Here at MEF we also have an Eco farm that the volunteers work on everyday in an effort to grow nutritious fruits and vegetables for themselves and as treats for the elephants as part of the enrichment program. Working in the garden is hard work but good fun and they learn about traditional farming methods and the alternatives to chemical fertilisers. It is also a good way of learning about the plant life and tasting unusual fruits and vegetables of Sri Lanka.
We are also experimenting with eco-friendly compost and hope to one day be able to provide fertiliser to poor farmers who cannot otherwise afford it, the fertiliser and compost will be made out of…Elephant dung of course!!!
This also has the added benefit of acting as a deterrent to elephants. Our own elephants show no interest in entering the garden and eating from it, this is because elephants do not like to roam and eat from places contaminated with their poo (who can blame them?!). This will be a great way of farmers protecting and nourishing their crops!
So far the experiments are going well, these tomatoes were bought and planted at the same time, only half were planted into regular soil and half into elephant dung, 3 weeks later and the results are in!
The tomatoes planted in soil reach an average height of 30 cms and are a bit thin and weedy, the ones planted in dung average a height of 70 cms and are already showing fruits! Thats a difference of 40 cms!!!!
The tomatoes planted in soil have been given some dung soup to help them catch up!