For a family that has an interest in growing things a polytunnel greenhouse can really extend the growing season and for families who develop these skills then there is the very real potential to grow produce for the local markets.
A polytunnel measuring 35 meters * 6 meters costs around 750 Euros to build and we have put together 15 of them.
Once a family is selected for this program we enter into a simple form of contract whereby the polytunnel remains ours but the family has the free use of the tunnel for as long as they keep it in production.
We have two local men on team, who have lived in the community for many years, who are recognised locally as skilled in this area of work. They are available daily to give training to people in the program and give input and guidance on timing of crop rotations, dealing with diseases and pests affecting the plants.
Early in the year whilst it is still cold we encourage families to build seed beds. Using fresh manure that generates heat as it rots, to provide the right temperature for germination in time for early planting as soon as the weather permits.
In the Romanian climate it is possible to grow 4 rotations of crop without providing any heating.
The winter crops are now out of the ground and the spring planting began early.
Tomatoes have done well under cover despite the fact that temperature outside continued to drop to around zero at night for longer than we all expected.
Drip irrigation is cheap to install and has really simplified the process with water going directly to the plants and not helping the weeds grow between the rows.
This year we are also experimenting with ground sheeting to keep more of the moisture in the soil, increase the ground temperature and help keep weeds to a minimum.