Healthy vegetables | HATN.org

Healthy vegetables

Posted in: Bolivia
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In November 2011, a group of Canadian volunteers travelled to the small village of Quelcata, Bolivia to assist in the construction of underground greenhouses. The purpose of this project was to provide families with a cheap and easy way to access healthy vegetables and, in doing so, improve their nutrition and overall health.

In Quelcata, there is no market to purchase fresh vegetables. Typically, townspeople travel to the town of Caracollo, about 25 kilometers by bus, each Sunday to purchase their week’s supply of food. With limited resources, healthy options like fresh vegetables are often low priorities. As a result, our medical evaluation of the townspeople in 2010 found that many people, especially children, were lacking the essential vitamins and minerals found in vegetables and fruit.

The family-sized greenhouses are built underground and covered with a plastic top. The walls of the earth provide the necessary warmth to protect from the below-freezing nights, while the plastic top attracts the strong sun that beats down during the day. With very little maintenance required, these greenhouses effectively produce enough vegetables for a large family.

In November, the HATN team successfully installed twelve greenhouses in the yards of Quelcata families. These volunteer families were each given an assortment of seeds to plant including spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, radishes and chard. They were also given instructions on how to care for their greenhouses and water the plants each day.

Since the team arrived home, our team of Bolivian volunteers has been visiting Quelcata regularly to follow up on the progress of the greenhouses. The results have been fantastic. In just two months, families were consuming some of the leafy greens like lettuce and chard. Now in the third month of production, they are eating radishes, carrots and broccoli. Some families have been so inspired by the success of this model that they have expanded their gardens into their yards.

With a simple design and few materials, these greenhouses have provided a much-needed nutritional boost to families in Quelcata. HATN would like to thank the team members and donors who made the success of this project possible.

 

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