Harvest Appeal 2016: How does a greenhouse tackle hunger?
10 October 2016
Our new Hands On project in the Altiplano in Bolivia works with families on a variety of new farming techniques and structures that help families to grow more food. Of all the different techniques, families are often most excited about building a greenhouse.
In the harsh climate of the Altiplano, these greenhouses are a little different to what you might see in your neighbourhood.
Why is a greenhouse important for a good harvest?
The climate on the Altiplano changes drastically within the space of a day. One minute it can be burning sun, the next a heavy hailstorm arrives. Crops suffer in these conditions and many families can only manage to grow a small harvest of potatoes and beans – leaving them with a poor diet and little income.
Greenhouses protect crops from the harsh environment all year round, meaning families can grow other nutritious vegetables like carrots, spinach and chard that won’t be destroyed by heavy rains or hail.
What does a Bolivian greenhouse look like?
- A small window is built in the side of the wall to regulate the temperature.
- A translucent roof made from plastic sheeting lets in light but keeps out destructive hailstones.
- Adobe bricks are made by the family. These are mud bricks that are dried in the sun. They provide a strong foundation and insulate plants from outside temperatures.
- Sealed plastic bottles filled with water line a central path. They warm up during the midday heat, then when night temperatures drop below freezing, the water bottles keep the greenhouse warm and vegetables safe from frost.
- To combat the arid air, open water bottles are hung from the ceiling and regularly topped up to keep the air humid.