Sol y Tierra: Greenhouse Workshop Project
Harvesting for the Sustainability of All
We are developing a Greenhouse Workshop project, in accordance with the one that our agricultural engineer, Federico Arriola, set up outside of Guatemala City, in Mixco, at the religious boarding school. Here are details about our visit to this greenhouse in December 2018.
These are our goals:
- Set up a greenhouse farming workshop in Chajmaic and teach a team how to continue this work and why it’s important
- Teach the people in Chajmaic to plant non-native vegetables to feed themselves, on their land, and to sell the vegetables to the other villages
The prior first year costs for setting up this greenhouse project are detailed at the bottom of this page.
On August 16-19, 2020, Sowing Opportunities sent our trusted associates Ricardo (project manager) and Antonio (agricultural engineer) to the village of Chajmaic to conduct needs assessments, meet with village and municipal leaders, and test the water for filtration needs. Details from our most recent newsletter are here.
At that time, we made our 6th groceries delivery to the village, thereby having provided nourishment to 67 families, over a quarter of the families of the village.
The needs assessment – through interviews with 72 individuals (52 men and 20 women) – showed that the inhabitants of the village are anxious to learn agriculture – specifically greenhouse farming that our agricultural engineer Federico is piloting in other areas of Guatemala.
The inhabitants’ main focus of such work is to help them feed their children, and every person interviewed expressed commitment in learning and teaching other members of their community. They stated that their greatest preoccupation is lack of work, health and education, for themselves and their children.
An assistant to the agricultural engineer, a communications specialist, and two young men in the village have been identified to participate in the pilot and they are interested in learning as apprentices. They would lead this project for the 150 families who would participate in this work.
After returning home to Antigua, Guatemala, Ricardo met with agricultural engineers Antonio and Federico and the Board of Sowing Opportunities decided that rather than continuing to deliver groceries, we would put our energies towards the following projects in the village:
- A greenhouse workshop project in which, according to the interests expressed through the needs assessment, would grow corn, black beans, green peppers, tomatoes, onions, and carrots, although we will start first with just corn and beans.
The greenhouse would serve as a model and smaller versions would be built at the homes of the participating families, for their food and to sell to neighboring villages, for livelihood.
- A water filtration project which would be built on that which has been developed over the past two years by the neighboring municipality, based on relationships established by Ricardo and Antonio. The good news is that all the pieces are in place with the exception of two: (1) payment of the electricity bill to power the pump and (2) filtration.
Federico has an engineer friend from the UAE who developed highly effective, relatively low-cost filters that would be appropriate for the 600,000-gallon reserve water tank in Chajmaic. (This will continuously deliver water from the river to existing faucets at each of the 250 homes.) This means that filtration would happen at the source, prior to piping the water to faucets at individual homes.
- In Chajmaic there is a small health building that is rarely staffed by medical personnel. Federico has a friend who is both an agricultural engineer and a nurse. His salary onsite as a nurse for the health center would be subsumed under that as an agricultural engineer, thereby reducing project costs.
The updated (October 2020) first year costs for setting up these three projects are at this link.