The high tropical village of Corani Pampa, Bolivia, home to 28 families (130 people), is partnering with Mano a Mano to build greenhouses to plant fruits and vegetables.

About Corani Pampa

Corani Pampa, Bolivia

Corani Pampa lies at about 6,000 feet above sea level, a modest elevation by Bolivian standards, at the entrance to the Amazon basin. Village families told us that their periodic heavy rains, along with chilly winds, damage fruits and vegetables; when their seeds are planted outdoors only 30-40% of them survive and produce food. When planted in a greenhouse, over 95% of seedlings will survive.

The Greenhouse Design

Building a greenhouse in Corani Pampa

The design of these greenhouses are covered wood-framed, in contrast to the adobe-wall structures that we have built in other communities. The wood frame of this model greenhouse supports agro-film walls and a semi-shade, translucent plastic sheet roof. An adobe-wall greenhouse would hold too much heat for the Corani Pampa climate. The selected 20 x 26 square-foot design is sufficient to shield seedlings and provides needed protection from blazing sunlight. We expect the wooden structure and roof to last for twenty years, and the plastic sides for five years.

Farmers will use about 90% of their greenhouse space for plants such as carrots, tomatoes, and lettuce that they will pick and consume, and then replant. They will set aside about 10% of their greenhouse space to plant seedlings that take longer to mature, transplanting them outdoors when they are large enough to thrive. In both situations, a greenhouse makes it possible for families to plant several crops per year and have enough food for a healthy diet.

Mano a Mano Greenhouse Projects

Since 2014, Mano a Mano staff at our Center for Ecological Agriculture (CEA) have worked with families in 24 farming communities to build greenhouses that protect seedlings from cold and wind.  The greenhouse model and size depend on the community’s altitude, whether its housing is clustered or dispersed throughout surrounding mountains, and its climate.

We build family-sized adobe-wall greenhouses in the high Andes where housing is scattered and most vegetables and fruits simply can’t tolerate the icy winds.

Jironkota, Bolivia (the yellow-topped buildings are Mano a Mano greenhouses).

We build extra-large greenhouses (about 9 times the size of a family greenhouse) in communities whose public school students live too far away to travel back and forth every day and must stay near the school during the week. Teachers work with students to select, plant, and harvest vegetables and fruits which will feed them throughout the school year.

A large community greenhouse in Sacabamba, Bolivia.

The Corani Pampa Project

Aerial view of the CEA – the yellow-topped buildings on the right are the different styles of greenhouses we have on display to showcase to farmers.

While the CEA built and has used a wood-frame greenhouse at its demonstration farm for years, Corani Pampa is the first community requesting greenhouse projects for which this design is the best choice. Our agronomist Juan Carlos Cardenas returned to Corani Pampa last week to review progress on greenhouse construction, and reports that the total project is 60% complete. One of the builders filmed Juan Carlos’ visit with Doña Irene in her greenhouse.

Doña Irene Talks About Her Greenhouse Built With Mano a Mano

Quechua-speaking Doña Irene tells the agronomist that she is very happy with her “beautiful” greenhouse. She says she will plant every type of vegetable: spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, turnips. She would have to travel many miles to the city to buy vegetables for her family of seven. But she has decided not to purchase produce from the city because she fears that it’s heavily fumigated. She doesn’t want her children to eat food that has been treated with chemicals or medicines. Now, thanks to Mano a Mano, she will be able to prepare healthy food for her children.

Learn More About Mano a Mano’s Center for Ecological Agriculture