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A Journey of Building a Sustainable Mud Oven by Agastyans

Updated: Dec 27, 2023

Building a Sustainable Mud Oven

At Agastya, we're all about eating clean. So, when we wanted to make our own millet biscuits and muffins, we thought, "Why not add a touch of cooking tradition with mud?" It was a simple thought, like the mud benches we already had here and there even before I joined the school. Now, it’s been 2 whole years. In this blog, let me reminiscence and take you back in time into the Journey of Building Our Beloved Mud Oven at Agastya Academy!

Puvidham Inspiration

The inspiration behind this struck when I visited Puvidham school, and oh, the magic I found there! Meenakshi mam had this delightful mud oven, and I witnessed children joyfully baking in it every Sunday. When I got back, I couldn't wait to share it with our Managing Director Vidhya mam. She loved the idea, and that's how our journey began.

Meenakshi mam's guidance became our North Star, providing the expertise needed to turn our vision into reality. The joy of creating something is something wonderful. It's like planting a little seed and watching it grow into something fruitful!

Team Build, Team Bake, and Team Eat!

We really did everything as a team – built, baked, and ate together! The focus was on working together, learning the proportions and textures of how much mud to use or how to make it just right became clear as we worked side by side; though it wasn’t the primary goal. 

Building a Sustainable Mud Oven

We began the base work on 24th Dec 2021 with the help of our Grade 4 children. And on 30th Dec 2021 Meenakshi mam initiated, as she started us off with building the castle-like dome for the Oven. Every two weeks, we took a break and the children, along with enthusiastic teachers, we enjoyed the hands-on experience.

Building a Sustainable Mud Oven: Materials and Process

Building a Sustainable Mud Oven

With Meenakshi mam’s advice, we got all the materials we needed. We gathered some simple materials for our mud oven - local soil, a bit of sand, hay, husk, cow dung, and old broken tiles we found around the campus.

We used sand, mud, and cob, learning the basics of mud building and how to fix cracks and make the oven look pretty with upcycled materials.  For the plastering part, we used cow dung. The children got creative with the broken tiles, making patterns in their own unique way without any instructions. We showed them how to paste, and they took it from there, like little artists. 

To make our oven strong, we fired it three times, and each time, if any cracks appeared, we filled them with more cow dung or mud, giving our oven some extra love and care. 

Building a Sustainable Mud Oven
Building a Sustainable Mud Oven

But wait, there's more sweetness! We added lime water and aloe vera. We harvested aloe vera from our farm, cut them, and let them ferment for seven days. Just like that, we did the same with jaggery. It's amazing how nature's ingredients came together, making our construction journey even more special. 

Learning through Friendly Nudges

Our construction adventure was filled with experiences that taught us more than any book ever could. Challenges or Mistakes? Oh, they were just friendly nudges to correct our path. From handling unexpected rain in December to playful tile-pasting experiments suggested by the children, every challenge became a chance to learn and create.

Processing aloe vera and calcium brought some bubbly surprises, teaching us patience and the art of fermentation. We embraced these hiccups, reimagining and recreating until it felt just right. 

Building a Sustainable Mud Oven

Our journey had no rigid deadlines or work pressure. Instead, it flowed organically, allowing us to learn at our own pace. Supported by our wonderful management, our mistakes turned into stepping stones.

A Sweet Reflection and a Culinary hub

One of the most rewarding aspects is watching as children realized that they could create something practical and beautiful using natural materials. It instilled a sense of pride in their abilities.

The simplicity of using natural materials, working barefoot, barehand, avoiding harmful chemicals, and the little boy enthusiastically cleaning sand from the inside of the dome to children voluntary participation all the special moments are etched in our memories.

Today, our mud oven serves as a hub for culinary exploration. From toasting tapioca harvested from our farms to creating delectable tandoori delights during bonding nights, the oven has become an integral part of our school. 

Building a Sustainable Mud Oven

Temple of Unity
Building a Sustainable Mud Oven

As I gaze upon the mud oven, I see more than bricks and mud; I see the imprints of countless hands, the laughter of children, and the spirit of unity that brought this creation to life.

Looking back at our journey, it fills me with pride and connected to nature. It's not just about making an oven; it's like a special journey that brought all of us Agastyans together. We worked as a team, learned a lot, and found joy in the simple beauty of building with mud. Happy 2nd-year anniversary to building a Sustainable Mud Oven from yours truly Sathya, NEST coordinator.


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