A community partner from Bolivia shows off some of the crops she grew in her new greenhouse

Benita, a community partner from Bolivia, shows off some of the crops she grew in her new greenhouse.

Since being funded by Outreach’s donors in 2018, the greenhouses built by community-led teams in Bolivia have provided a big boost to families, in the form of improved nutrition and lower grocery bills.

To get a better idea of just how much benefit the greenhouses represent, Outreach HDF Maria del Carmen completed an informal 3-year study, focused on households’ food spending and respective consumption of vegetables for each of the 22 families involved in the greenhouse project.

These families report that since their greenhouses were constructed in 2018, they now spend 20% of what they paid for vegetables at market prior to construction, as well as reporting that they’re eating more than twice as many servings of vegetables per day.

Food for Thought

This data is important for a few reasons. The greenhouses project epitomizes Outreach’s approach to resolving poverty through the experiential and empowering benefits of community-led development. The greenhouses allow for vastly increased nutritional diversity through the crops grown there, which helps keep everyone healthier in the short-term, and will go on to provide myriad long-term health benefits. Finally, it demonstrates that the greenhouses are providing a sustainable means of generating household income for families, as they sell excess vegetables at the same markets where they once shopped for produce, just as intended.

Maria del Carmen’s study also included her own backyard test lab. “On my own personal initiative, I have produced three kinds of vegetables in my home yard, with the purpose of making some observations that could be useful to Sacha Sacha families who work in greenhouses.

Going Deeper

Her experiments continue. She’s currently cultivating a cornucopia of new plants to help find new varieties to plant, as well as growing more expertise she can impart. Currently, her garden lab contains chili peppers, locoto (spicy peppers, a favorite in Bolivia), prickly pear (“seed propagation), ginger, cinnamon, aloe (“root and root propagation”). Some veggies taste great, some fetch a good price at market, and some, like aloe and prickly pear, can be used in a variety of ways, including as a renewable source of seeds for the next harvest.

 “When the prickly pear, cinnamon, aloe vera and ginger seedlings are the right size to be transplanted, I plan to take them to the Sacha Sacha greenhouses that have the best yields, so they can be propagated and then the families can share them with their group, such as I did with my oregano, thyme, rosemary and locoto,” says Maria.

Besides families reporting that they’re now eating more than twice as many vegetables every day, households have all been able to slash their veggie-buying budgets by 80%, which is as great as it sounds for their financial stability.

Apolinar, a community member from Bolivia, tells us, “During this time of quarantine, we have had to travel to [market] by bicycle and on foot to stock up on products such as rice, sugar, soap, etc., but our greenhouses are supplying us with vegetables.” 

Inside and outside Bolivia’s new greenhouses, good things grow when nurtured.


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