New community greenhouse will boost nutrition in Pto. Palomas

greenhouse construction

High school students at work preparing soil beside the newly constructed greenhouse in Pto. Palomas.

Border Partners organized and completed the construction of a new community greenhouse in Pto. Palomas this month. The facility will produce fresh vegetables year round. This produce will supply fresh food to the town’s new community meal site for the needy that provides low cost meals to local residents and to the Ford Elementary school.

The greenhouse is a generous 36′ x 12′ hoop house, constructed with PVC pipe and covered with greenhouse grade plastic. It is situated adjacent to the new meal site, on the south side of the municipal library in Palomas, just east of the Border Partners outdoor demonstration garden. It was constructed and will be maintained by Border Partners staff and volunteers from the community, many of whom participate in the Border Partners’ home garden program.

All building materials were contributed by local merchants who responded to the solicitation of BP’s Peter Edmunds:

  • PVC pipe was donated by Sun Valley Hardware in Deming, NM
  • Lumber was donated by Foxworth Galbraith Lumber in Deming, NM

Since there are few high quality vegetables available in Palomas, the greenhouse will significantly improve access to healthy food for the local residents. The Mexican government supplies dry goods for the new meal site and to the school but no fresh food. Access to fresh vegetables will help local cooks prepare tasty, healthier food for those in need.

The main structure was built on Nov. 7, doors and windows were added Nov. 10 and raised beds were constructed and filled with soil that week. By November 24, all the beds were planted. Four local high school students helped with the project for several days, building the raised beds and transporting the compost/soil from Border Partners’ soil making site at the local stockyard to the greenhouse site.

The greenhouse was an international partnership in the truest sense of our mission – to bring together people from both sides of the border to improve life in this little Mexican border town of Pto. Palomas. The Edmunds’ friends from Wisconsin, Peter and Lynne Nason came the greatest distance to participate. As always we are grateful to all who made this project become a reality.

View the project as it developed on our Flickr album: Hoop Community Greenhouse

EDIT: December 13, 2014–The greenhouse is sprouting. See updated photo:

growing greenhouse

Gardening co-coordinator Juana Lazoya waters the sprouting lettuce in newly planted raised beds of the community hoop greenhouse.

New papercrete greenhouse helps Palomas gardens grow

new seedlings ready to plant

Juana presents a flat of new seedlings ready to plant in a family garden.

By Helena Myers, U.S. Garden Coordinator for Border Partners

Well, it’s happening! Juana’s greenhouse made of papercrete is finished, and plants are sprouting in Palomas.

Our Palomas garden coordinator Juana Lozoya Ortega and her husband Fernando, along with Peter Edmunds and his crew built a papercrete greenhouse to support our Palomas home-gardening efforts. Now buckets and large pots hold plants sprouting in the greenhouse’s warm, sunny environment.

Juana recently took a flat of seedlings the greenhouse has already yielded to a beginning gardening family (see photo atop post). Now those seedlings are all nestled in a new family plot that’s surrounded by cement blocks and covered with plastic.

Our gardening program now counts 16 serious, active gardeners who have plastic-protected beds of at least 4×4’ dimension. They’re already harvesting greens and radishes.

Juana & new papercrete greenhouse

Juana stands proudly in the new papercrete greenhouse.

Juana supports the Palomas gardeners with materials: seeds, compost, wire and plastic. And she continually searches out new gardeners, finding two more in the past two weeks. The enthusiastic gardeners are so proud of the plants they’ve grown from seeds sown in December that they hesitate to cut them. We encourage them to harvest them for salads because, if they leave an inch or more, the plant will grow back.

Palomas residents are familiar with tomatoes, chilies or vegetables that thrive in summer heat. But we plan to gather all the gardeners at Juana’s and make a big leafy green salad to demonstrate how to use winter greens because they are not familiar with fresh uncooked winter vegetable usage. Our plan is to keep gardens producing all year, so eventually people can eat nutritious food without going to the store, where they can only find wilted vegetables.

Last month an expert gardener from Columbus brought soil samples to demonstrate soil improvement methods to our Palomas gardeners. She explained the process of mixing biochar with manure to prepare it to serve as a soil amendment. Fernando is presently now watering and weekly turning a large compost pile, using manure from the stock yards mixed with biochar.

Palomas gardeners

Palomas gardeners help Mother Nature grow their food.

Our future plans are to attempt to propagate fig tree cuttings for all the gardeners and to begin to establish peach tree cuttings. We’re also looking forward to implementing the grey water systems that will result from the new environmental grant Border Partners received. Two gardeners already use water from their washing machines to trees in their yards, so this will extend the water conservation efforts we’ve already begun.

It is an exciting time of new growth in the gardening sector of Palomas!