World Food Day: appeal for crowdfunding to develop bioclimatic greenhouses


Aubagne, 16/10/2014 – Technology transfer from South to North doesn’t happen every day. The bioclimatic greenhouses developed by GERES in Mongolia have proved their efficiency in high-altitude family farming. The technology could be put in place in the PACA region with support from crowdfunding.

Build three earth walls. Place a transparent cover on top to make a roof. Then ‘cook’ the lot, facing due South, at high altitude. Reflected heat will do the rest… Passive (or bioclimatic) solar greenhouses, built with local materials, don’t use any active heating systems. The greenhouse effect and the accumulation/releasing back of the heat by walls made of heavy materials help to maintain a temperature 10 to 15°C higher than the outdoor temperature. When the nights are cold, it won’t freeze.

The history of the passive solar greenhouse goes right back to 2004, starting in Ladakh in the Himalayas. The introduction of these insulated greenhouses in this cold desert of northern India was nothing short of a revolution, in both dietary and economic terms. “Before, nothing grew here in the winter, it’s much too cold”, says Ugyan Phuntsok from Sasoma village, “but now we eat vegetables all year round, even when it’s -30 degrees. Things grow so well that we can even sell some of what we produce!” In four years, GERES has built 540 greenhouses in Ladakh.

The adventure couldn’t possibly stop when it was going so well. In Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and then Mongolia, families were won over by this small-scale technology. Apart from their environmental qualities, passive solar greenhouses help to diversify food production and have a genuine impact on people’s health. To date, 1003 greenhouses have been built with assistance from GERES, including more than 200 in Arkhangaï, Mongolia.

From the Mongolian steppes to the Alpine mountains

Storing the sun’s energy during the day and releasing it back during the night. The principle means a doubling of the growing season (from 4 to 8 months) for Mongolian farmers. This eco-friendly way of supporting vegetable production is also of interest to many French producers.

Stephane Lecler, an organic vegetable grower at the Cataluegue farm in Sainte Maxime in the Var area would like to run a trial on his pilot site. “For me, the attraction of the bioclimatic greenhouse would mainly be the opportunity to produce young seedlings”, the producer explains. “That would enable me to be independent and save on fuel because presently I have to drive 200 km to buy my Stevia seedlings in Aix en Provence” .

A spin-off of the solar greenhouse in France is something many farmers would appreciate. GERES is planning to transfer the technology as part of a pilot project in the PACA region. To cover the estimated €10,000 funding needs, GERES has decided for the first time to launch a crowdfunding appeal on the Kisskissbankbank French platform, beginning the 16th October, World Food Day.

On 25 October, a festive evening organized in Marseille in the Longchamp Park will kick off this campaign under the banner of Climate Solidarity. See you all there.

Press contact
Caroline PIERRET
Tel: + 33 4 42 18 55 88

About the projects and the crowdfunding campaign

In Mongolia

242 greenhouses have been built in three Mongolian provinces since 2010, with the support of local and financial partners. Presently, 332 families have a greenhouse and, as a result, more than 1600 families have access to fresh, high-quality vegetables through gifts from family and friends and sales by market gardeners. In the end, a more diversified diet means better health for the entire population.

However, raising the awareness of the younger generations of these new dietary habits is vital to ensure the sustainability of the project’s impacts within families.
To this end, schools in 11 villages where a greenhouse has been built will receive a visit from an agronomist. Cooking lessons will be offered to 10-year-old pupils. Cooks in the canteens are hoping for training so that they can learn to use new vegetables and diversify the children’s daily meals.

In France

The climate situation in south-eastern France is considerably less harsh than in Mongolia, but sufficiently cold in the winter to make it impossible to use greenhouses without heating systems. Many producers give up trying to produce vegetables and seedlings in winter, because energy costs are prohibitive.

The bioclimatic technology implemented in Mongolia can provide a relevant response to the problems experienced by French farmers. Heated naturally by the sun’s energy, the greenhouses store heat and release it back at night, obviating the need for fossil fuel-based heating. This also enhances the economic and environmental impact.

The objective of this pilot project is to reach out to farmers to determine appropriate methods of implementation for the PACA region and select the project developers. It will identify potential sites, analyse local building techniques, determine what types of materials are available and establish the broad lines of the technical design of the greenhouses.

From crowdfunding to Climate Solidarity

The campaign we are launching on Kisskissbangbang invites you firstly to fund nutritional awareness-raising in Mongolian schools and, secondly, to support sustainable local farming in France through the establishment of a low-carbon technology that has proved its effectiveness in both economic and environmental terms.

This campaign encourages Climate Solidarity because it combines two complementary approaches designed to slow down global warming and encourage sustainable development for all: 1. Reducing our greenhouse gas emissions; 2. Assisting vulnerable communities to achieve low-carbon development.

By supporting our dual project in France and Mongolia, you too can play a part in Climate Solidarity.

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