Nourishing hearts and minds

living heart peru intrepid foundation community projectWhen we eat well, we know that our brain functions better and we can learn more effectively. That’s one of the key reasons behind a wonderful high altitude greenhouse and nutrition program in the Andes, proudly supported by The Intrepid Foundation.

The Peruvian charity Living Heart is supporting remote, impoverished highland communities above the Sacred Valley in Peru. Their challenge is to continue to support over 2,500 vulnerable children and abandoned elderly women and men, to help provide a better quality of life and a brighter future.

To expand the benefits of the program to the whole community and ensure all children have access to nutritious food within the home, Living Heart has started a pilot Educational Greenhouse Project in its most needy community. This involved the construction of a large, greenhouse close to the school, allowing the community to organically cultivate their own fresh vegetables, salad and herbs. The support of The Intrepid Foundation has helped make this project a reality.

To combat frost, poor soil and the effects of high altitude, Living Heart uses a specially-designed thermal mass greenhouse built from local stone and mud. An insulated plastic roof is installed to contain the heat of the sun during the day, and maintain temperatures during the freezing nights.

In February, the Living Heart team, a local school director and the father of one of the disabled children supported by Living Heart, attended a series of agricultural workshops on organic gardening and greenhouses. Empowering locals to manage the greenhouse is integral to the long-term success of the project.

It’s also important that locals then understand how to cook the food grown in the greenhouse to ensure they get the best nutritional value from it. Earlier this year, along with another local NGO, they held a 3-day cooking and nutrition workshop. A nurse gave explanations about health, nutrition, food, medicinal herbs and how to cook vegetables in a way to best retain the nutritional value.

Food from the greenhouse has also been delivered to local schools. Living Heart measured and weighed children at local schools and provided free dentist checks thanks to Peter, a dentist and short-term volunteer from the UK. They started supplementing the children’s diet with the fresh vegetables they harvested from the greenhouse. As well as the nutritional benefits, the greenhouse produce has helped lower food bills for local families, by replacing the vegetables bought at the market.

The best endorsement for the project is that in June Living Heart began construction on a second greenhouse and compost heap in another community. Hopefully this community will enjoy the same nutritional benefits that the first project delivered. Congratulations to everyone at Living Heart and thank you to all The Intrepid Foundation donors who helped make this project a reality.

The Intrepid Foundation – travellers making a difference
Help support Living Heart and other great organisations via the Intrepid Foundation, plus find out how your donation can be matched* by Intrepid Travel!

* Donations will be matched by Intrepid Travel up to AU$5000 (or equivalent) per donor and a total of AU$400,000 each financial year.

Photo: © Living Heart

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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