TCS GIN team has implemented Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), beginning this December to insure that all crops harvested in the greenhouse are sold.
The 15 people who subscribe will pay a fixed cost of $20.000 COP per year that guarantees they will receive crop deliveries every month. Although subscriptions are limited, there are still some spots available.
“CSA is a system used by many communities worldwide to connect producers and consumers. Therefore, we thought it would be a good idea for our school, because then we would have specific people to which we knew we had to deliver crops to and we would have a constant income to the greenhouse,” Juliana Aristizabal, Student Greenhouse Manager, said.
Britta McCarthy, GIN manager, has purchased from CSA in the past and worked with the greenhouse in her past school in La Paz, Bolivia. She also knows about communities that have farms with very successful CSA programs.
“This school is four times the size of my old school, I think there is participation in both; however, here it’s harder to communicate things to the whole school due to its size. Also, the greenhouse’s capacity very low compared to the size of the school,” McCarthy said.
For the first harvest, which will happen at the start of December, there will only be three different types of vegetables; lettuce, cilantro and basil due to the lack of space there is with the performance of an elementary school science project. The idea is for the variety to either increase or change throughout the year so that people receive different crops.
“Although there is currently a lack of space for growing more crops to deliver, I believe the interest of the younger students will make the greenhouse more sustainable as it has educational value which I believe is one of the most positive impacts this project has towards our school,” McCarthy said.
There have already been a few teachers and staff members who have signed up for the program. Elementary School secretary Viviana Perez, paid for the subscription as she saw this as an easy way of getting fresh and organic vegetables.
“I would like this to happen permanently, it would be very interesting if deliveries or crop harvesting happened weekly or every fifteen days in order for us to have all the vegetables we need fresh for each week,” Perez said.
The team is currently working on different ways to communicate with all of the new updates and important events that happen in the greenhouse. The idea is to also get parents involved as many of them like organic vegetables but don’t actually know that they can buy them at school.
“We could develop team meetings, presentations and banners to ensure that everybody at TCS, including parents who are mostly interested but never know about this possibility offered by the school,” Aristizabal said.
TCS GIN team’s main goal is to create a greater impact in the school community and does not rule out the possibility of building a larger greenhouse.
“The only way to make a bigger impact would be to make a bigger greenhouse. However, we’re still piloting and testing out how these programs work at a smaller scale to make sure that if we invest more money or build a bigger greenhouse that it would be viable,” McCarthy said.