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When I first arrived at the Cultural Center at Rincón, the first thing that caught my eye was this ghost of a greenhouse in the Center’s garden area. It seemed as though it was just waiting for someone to come and revitalize it, love it, and fill it with all sorts of greens. Naturally, I thought this person was yours truly. I couldn’t get this greenhouse out of my mind for the following weeks. How perfect, I thought, I can work with the older people of the cultural center to plant and care for the greenhouse while providing them with a fun outdoor activity, while also providing the Center’s kitchen with fresh and organic veggies. Peace Corps project heaven!

Greenhouse

So I started asking around. Why was the greenhouse abandoned? Why was the plastic cover all ripped up? What was the story of this greenhouse? In order to learn more about the greenhouse and the community of Rincón, I started to volunteer at the Center every Tuesday, cooking with the women and talking with the abuelitos. While cutting up some nopales, I started to learn more and more. The greenhouse had been an initiative of the DIF a few months back. They built the greenhouse with the same intention that I would have, to supply fresh veggies to the Center while cutting some costs since they provide comida for about 50+ people twice a week.

The reason it was abandoned. Well, the young kids of the community destroyed the greenhouse, not once, but twice. Disheartened, the DIF decided to give up on the project. It wasn’t going to get anywhere, they decided. I thought differently, I decided that I would build my way up to the greenhouse. First, I would gain the trust of the abuelitos, next I would start a small herb garden with them, and finally, if all went well, we would get started on the greenhouse. Tired of looking at the waste strewn across the greenhouse’s soil, and thinking of all the chemicals leaking into the sustainer of future organic veggies, my first order of business was to clean up the greenhouse, to send a message that this greenhouse was ready, bueno, or about to be.

The Clean-up

The greenhouse was littered with plastic bottles because once the project was abandoned; the Center began to store the plastic bottles it collected for resale in the greenhouse. Literally hundreds of plastic bottles littered the floor. And so, I got to work. Bottle after bottle was disentwined from the captive roots of the grass, and placed in a bag, ready to be reused and recycled. With the clean-up out of the way, I asked the Director of the Center to follow-up with the collection of the bottles, so they wouldn’t continue to decorate the fence line of the greenhouse.

After

As it sometimes goes with Peace Corps service I was pulled in a million different directions for a few weeks after the big greenhouse clean-up and was unable to work at the Center for two Tuesdays in a row. This past Tuesday, finally, I had arranged my schedule to get back to the Center with the hopes of talking to the abuelitos about the following week’s workshop to plants some seeds so the herb garden would be ready for the approaching spring. Cilantro, basil, rosemary, chamomile maybe even some swiss chard and other lettuces. All the seeds were collected and ready to go. I had even attended a urban gardening course this past Saturday to brush up on some planting details.

Like every Tuesday, I rolled up to the Center on my bicycle, excited and ready to get the day started. However instead of finding the “after” picture of the greenhouse, I found the same greenhouse that I had first met a few months back – a sad greenhouse with plastic bottles strewn all over the floor. Since one cannot often control first reactions, a hot anger rushed up through my entire body. I felt my muscles tense up, and in order to expel the negative energy from my body, my mind kept pressuring me to let it all out and just scream. Scream because I had already invested time and energy into planning this project. Scream because sometimes with every step forward in Peace Corps service, I later find myself two steps back. Scream because sometimes the bad intentions can and do defeat those that are good. A few minutes of pacing later, I had calmed down, and went into the kitchen to forget about the greenhouse for a little and begin to prepare the day’s meal…

Once more, an abandoned greenhouse.

the twigster,

Josephine

PS: Sometimes the bad moments make the good moments in Mexico that much richer.

 

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