The process of becoming one of our Family Greenhouse recipients is simple yet important. Our agriculture staff present the opportunity to a community during a community meeting (these meetings usually require the presence of all community members). Interested families discuss with our staff their ability to comply with our requirements: Providing the materials for the structure (typically inexpensive, locally sourced wood), the manpower needed to construct the structure (typically provided by friends and family), and the motivation to ensure the greenhouse’s use and upkeep. We provide the plastic, nails, mesh and irrigation system. The splitting of these costs and labor is a way to ensure ownership on the part of the recipient. We are able to make exceptions to this division for special cases.
Our agriculture staff provides technical assistance in both its construction and in fruit and vegetable production within it (generally just for the first year). If needed, we donate plants and seeds to get the family started.
The School and Family Greenhouse Projects have enabled families to introduce fresh vegetables into their regular diets and improve their economic opportunities. Perhaps one of the most signiﬁcant measures of the success of this project is the fact that communities have taken ownership of the process and begun to build additional greenhouses without AASD support, and work directly with the local government to accomplish their goals.
Today, we continue to support families that want to build greenhouses and have expanded our community projects to focus on providing capacity-building, including workshops and farm visits. Workshops take place in the communities themselves (though we also occasionally host them at Ecohuella). Workshop topics include management and preparation of soils; making organic fertilizer; and ecological pest and plague management. Workshop dates and times are determined in advance with the community and take place generally five times per year per community. Farm visits occur about once a month for each farmer we work with, and are coordinated in advance with the farmers.
Monitoring and Evaluation
To ensure community projects are meeting their goals we have defined metrics and indicators to measure the efficacy of our projects. We are intentional about checking our assumptions and while we whole-heartedly believe in our projects, we also believe in the importance of monitoring and evaluating community projects and their success so that we can continue to improve and evolve.