plantation programs and nursery development. It also provides the basis for nursery training for women’s self help groups.
- Accommodation and offices where project staff can coordinate and monitor the various activities
- A demonstration vegetable garden displaying organic farming principles such as the use of effective micro-organisms (EM), panchakavya, vermi-compost, amrut pani and integrated pest management. The vegetables are used for the health drink program with additional produce being sold in the local market as an income generating activity for self help groups.
- A medicinal plant garden with information signboards to provide a demonstration of household herbal gardens and simple herbal health remedies. The plants are also to be used as raw materials for the future herbal medicine dispensary that is to be established at the women’s centre.
In 2003, this rural government school had just six teachers and three classrooms for 530 students, with water facilities or toilets, and only two trees in the school compound. The academic pass rate was just 10%.
Four new classrooms have been built, and existing buildings have been improved through the provision of benches and decorative murals. School buildings were painted and signboards erected displaying pictures of the indigenous flora and fauna. Encouraged by the many developments at the School, the state Education Department constructed two new school buildings and recently completed a new NABARD school building. Art and ecology teachers were added to develop creative environmental awareness programs in conjunction with the existing curriculum.
The school is now an environmental center, a model for how targeted environmental education can show how to regenerate land and coastal regions. Highlights include:
- 500% improvement in pass rate(from 10% pass rate in 2003 to 59% pass rate in 2011)
- a dedicated environment centre on the school campus
- an indigenous plant nursery with 72 indigenous tree species – managed, planted and developed by the students themselves
- an organic vegetable garden to provide meals for the school kitchen, and student-run organic vegetable gardens in the five surrounding villages
- over 2000 trees planted within the school compound, plus a three-acre ethno-medicinal forest
- new school infrastructure: classrooms, sanitation, clean water supply and solar energy
- an educational curriculum that is being used in thirty-five other schools in the surrounding districts
Our indigenous plant nursery includes 72 species from the Tropical Dry Evergreen Forest and it provides an outlet for indigenous crops, forest and medicinal plants. The organic vegetable garden produces food for the midday school meals. Over 2000 indigenous trees have been planted within the school compound, as well as a three acre ethnomedicinal forest with detailed signs explaining practical uses of each plant. The children have also set up household organic vegetable gardens in five local villages. All these programs are maintained by students from the school’s Eco Club.
Photos: Children in the seed nursery Outdoor learning, Nadukuppam School ->
To ensure a clean and constant water supply a bore well, water tanks, hand pumps and drinking water systems have been installed, and an integrated sanitation system designed and built. This system recycles and cleans water from the new bathrooms and toilets through the use of effective micro-organisms (EM), fountains, vortex, and a lagooning system. The recycled water is then used in the demonstration gardens and nursery. Solar photovoltaics are also in operation to pump water and supply electricity.
In addition to infrastructure improvements, an Environmental Education curriculum was developed to stimulate students and improve learning.
The curriculum is aimed at primary and middle level students and involves creating teaching materials related to our bioregion. It provides a dynamic learning experience through hands-on activities, exposure trips, eco clubs, nature camps and workshops. Through links and collaboration with the state Education Department and surrounding communities, the teachers are now implementing the Environmental Education Program in twenty schools within the Kazhuveli coastal bioregion, twelve in Villupuram and three in the Kanchipuram districts.
Community Involvement and Education
The Nadukuppam Environment Education Centre (NEEC) serves as a focus for community involvement in integrated rural planning and sustainable development. A new centre offers a space for Women’s Self Help Groups and their income generating programs, providing a base for many of the outreach activities that we operate in nearby communities. The center encourages environmentally friendly initiatives such as indigenous plant nursery development, organic agriculture and medicinal plant cultivation.
Thirty two acres adjacent to the Nadukuppam High School site have been developed under the Kazhuveli Environment Education Trust. This area provides a demonstration site for the community and school in organic farming techniques, agro-forestry and alternative energy (solar and wind turbine). New crops, particularly medicinal plants, flowering plants and vegetables have been introduced to local farmers. Local farmers learn organic agriculture, systems of rice intensification (SRI), vegetables gardening using vermi-compost, effective micro-organisms (EM) and natural insect techniques. A key focus is on ensuring their understanding of the natural environment and the importance of conserving it.
NEEC now plays an integral role in the community and has become a research and teaching space to bring biodiversity back to the Kazhuveli bioregion. The continuing growth of the NEEC forest provides students with the opportunity to observe regeneration of a diverse and rich ecosystem. Three sustainable businesses have been established providing income for women through creating natural medicines, natural foods and spirulina.