La Falda is small city in the province of Córdoba, Argentina, renowned as a tourist attraction and popular getaway spot. Currently, La Falda is undergoing a real estate and development boom and many houses and hotels along the iconic Eden Avenue are being sold to make way for new restaurants, shopping centers, banks and condos.
While walking along Eden Avenue during a trip last fall, Verónica and I noticed an abandoned squash court that has become a popular graffiti spot for local kids, as well as a site to successional vegetation.
The building has no roof, but the rest of its thick-walled structure seems well intact. It also has a north-facing facade, with two large front windows and a sloping roof all set up perfectly to receive year-round sunshine. While the court appears to have been a part of a neighboring hotel recreational complex at one time, the plot on which the court is located is currently up for sale. It also appears that the court has not been maintained by the hotel or municipality.
While exploring the site, we took some photographs and imagined how it could function as a organic produce-producing greenhouse and permacultural learning site for local school children and community members. Using Photoshop, we also put together a visual proposal for how the site could be modified with a minimum of initial capital investment.
In our vision, the site would be used to teach sustainable local-scale agricultural as well as permacultural design concepts to local school children and teachers, who would be directly involved in growing sustainable, organic and pesticide-free produce for their schools. The site could also be used a nursery to cultivate native tree species to assist in regional reforestation efforts.
Considering that La Falda, like many cities in Córdoba’s sierra region, is currently suffering from seasonal droughts, forest fires and other land management problems, we feel that such a community greenhouse and center for ecological investigation would be extremely important for a city that is expanding its consumption bill while at the same time seeing an impoverishment of its natural resources.
Beyond the idea for this community greenhouse, we haven’t put too much thought into possible organization and legal structures that would be needed to get it running. The site on which the building currently sits is currently up for sale and it is most likely that some kind of retail or tourist-related development will result from the sale. In the meantime, we would be happy to expand on the concept and develop a more in-depth proposal in cooperation with local schools and related organizations, and most importantly, the current land owners.