Andean Vegetable Greenhouses

Life in the Andes mountains is hard. The climate is harsh, the air thin, and poor soil means malnutrition is a constant problem for children and adults.

At more than 13,000 ft above sea level, in the department of Quebrada del Toro in Salta, indigenous communities battle with harsh growing environment characterized by marginal lands and night frosts. These challenges make it nearly impossible to grow much more than root crops and a few grains; resulting of lack of dietary diversity for their families.

CEDA partnered with Fundación Pueblos Nativos working with these high altitude communities to build greenhouses at schools that enable vegetable cultivation that would otherwise be impossible to grow in the existing climate. The vegetables grown in the greenhouses provide nutrients and vitamins necessary for a healthy diet. Families from these communities volunteer to work at these greenhouses, bringing organic vegetables to their homes. School teachers use the greenhouses as a classroom to demonstrate vegetable cultivation to students.

The Andean Vegetable Greenhouses project build upon the communities adaptability and communal work ethic. Biointensive means organic agriculture that focuses on using the resources that you already have available — one principle that we have introduced this idea of adaptability.

Quebrada del Toro, Salta

Located northwest of the province of Salta, on National Route No. 51, it covers an area of 5110 km² (same area as the State of Delaware).

There are 25 rural communities, 18 elementary schools, one rural high school in Quebrada del Toro. Just over 13,000 rural inhabitants, most of them people of ancient indigenous generations.

Greenhouses’ Construction

The greenhouses are constructed of adobe and rock walls, wood frame ceiling covered with 200 micron-thick plastic called agrofilm containing various additives that counteract the UV rays, prevent fungus/mold, and for elasticity. It use a natural homemade fertilizer and pesticide called Biol to increase production and ensure a healthy crop.

The cost of building a greenhouse is $6,500 USD. Since these can operate year round, they can become self-sustaining in under two years.

The greenhouse is transformed into a flexible classroom that becomes an experimental and productive laboratory.

Claudio Caceres, founder and CEO of Fundación Pueblos Nativos