Greenhouse Dreams

Back in 2009, two visiting Americans discovered what Andean villagers had known for centuries; farming in the Andes is tough.

This realization, by Americans Aaron Ebner and Adam Stieglitz, ultimately led to the birth of an organization with the goal of raising the standard of living for indigenous Peruvians in the Andes, the Andean Alliance for Sustainable Development (AASD).

The AASD combines the collective intelligence learned over the centuries in the communities with the latest scholarly research. The end results are solutions that are tailored for each individual community to alleviate the effects of poverty, marginalization, and social injustices.

But back to farming in the Andes. In short, it’s challenging. Only a few species of plant can survive, and the lack of dietary diversity can lead to malnutrition. To address this situation, Ebner and Stieglitz, working with a local NGO, built a small greenhouse in a local school. They saw the greenhouse as a way of growing a greater variety of food, and improving local diets.

The school greenhouse developed into AASD’s School Greenhouse Program, where kids across the Andes are learning how to feed the future. Then came the Family Greenhouse Program that brought new agricultural learnings to traditional family farmers. Today the organization’s signature program is its Demonstration Farm, located in Calca.

The farm is operated by three siblings who were raised in the area, and went on to study sustainable agriculture abroad under world renowned agronomists. This education combined with deep appreciation for their heritage has allowed them to critically design and implement agriculture services to indigenous communities that aligns with local customs.

The Demonstration Farm is where visitors to Peru can become acquainted with AASD. Guests learn about the various innovative programs, and depending on their level of interest, how they might want to support them. This can even include helping to build a greenhouse.

If you would like to visit the Demonstration Farm, and learn more about what AASD is doing to benefit the communities of the Andes, please take a look at the trips from Elevate Destinations below.