The greenhouse team got a late start to the day, because one of the other teams had to be driven to a meeting that was some distance await. While we waited, we took the opportunity to read on the front stoop of the hotel until the pick up came back for us. Once we arrived, we hit the ground running. Nolan and Haley went back out to get more interviews with translator, Hassan. They are continuing to gather different perspectives on water conceptualization from different towns in the area. While they were out, the rest of the team spent some time in the office. Sara again added to financial spreadsheet, this time considering the differing costs of transportation for constructing greenhouses at varying distances. Leah focused on writing a spotlight on one of our farmers in Mozambique who has been successfully growing and selling seedlings as a commercial business for the past few growing seasons. In the same vein, around 2 PM everyone at the office was rounded up to contribute to setting up the seedling shelves.
Chris and Scott had already gone out and picked up some nicely composted soil to fill the seedling cups, but there was a lot of debris that needed to be removed before we could use it for our seedlings. Musa was able to lend us some left over insect mesh to use as a sifting material, so we cut it into pieces and got to work. With the help of Connor from the Nutrition team and Chris shoveling in piles of soil, we got into pairs and sifted the soil until we had enough for about 600 seedlings. Afterwards we had to put holes in the seedling cups so that excess water could drain out. We didn’t have the proper materials to do so, but soon realized that the nails poking out of the greenhouse that to tie up the adjustable glazing, could also be used to punch holes in the bottom of the cups. After a few tries, we were able to pick up the speed and started punching through the cups 3 at a time. We then began to fill each cup with our freshly sifted soil and created even beds on our jerry-can crafted shelves, so they would all sit flat. As a team, we continued to punch holes in the remaining cups, fill them with soil, create even beds, and set up rolls of cups – all while the hot sun beat down on us. Ultimately, the whole process only took about 2 hours with all of us involved. Now we have perfectly prepared seedling bed shelves, and on Monday we’ll receive our order of tomato seeds to complete the planting.
If all goes well, we will build another greenhouse solely for the purpose of growing seedlings and plantlets for commercial sale. This is not only a lucrative business opportunity for our greenhouse customers to start on their own, but is also beneficial to the smallholder farmers who would be purchasing the plants. During the off season, having seedlings grown in the greenhouse creates a significantly higher success rate for the plant once it is planted in open air because this is the most vulnerable stage of growth.