Planting Seeds of Environmental Awareness Through Experience

National Headquarters  | December 13, 2021
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Students fertilize plants. Photo/Linda Li

Written by Linda Li
Translated by H.B. Qin
Edited by Ida Eva Zielinska

On October 10, 2021, Taiwan’s National Day, student volunteers from Tzu Chi Youth Association (also referred to as Tzu Shao) visited the Life Science Farm at the Tzu Chi Education Campus in Walnut, California, for a “One Person, One Good Deed” farming experience. 

It is 20 years since Tzu Chi launched the goodwill initiative “One Person, One Good Deed, to Alleviate Calamities” in 2001, in response to the globally shocking 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. The mission of the initiative is: “One Good Deed a Day, to Alleviate Calamities; One Good Deed per Person, Great Love Persists; One Good Deed at Heart, Brings Peace And Tranquility; One Good Deed in Contemplation, Brings Serenity and Purity.”

Students line up to enter the Life Science Farm. Photo/Linda Li

In the morning, Pin Tu, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Tzu Chi Education Foundation, and Lu Sheng Chou, the volunteer chaperon for the Tzu Shao group, led the students to the farm where they would learn about planting and cultivating crops. The organizers hoped that this activity would inspire the students to love nature more, protect the environment, promote vegetarianism, and help maintain the earth’s ecological diversity and balance.

A section of the Life and Health Science Farm. Photo/Linda Li
Teachers explain the process of fertilizing crops. Photo/Linda Li

A Dream Comes True in Walnut

Getting close to nature and learning about farming culture has always been something Tzu Shao students aspire to do, as they rarely get such an opportunity. The visiting group was excited to see the variety of trees, fruit, vegetables, and other crops planted on the farm. Before starting to experience farm work, the teachers gave the students a tour and shared their knowledge and the steps involved in fertilizing fruits and vegetables while the group observed. 

Afterward, the organizers arranged that the students, in pairs, would undertake the fertilization process. Following instructions, the students carried out a series of sequential steps, including measuring, digging pits, burying fertilizer, breaking up and spreading hay, and irrigation. The parents, teachers, and Tzu Chi volunteers were thrilled to see a new generation of young environmental vanguards learning and thus growing up with increased awareness of nature.

The students work in pairs to fertilize crops. Photo/Linda Li
Students learn how to lay hay. Photo/Linda Li

Pin Tu shared that, “This is my first time hosting and participating in an event like this. I’m very grateful for the collaboration of the volunteers from the East Los Angeles area. It was a great effort to create such a meaningful learning and practice opportunity for the children.”

The ‘One Person, One Good Deed’ program allowed the children to experience the hardships of farming, appreciate the preciousness of growing food, and promote healthy vegetarianism for the good of nature and cherishing our home.

Pin Tu, Deputy Chief Executive Officer
Tzu Chi Education Foundation

Upholding a Long-Standing and Cherished Wish for Widespread Vegetarianism

Vegetarianism has always been a concept advocated by Tzu Chi. The learning activity at the Life Science Farm of the Tzu Chi Education Campus in Walnut was a perfect opportunity to introduce the natural growth environment of plants, which complements the plant-based dietary choice Tzu Chi adamantly promotes. In addition to its health benefits, vegetarianism can also save animals’ lives and safeguard the environment.

A volunteer demonstrates the foundations of vegetarian cuisine during the day. Photo/Linda Li

Many parents of Tzu Shao students have been joining Tzu Chi USA’s environmental education efforts as one way of helping to promote a vegetarian diet. Tzu Yen Lin, mother of one of the participating Tzu Shao students, is a vegetarian. She said, “I hope that the children will understand the health and environmental benefits of vegetarianism because they participated in today’s activities. It is actually relevant to each of us.”

Wei Chin, another Tzu Shao student’s mother, shared, “This is the fourth year we have been participating in Tzu Shao activities. Over the four years, we have insisted on protecting the environment with our own actions. We need to do something for the ecological environment of the earth ourselves. I believe that it is everyone’s job to protect animals and the ecology. Children also need to be actively involved.”

Tzu Shao students’ parents learn more about making vegetarian food that day. Photo/Linda Li

But most importantly, perhaps, the Tzu Shao students themselves were impressed by what they got the opportunity to learn. Audrey, one of the Tzu Shao students, tired after getting her hands in the soil, kept wiping sweat from her forehead when a volunteer asked her about the day’s farming experience, and this was her reply:

Through plowing, weeding, fertilizing and irrigating, I not only experienced the hard work of farming but also saw with my own eyes the growing surroundings and process of fruits and vegetables. Although it was a bit hot today, I was able to participate in such an activity, which made me understand and love nature more and admire vegetarian food.

Audrey, Tzu Shao Student

Jenny, another Tzu Shao student, enthusiastically expressed how it was a delightful and memorable day. Not only did she learn to work as a team, but she also got to taste many delicious fruits and vegetables. When asked how she felt about vegetarianism, she replied, “If it’s good for the world, good for people, good for health, good for the environment, why not do it?”

Students also enjoy a delicious vegetarian meal during their day at the farm. Photo/Linda Li

After the day’s hard work, the event ended with a delicious vegetarian meal for the students, and they and their parents left the farm with hearts full of good memories.

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