Andean communities face high malnutrition rates due to lack of vitamins and nutrients, which are hard to come by in the remote Peruvian mountains. When this challenge was first made apparent by local school director Fredy Nunez in 2009, a team of graduate students co-designed the first school greenhouse program with him, the community of Pampacorral, and local ag expert Ruben Huaman Quispe. By joining these actors, each bringing a unique skill to the table, we were able to begin addressing the issue of malnutrition in a local and sustainable way.
School Greenhouses produce vegetables that are used in school lunches, adding valuable nutrients and vitamins so kids can stay healthy and focused. Greenhouses also create an interactive classroom and a space for community-wide learning. The youngest students might be learning math by counting broccoli, while older students are studying ecological soil fertility. Meanwhile, each morning a team of mothers harvests veggies and herbs from the gardens to spruce up the school lunch.
Our role is focused on facilitating the whole process from project ideation to incorporating veggies into school lunches. The AASD’s quechua speaking technicians give regular classes in the greenhouse and train teachers in maintenance and educational activities. We make long-term commitments to communities and ensure that they get the resources and training necessary to enjoy years of impactful school gardens and greenhouses. But it’s definitely a team effort; with directors, students, teachers, parents, government officials, and international students, faculty, and donors, all working together through the AASD in order to address malnutrition using sustainable, organic, greenhouse farming.
But it doesn’t end at the school gate. Parents and kids are so involved in the school greenhouses, and so excited by their potential, they have begun to build greenhouses of their own. Because the AASD values long-term relationships with these communities and appreciates the potential impact of this local innovation, we decided to help develop a family greenhouse model. Find out how today hundreds of Families are Growing a Future.
Did you know?
The AASD has been working with school gardens and greenhouses since 2009. In 2014 our expertise was acknowledged by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), by inviting us to consult the Peruvian National School Lunch program in their initiative to develop school gardens. This collaboration continues, as we explore the issue further in a Summer 2017 Research Initiative.