Partner: White Mountain Apache Tribe
Big Idea: A cheap, passive solar greenhouse built from locally sourced materials
Project Launched: April 2011
Team: Alice Brooks, Xuefeng Chen, Timnit Gebru, Kyle WIlliams
A shift away from agriculture among the White Mountain Apache in Eastern Arizona has led to an erosion of cultural identity and epidemic health issues, especially diabetes and obesity.
Our challenge was to design a state of the art, energy efficient greenhouse as part of a locally grown, healthy foods initiative started by dedicated members of the tribe’s Hydrology Department.
After travelling to the White Mountain Apache reservation, we learned exactly what our partners told us at the beginning of the project: a lack of cultural identity combined with high unemployment rates and massive health issues is taking a toll on the White Mountain Apache community. The tribe has been transformed from a community that once respected its land, ate the plants that grew from it and was fit due to agricultural activity to a place where obesity is rampant and few people below the age of 30 can speak the Apache language. We decided that our mission was to help connect the White Mountain Apache with their cultural identity, which is one of eating healthy, locally grown produce and community involvement in agriculture.
The team identified four key design criteria that will determine the success of an applicator: accurate We have designed a modular passive solar greenhouse built out of locally sourced materials to be constructed by community members of all ages at the Canyon Day Farm site. After detailed analysis with the help of professional architects and engineers, a safe and effective 500 square feet pilot greenhouse module will be constructed by the end of fall 2011 for less than $10,000. This mini-module will be used as a working prototype to ensure the performance of the greenhouse during 20°winter nights, apply for more external grants and raise seedlings to generate revenue so that the greenhouse can be expanded in the coming years.
What’s Happening Now?
The greenhouse is in the process of being built. There was a bit of a delay because they needed to raise more money. We still in contact with the partners and the architect who helped us with the project. We have also been working on a website for them that will chronicle the building process, give information about the types of vegetables they grow, information on diabetes etc.