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The Greenhouse is Planted!

by Abbey Duke, Founder & CEO

It took 21 excited children no time to plant two flats of plants. And now Stichting Kindertehuis Tamara has a greenhouse full of okra, celery, New Zealand spinach, African eggplant, peppers and more.

My first day in Suriname (Sunday) was also the first day the greenhouse was being built. The carpenters constructed the frame, built beds and stretched shade cloth. They also built a nice workspace and potting table.  In Vermont, we build greenhouses and cover them in plastic in order to increase warmth. But in Suriname, it’s all about taming the sun. The shade cloth also slows down the hard rains and keeps a lot of insects out.

This photo shows the newly constructed house. We have started spreading gravel for the working areas.

On Wednesday, we spread the gravel and topsoil in the beds.

I helped, but Joey and his friends did most of the work. There are very strong community ties here and everyone helps each other out. Once Joey put the word out that he needed help, a bunch of guys showed up and finished the job in two hours. Here is the work crew:

Today, we had an official opening of the greenhouse with many of the people involved in the project. This included a representative from the U.S. Embassy, staff and board from the orphanage and the farmer who grew (and donated) the plants as well as Joey and Moreno (the project manager).  Here are Joey and the chairman of the board of the orphanage cutting the ribbon. Note the plaque that is attached to the greenhouse with the Sugarsnap logo. Sugarsnap will remain in Suriname after I go home!

Then we moved onto the best part: planting. This orphanage was designed to be a short term home for children in crisis. However, there is a shortage of foster homes so some of the children stay as long as four years. Right now, 21 children live at the home although that can vary.  This greenhouse will enable them to grow food for their meals, help them learn how to take care of plants and provide skills for them for the future.

Parma, the farmer who brought the plants, is going to keep coming back to the orphanage over the next three months to teach them how to care of the plants as they grow.  He and Joey are committed to helping these children learn farming and cooking skills.

On Thursday, Joey and I are going to go to Parma’s farm. I’m very excited to see how he grows his vegetables and copes with the heat and rain. I’ll be sure to write about his farm in this blog next week.  In this photo, Parma is getting ready for the kids to come in.

The kids got very involved and seemed  excited about this new project at their home.

Soon after, the house was filled with peppers, celery, African eggplant, New Zealand spinach and okra.

Here is our core team, posing with a YLAI banner. Joey and I are on the right and Parma and Moreno are on the left.

Next up is cooking! Tomorrow, we will be cooking with the kids. On the menu is fried rice with vegetables, fish and grilled eggplant. Check back on the blog to learn more tomorrow.

To learn about the background of this project go to this blog post.

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