Oro Verde Report

“Oro Verde” – Sustainable Agriculture Group

2010 Winter Research Report


The people in San Pablo have been working in agriculture for many decades and are experts in their practice. A few years ago San Pablo obtained a loan to receive greenhouses and now have a few years left or less to pay off the loan. The purpose for the greenhouses was to initiate the idea of growing marketable roses and tomatoes in order to generate a source of income. Through the years they have managed agricultural productions in the greenhouses very well during their wet season (May to late October), however, the community desires something more – to grow during the cold, dry, and frosty off-season (November to April) to increase their annual income. This is the second season they have attempted to grow in the off season. Currently, in the off-season, the greenhouses face challenges such as winter ventilation and pest and disease control. Limited funding, limited technical education, no local technical support, and lack of financial resources are challenges the community greenhouses face .

“ Fresh, outside air must ventilate into greenhouse to remove the warm, moisture-laden air from within the greenhouse. If moist air within greenhouse is not removed excessive condensation will occur. Economic problems associated with condensation in greenhouses are fungus diseases, difficulty in maintaining a clean greenhouse, more rapid deterioration of structural components, and damp, uncomfortable environmental conditions for the workers. The condensation occurs when the warm, humid air in the greenhouses comes into contact with the cold surface, structural members. The air in contact with the cold surface is cooled to the temperature of the surface.”

Through the first eight weeks the Cal Poly team dedicated their initial efforts in research and communication with the San Pablo team in order to develop a deeper understanding of the agricultural issues. The next three weeks Cal Poly compiled collected information and created an Winter Trip Action Plan including a questionnaire survey and photos of greenhouses. During our Winter Research Trip (WRT) the Cal Poly team and San Pablo team met for the first time. As a group we gathered information by going from house to house using our survey, but the most affective method in learning about their agricultural practices and problems was through casual conversation during greenhouse tours as we exchanged questions, answers, personal stories all while taking pictures and observation notes which allowed us to produce this summary document.


About San Pablo’s Agriculture

A. General Information

i. Community Population Estimate 1,040 (160 families averaging 5-8 members per family)
ii. Geographical Location located in the eastern part of the municipality Tacana, San Marcos, 2,904 meters (1.8 miles) above sea level with a regional slope range from 20-98%.
iii. Existing Climate Conditions
a. Humid Subtropical Forest
b . Temperature 12 degrees average Celsius (53.6 degrees average Fahrenheit). Sometimes drops 2 degrees Celsius (35.6 degrees average Fahrenheit).
iv. Greenhouse Market
a. Domestic not International
b . Sold in municipality center to the surrounding communities. Proper market not established due to financial hardship; however leaders and community members say it will happen someday

B . A History Story of Greenhouses and Greenhouse Crops

A San Pablo individual, Feliciano, President of Coco?, took a trip to Mexico and another country where they found successful greenhouses with tomatoes and roses growing inside. He thought this was a great idea for food security and business opportunity for his people.

C . How They Develop Agricultural Knowledge

iv. ‘ Traditional’ ; passed from generation to generation OR ‘ Academic’
a. When there is a full moon crops are harvested because they have all essential nutrients
b . Family and neighbor help plant crops like potatoes or corn
c. Irrigation: drip system; no irrigation at night
d . No females work in greenhouses due to being either a house wife and/or other involvements like Women’ s Children and Youth, Social Audit Committee and Organization of Women; however, in the future there is hopes for a plant nursery to be managed by only women or co-ed.
v . Today, new knowledge and ideas through experiments within different greenhouses are shared by word of mouth, especially by the younger ones. Cal Poly never asked if they learned and applied
from things learned via web.

D . Greenhouse Management

iv. Structure:
a. Typical PVC piping
b . No concrete floors due to financial hardship
c. Nylon wall and roof coverage have rips but cause is unknown and not fixed
d . Roof shapes are either peak or convex?NEED MISSING INFORMATION DETAIL?

v . Location:
The greenhouses are fragmented into various locations within the rural hillside community and each are managed differently. The reason for different management is because of the different families who work within them. Additionally, various locations rather than one main location may possibly be due to a desire for the greenhouses to be in close proximity to the family workers home for better time and attention management.

iii. Climate Control:
a. Do not have necessary tools to sufficiently control climate.
b . No humidity and temperature recording devices or journals for recorded readings. Essential in determining how to control climate within greenhouses.
c. Current ventilation is probably the wrong method.

iv. Pest and Disease:
Seeds: not organic, but the process is/ Pest and Disease: off-season only/ Chemical Fertilizers and Pesticides: off-season only (NPK = 100libs 20-20-20 kmg/s); wet season is all organic! /Greenhouses had either just one or both plants. / Other plants planted: Chrysanthemums with roses and Onions with tomatoes.

a. Roses
i. Person: Yony Velasquez
ii. Problem: fungus called Oidium, a dry powdery mildew
iii. Reason: no ventilation results to too much water from condensation
iv. Management: Currently, testing out different cutting methods, cover rose flowers to grow bigger flowers. No solution for reason and problem.

b . Tomatoes
i. Person: Yony Velasquez
ii. Problem: Whitefly; do they know the scientific name?
iii. Reason: they can pass through?NOT QUITE CLEAR?
iv. Management: Has natural predators, don’ t remember if he knew the scientific name. Grow tomatoes about 5 feet high. No solution for reason and problem.

