School farms gain popularity in UAE

Farms on school grounds have been making more and more news in the UAE recently. Schools are now recruiting staff to teach students about sustainable food production, impart knowledge of farming techniques and teach lessons ‘in the wild’.

There are already two schools in Dubai that focus on sustainability and nature. One has a botanical garden and a petting zoo, while the other will soon have a farm in addition to its existing garden.

Meanwhile, a school in Sharjah recently opened a one-of-a-kind forest farm to promote sustainability, wellbeing and environmental protection.

“The project was designed to enhance the curriculum and take learning beyond the classroom. Having a farm on site improves wellbeing, attendance, self-esteem and confidence amongst students. Caring for animals and the environment develops empathy, compassion and life skills,” asserted the school management.

Nav Iqbal, CEO of GEMS Metropole – Motor City School, said: “The students are now engaged with the farm caretaker who looks after the fruit trees, vegetables and animals. The children work on the farm with him, planting seeds and making sure the birds don’t eat them at an early stage of growth.”

“This helps develop patience and a deeper understanding of natural processes in our children as they can see the entire life cycle with their own eyes, rather than just reading about it in lessons,” Iqbal added.

The school organises two farmers’ markets every year, one in winter and one in spring. The proceeds from the market are transferred to the school’s finance department and used to buy future crops and seeds.

Principals emphasise that all these lessons allow students to understand where their food comes from and the effort it takes to produce it.

Source: Khaleej Times

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