Families in Santa Lucia, Mexico are struggling to cope with hotter summer temperatures, colder winter temperatures, erratic rainfall, and pests, all of which have affected crop production. To address these growing concerns, Peace Corps Mexico has teamed up with local teachers to instruct middle and high school students and the broader community on climate science and how to develop interventions that boost local resilience to the effects of climate change including through the construction of small-scale greenhouses and xeriscaped gardens.
Project leaders conducted workshops on the basics of climate science for three groups of middle school students (ages 12-14) and one group of high school students (ages 17-20). Topics included the greenhouse effect, general impacts of climate change globally, and what can be done locally to help mitigate and adapt to climate change.
Intervention-specific workshops were also conducted for each group explaining the environmental benefits of each intervention and why they are important in the context of climate change. Instruction was also provided on the basic steps of project planning. Students were tasked with submitting a report on their respective intervention.
Hoop gardens are a small-scale and inexpensive type of greenhouse. They use PVC tubing or rods and greenhouse film to cover garden beds. They help protect plants from freezing temperatures, heavy rainfall, and insects. Click here to view a manual (in Spanish) on how to construct hoop gardens.
Xeriscape gardening is a type of landscaping technique suitable for arid climates that uses rocks and plants that require minimal water to survive.
Eco-benches were built using ‘eco-bricks’ that reutilize plastic bottles filled with non-recyclable or non-compostable refuse from homes, schools and public spaces. Instead of using cement to hold the bricks together, a mixture called cob (a combination of soil, sand, and grass) is used. Cement was applied on the outside to create a waterproof layer.
A project planning workshop was held at the end to review what the students learned over the course of the project execution phase and evaluate what was accomplished. Workshops and project activities have been integrated into the school curriculum to ensure the project continues to build capacity for students in the coming years.
- Eco-benches: used plastic bottles, refuse from the students’ houses and the streets, cement, concrete blocks, water, wood that served as a mold for the benches, shovel, trowel and paint
- Hoop gardens: metal rods, hose, rope, greenhouse plastic, seeds, shovel, pick ax, rake
- Xeriscape garden: rock, sand, cactus, cardboard, pick ax, shovel
- Teachers and students built 2 eco-benches, 2 hoop gardens and 1 xeriscape garden on school grounds
- Students built 6 hoop gardens in their respective communities using skills learned during lectures & school projects
Number of youth who participated in lectures on climate change and project planning and implementation:
- 79 girls
- 76 boys
Improved awareness of adaptation interventions and capacity to design and implement community-driven interventions. One group of girls is already planning a reforestation project within their community and students have reported that others within the community have begun to ask questions about their hoop gardens and are interested in building some of their own in their houses. A parent of one of the middle school students approached the project lead to find out where she could purchase the plastic so she could make her own hoop garden at her house.