Remember that time as a kid you dirtied your hands gardening your plants? Making sure the roots stay under soil and water inside dam instead of running away. Of imagining all the fruits it'll bear and all the climbing opportunities? Wishing the mango tree would hurry up.
That sweet innocence of childhood is gone. Replaced by a sense of responsibility to do your bit in improving living conditions. So it was that BTC joined hands with SayTrees yet again on a plantation drive. It was my first one.
Ishan and me met at Silk Board to go together. I had a cup of tea before catching a bus. We got down at Hosa junction bus stop and decided to walk to venue (about 3 KM away, and we refused the auto guys who asked Rs 80). After a brisk walk of 1 KM or so, we stopped to have breakfast - 6 tasty idlis between us at a grand cost of Rs 30. And then we relented and took an auto for remaining distance, using smartphone for navigation. Turned out we were on the opposite lake end of meeting point :P
Overnight rain had turned the walking path around the lake slushy. We phoned ahead to inform the organizers of delay. Near the meeting point, the path was even worse. We gave our attendance and found that many more were having difficulty in reaching the venue by alloted time of 8:15 AM. After a while, we traversed back towards the lake (irony not lost on Ishan and me :P) to gather near the pits dug beforehand for plantation.
Durgesh from SayTrees talked a bit about the event while we waited for other corporate teams to arrive. The pleasant weather, lake, curiosity about the saplings, tools, meeting known BTCians and introducing to others meant it was rather part of day's fun than pain of waiting.
After everyone had gathered (100+ volunteers), Durgesh first took us through planned activities for the day. Then he and Arun gave a demo of planting a sapling:
- Make sure pit is deep enough, if not use the agricultural hoe to dig a bit
- Cut the plastic cover holding the sapling, keeping the hardened soil as intact as possible
- Lower the sapling in pit, one person holds a wooden stick while another ties a knot to the plant. Not too tight, tied in number 8 fashion, two supporting knots if needed
- Then fill the pit with sand, avoid stones and break down chunks of clay sand if needed
- Finish with a bund to hold water
Sounds easy enough. Only it wasn't so ideal every time. We were allocated pits according to teams and then asked to work in groups - minimum 2 and ideally 3 together.
But ours was a 4 numbered one and looking back, it worked out well. Sangeetha, Ishan, Naveen and yours truly took to the task as diligently as we could. We took turns to do those steps, sometimes doing all of it together. We started from furthest corner and moved out as we planted saplings one after the other.
The reclaimed land around the lake from encroaching buildings wasn't the easiest to work with. Overnight rain had hardened clay like soil, harder to work especially after initial work with red soil. The roots tangled in plastic were the worst to deal with. As the day became warmer and our toil took toll, we found ourselves taking break more often. The red bananas never tasted so sweet :P
Chit-chatting among ourselves and with those around helped to take our mind from feeling weary. Organizers came a few times to take pics, words of encouragement, suggestions, live video and so on.
Around 11:30 AM, some started helping in watering the saplings. They formed a human chain to pass buckets of water from a water tank called for this purpose. With hunger gnawing, we four finished whatever saplings we had, washed our hands and sat down to munch khakras. We shared some with others and passed the dates pack for everybody. Shortly, the organizers got a box of samosas and shared with all. I shared Energy bar and Electral as well. (hadn't expected they would come in handy)
Many left after that. With plenty of saplings still left, we ploughed on. We mended a few poorly done plantations as well. Probably because the soil here was particularly hard to work with. By now, few local kids joined us - mostly helping with passing around blade, cutting the plastic, collecting the plastic, etc.
Around 1 PM, we called it a day. Those who had opted to sponsor a sapling paid the organizers. Someone had got a pack of chocolates, which we eagerly finished off. After feedback, we took group pics and dispersed. The four of us had lunch together to cap a wonderfully spent day :)
- Saplings: Neem, Peepal, Mango, Berries etc
- Organized by SayTrees. 100+ people turned up
- Planted around 600
- Maintenance drives planned after monsoon till next July. About 95% survival rate of saplings planted previous years
- SayTrees have already planted 10000+ this year, more planned