Juniors Visit the Local Farmer’s Market

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On the 10th of January, around 6:00 a.m., the oldest Junior School students donned their jackets to protect themselves from the chill morning air and enthusiastically headed for the Sa​ndhai,  or in English, the “Farmer’s Market”. In the previous few days, their teachers told them they would be cooking for the rest of Junior School, so they discussed recipes and what they could buy with a given budget of 500 rupees. After making a list of the necessary ingredients, they were ready to head to the Sa​ndhai, the next morning. The group reached Vadavalli by7:00 a.m. They descended the steps of the bus with smiles on their faces eager to collect their items. Around them on the street, were vendors selling ​an assortment of items.Then, they looked up and saw an arch with the sign “​Uzh​avar S​a​ndhai”. Ragavi Akka exclaimed, “This is where we have to go!” They rushed inside and saw several farmers selling their vegetables on either side of the road.

They were prepared for the noise and the crowd and stayed focused on their goal: to get the best vegetables in the market. They inspected several stalls with the same vegetables and looked for those of superior quality. They looked for vegetables that were fresh and vibrant, ladyfingers that were tender, and rosy apples. They found what they were looking for, and the best part was the reasonable prices. The farmers were so excited by their visit, they automatically reduced the price of the produce and selected the best ones. A few Kadamaba students recalled their experience. “They were so generous! One big bunch of coriander was only five rupees!” remembered Deepak. “We were lucky to have the opportunity to buy our vegetables directly from the farmer because when the farmers come and sell it themselves, they get more money than when they sell it through retailers. The prices are so cheap so more people will come and buy their goods and they can sell everything before it rots,” explained Anahita. They were so impressed with the quality of the ingredients that they ​requested an ​increase​ in​ their budget to 600 rupees so they could try vegetables they hadn’t tasted before.

They got back on the bus was several heavy bags containing twenty-four different items including ​uncommon​ vegetables like banana blossom, palm root, and cherry tomatoes. They came back to school and created their own market in the class for their classmates. “​We​ recreated the market in the activity room and it was really noisy. Everyone kept shouting this many rupees, that many rupees over everyone else,” described Bharathi. “After that we classified which vegetables were roots, stems, flowers, fruits, and seeds. Then we looked at what type of plant it was- like if it was a climber or a creeper.” The most complicated part for them was learning how to handle money. They came back and shared how much everything was and used their arithmetic skills to figure out the exact cost of each item because they bought bulk quantities. “The apples cost 150 rupees for 1 kg, so we divided 150 by 5 and figured out each apple cost 30 rupees. Apples were the most expensive thing we bought,” calculated Anahita.

Finally, the entire house began cooking. “The banana blossom was awesome and spicy. We also made avial (mixed vegetable gravy), corn soup, daal palak, vettal kuzambu (tamarind gravy), ash gourd halva, and two types of parathas- methi (fenugreek) and radish,” they all listed one by one.

The next time they go to the S​a​ndhai they plan to interview the farmers to find out more about how they plant, grow, and harvest the vegetables. They can’t wait for their next visit!