E . Interest

• Business
i. Increase price; Later investment savings for a plant nursery and send local children to school

• Climate Control
i. Need for thermometer and humidity devices for daily readings and Treatment for winter ventilation problem

• Greenhouse Plants
i. Pest and Disease Control
a.Desire the organic way, i.e. natural predators. How to multiply them?
b . Don’ t want suggestions using chemical fertilizers or pesticides
a. Is there a way to do organic fertilizer other than organic compost?
iii. Seeds
a. Want to obtain organic seeds, but how?
b . Organic seeds would contribute to an interest in their own Seed Library
c. Do they know how to plan and later manage a Seed Library?

F . Ideas

• Business
i. Grow certain tomatoes to sell internationally

• Climate Control
Possibly design and build prototype of creating your own humidity and/or temperature device if San Pablo and/or Cal Poly does not desire to buy one. And possibly design and build an appropriate greenhouse prototype with similar existing San Pablo greenhouse material to show one or various winter ventilation improvement methods. During winter research trip Schwartz bought extra coverage material which is being used for ventilation method experiment.

• Greenhouse Plants
i. Pest and Disease Control
a. Transparent sticky material wrapped outside of existing lights in greenhouses attract bugs allow 1) study observation of pest 2) idea to multiply natural predators to treat pest, but must be only in one greenhouse called something like an Insectory Greenhouse Lab.
ii. Seeds
a. There are NGO’ s that can possibly send seeds (Save the Children Fund and FAO)
• Management
i. Greenhouse Journal [now being used by Yony starting WRT]
a. Recordings allow for ongoing management survey. Within this the journal…
1 . Encourages design process thinking

  • 2 . Facilitates self analysis, organization, growth, and network sharing information within community
  • 3 . Flexible and appropriate solutions including conscientious organization, income budgeting
  • 4 . Ability to seek efficient help
  • 5 . Organization poses question: How are you investing? Is it efficient? Is what you are investing in supporting your objectives?
  • 6 . This is also for important for finding funding
  • 7 . Also educate managers, creates another type of school: teaching self and teaches other through the network. As a result through the teaching learning process = empowerment and inspiration to other members of the community and other communities



• Implement new ideas of 1) Greenhouse Journals 2) Extra coverage material 3) Silver cones on tomatoes?
• Develop and collect interviews with families of San Pablo, if any, who have previous experience in growing under wet and dry seasons in the open field and in the greenhouses.
• Find, if not, Create a local knowledge source about pest and disease management
• Establish a business where we can ensure that organic production in abundance and quality is grown at any time of year.
• Investment savings to plan and develop for a plant nursery and send local children to school.
• Allow San Pablo to set an example for the surrounding community through ‘ Guateca’ , Appropriate Technology in Guatemala.
• Establish good communication with all past, current, future members of Oro Verde


• Various greenhouse construction, orientation layout, and locations will need various solutions rather than one
simple solution that can apply to all greenhouses.
• Coop didn’t want to do survey. Possible issue in creating a full circle network within the community because
they own the greenhouses, thus are a major stakeholder.
• No local knowledge source (no person, no books, no school) for organic pest and disease management or
ventilation, humidity, and temperature regulation.
• Language and Long Distance Communication prevents free flow of shared information
• Cal Poly’ s different teams, individual commitment levels (In Cal Poly this is a Class, In San Pablo this is a Life)


• The current locations of the many greenhouses were not placed or positioned in the right area. Not enough surrounding open space on the exterior of the greenhouse, lack of sun due to shading caused by 1) terraces, 2)tall vegetation, and 3) various building structures, no plants to block potential winds. If they plan for a better layout in the future they can improve their management and business success.

a. Is their a possibility of finding an expert on site, environmental and development planning?
b . Can we move the greenhouses?
c. Planting appropriate plants for wind buffers?

How can San Pablo gain knowledge on what specific pest are beneficial and not?
Is creating a prototype the next step for helping their agricultural needs? If not, what? If yes, what appropriate technological prototype(s) can fit the design-build process with only 10 weeks that address any aspect of San Pablo’ s current agricultural issues?
Will we have financing for the prototype? If not, how can we obtain it?
Will San Pablo know how to use, manage, and fix this prototype? If not, how can they? This is a major issue because these built things are usually something that is new, thus are not experts in managing or fixing. So what happens if it breaks and you the designer are not there to help?


• Talk to Headrick (consultant for Pest and Disease Control) to update him on research findings
• Ask various people, including yourself, in Cal Poly and San Pablo what is the most appropriate technology prototype to build at this moment with only 10 weeks that address any aspect of San Pablo’s current agricultural issues.


Cal Poly
Jamie Cignetti
Kaylana Alaysa

San Pablo
Yony Velásquez
Cristian Velásquez




Cristian Velasquez
coming soon…

Yony Velasquez
Synthetic Fertilizer
Organic Agriculture
3 Years Ago began own greenhouse experiences
Greenhouse experiment with with bell peppers, roses, and tomatoes

JEM Movement

With grandparents grew vegetables
1 Week Per Month studies Agriculture because of regular school time

JEM Movement (Marketing)


Jamie Cignetti
coming soon…
Kaylana Alaysa
coming soon…
Mallory Wekeding
coming soon…
Nicole Stanton
coming soon…



“ We have learned the coexistence of a group, learned that it is possible to communicate even with the language barrier as long as we do our part through our efforts. Through partnership with Cal Poly we hope to improve our knowledge and power to change the reality for many people so other generations can receive advanced education.”

“ It is important to convey the feelings to improve the relationship and produce good results.”

Cal Poly Team Members
“ We learned that our San Pablo team are highly motivated to a) manage greenhouses successfully and organically and b) add value to the community through the project (i.e. raise for money for a future plant nursery and raise money for local children to go to school.”