Esperança

Greenhouse School: A Space for Learning and Nutrition in Peru

Written by: Dr. Jesus Tupacyupanqui Zuniga, from Esperança’s partner, CADEP José María Arguedas Cusco

Inocencio Loayza Linares is a teacher and director at the Coluyo Community school in the Q’eros Nation, teaching primary level education. Every morning he prepares his breakfast and goes to work, which is next to his house. He teaches his small but cheerful students from 1st to 4th grade from 8:30 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. Inocencio prepares his classes days in advance and teaches all the courses in Spanish and Quechua, the indigenous language of the region.

This year was a different experience for Inocencio because the Q’eros Nation is located four hours away from the nearest city. Working at 14,000+ feet the climate is harsh and he fell ill on several occasions from respiratory infections in the first months. Despite the adversities, he enjoys his work as a teacher. For the science course, he shares his knowledge by utilizing the school's new greenhouse, supported by Esperança. He imparts knowledge to children about the importance of growing vegetables for food and good health, compost training, recycling, cultivation of seedlings and even new technologies like drip irrigation.

“We’ve equipped the school's greenhouse to teach the science course. The first thing we did with students was prepare the land. We’ve divided the greenhouse into small spaces to mimic plots of farmland. In one of those small spaces we have formed the compost, where students bring fruit peels, sticks and vegetable remains. We’ve grown seeds for seedlings and planted different vegetable seeds such as lettuce, radishes, cabbages, beets, onions, and more. Around the greenhouse we put bottles with water for drip irrigation. Now we are making our first harvest of radishes and preparing them for delicious salads.”

Guillermo Flores Mamani, 11 years old, is a student at Coluyo’s school. He and his 5th/6th grade classmates participate in Professor Inocencio’s science classes. His brothers and parents were also beneficiaries of Esperança’s acclimatized housing project, supplying hot running water and a personal greenhouse in each home. Guillermo, an active student, participates with a lot of energy in all the workshops aimed to improve children's nutritional in Q’eros.

“In the greenhouse we are learning to take care of the plants because they provide nutrition. In school we learn about the importance of eating healthier meals and not getting sick. We eat lettuce in salads with the breakfast they give us at school.”

The small school greenhouse has become a favorite space for the local children. They take care of the vegetables, water them, and remove the weeds. The temperature is also more pleasant than the conditions outside. The vegetables provide food for their school breakfast, which, due to geographical conditions, do not grow naturally in Coluyo. The teachers and children have found new ways of teaching and learning respectively.

Elena Burr