Taking care of business

Today I got to show Ruth around UNAM and point out all the places I knew from when I audited classes there last year. It was beautiful to go back; even some of the hallways of the metro stations graced me with a bit of nostalgia. We didn’t just go for the sightseeing though–we went to get. stuff. done.

Stuff 1: making 100 copies of the flyers we’re going to distribute to every house in the vicinity inviting them to our community meeting where we’ll serve free food and check in on the neighbors about the project. Have they noticed La Colmena at all in the last year? How has it affected them? How can we approach the projects of the library and orchard to be most accessible to them? What overall feedback would they give us about the project to make it the best for them?

Interlude: walking across the campus (or city?), we saw a tilted truck wedged into what once was a fine square plate of metal on the sidewalk.

Stuff 2: finally, we made it to the cafeteria roof-gone-hydroponic orchard in the school of science.

Angel and Anna kindly showed us around the place.

In greenhouse 1, there were lots of healthily germinating lettuce. During mass production season (aka when the cafeteria’s open and consuming hella lettuce), 75 kilos of lettuce are produced weekly in this greenhouse.

This is the model our greenhouse is based on, but ours will be half the length and width, using the same screen for walls and accomodating the same ventilation system. From our greenhouse, we’re anticipating to begin production with 15 kilos of lettuce a week.

Next up, greenhouse 2. Here they grow tomatoes with a window that opens at the peak of the roof and wires rigged up to support the climbing vines. Soon to come: photos of my own upside-down growing tomatoes!

Greenhouse 3: cacti. They’re cultivating tons of gorgeous species of cacti, including some types that grow spikes of different shades of pink and some that are almost extinct.

Greenhouse 4 had aeromatic plants, but we weren’t allowed in.

The roof was made to support the weight of this project, but it has undergone various reparations to keep it up to snuff. These tiles were put in just last year:

Another greenroof highlight was when Anna showed us her germination station.

They germinate sprouts by the kilo, alfalfa out the ears!

Here’s what a bag of the coconut fibers looks like that we use with little red rocks to make the substrate for the hydroponic plants:

Wishlist for our orchard: gingko tree, lavender, and a germination station.

We raced home through the rain via metro in time to say goodbye to the bookbinding teacher and listen to the singing class students do their warmups. As we sat in the kitchen and watched the tea boil, we also ruminated over what it would be like to enlist an industrial stove to la Cocina Economica Zangano. But this sounds like a project for another day. If not tomorrow, when we’ll distribute flyers for the community meeting and move all the plants from the patio to the front of the house and make that broken tv into a flowerpot, then maybe the next day.

Thanks for reading this blog, Rachel! Can’t wait to see you here (or in Chicago)!

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