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How to build a greenhouse with limited resources And 8 people who have no idea what they’re doing | Nourish International

June 10, 2007 | Posted in 2007, Guatemala, NC State, UNC | By

By Pavak

Step 1: Level the plot

If you’re the lucky, the plot chosen for the greenhouse to be built upon will be level.
If you’re us… it won’t.
So here’s the deal, you’re standing on a slope. You want to build there. It’s sloped. If this were the States you could call up the local contracting agency, they’d bring in a bulldozer and voila! Level plot! Unfortunately you’re not in the States.
Crap.
Panic?
I think not!
All you need is a broad wooden plank, a sturdy wooden pole, two pieces of rope and two oxen. We call it “El Toro.”
Oh wait, you were thinking this part would be easy now, weren’t you? Ha! You forgot the small detail of having limited resources. The changes this would make? Simple- just replace the two oxen with two able-bodied team members. It helps to wrap the rope around your hips once before tying a knot. Dig in your boots… and pull!

Ok… so three days and 25 cubic meters of dirt and one upturned landfill later (you didn’t think that all you’d end up moving was dirt did you?) you have a (reasonably) level plot. Continue on…

Step 2: Plan the greenhouse
Here’s what you’ll need:
3 local Peace Corps volunteers whose entire purpose in life for the next two years is agriculture.
1 aging cynical American ex-pat freedom fighter addicted to nicotine and caffeine. Mad skills with grilled cheese are always a plus.
1 computer preloaded with Microsoft Excel to create mechanically precise (ha!) sketches of the planned assembly.
Google.com
8 people that have no idea what they’re doing.

Here’s what you do:
Trial-and-error.

Tips:
PVC is your friend.
PVC glue is evil and must be avoided like it carries the plague. Or Dengue Fever.
Duct tape rules. I wish we had some…
Packing tape is typically worse than useless. Masking tape… don’t even bother.

Step 3: Build the greenhouse
Here’s what you do:
Trial-and-error.

Think I’m kidding? Think again.

Now, you might look at these instructions and think to yourself, “Man, I’m screwed…” but keep in mind that god loves development workers. Things have the most ridiculously insane tendency of just working out. I mean, not more than 48 hours ago I was standing in the plot we’ve been building the greenhouse on with a sinking feeling in my gut upon the realization that the PVC piping we purchased was too thin and would not hold weight. Today? Well, let’s just say there’s a smile on my face again. Over the course of the past few days I think we’ve been given a taste of what some people working here go through for years at a time, the rollercoaster ride from optimism to despair and back again. Besides, even jaded old dogs sometimes need the naïveté of a group of 8 American do-gooders to remember why they came here in the first place. After all, we’re Nourish International, and while we may not end up saving the world, you can sure bet we’re going to try.

Pavak out.