As a harbinger of fate, as a child his favorite color was verde. When he was barely five years old, he asked his mother Aniana to sew him pants, a T-shirt or a vest in that tone. She complied with his wishes, as if she knew that almost three decades later, her son would materialize that tint on a greenhouse at almost 4000 meters high.
Alexander Soriano, mason and farmer, recovers from coronavirus. He finds peace and tranquility in his greenhouse located about 25 kilometers from the city of La Poma, Salta, whose foundations he began to assemble last year and today bears fruit in the form of chard, beets, lettuce and even strawberries.
So far the story seems like one more, but it went to the journalist from El Tribuno, Antony Gaspar, To whom Soriano told him that, according to some engineers, his greenhouse was built at 3,965 meters above sea level. The editor began to investigate and discovered that The tallest greenhouse in the world is located in Nepal. in the Asian mountain range of the Himalayas, and which barely exceeds for 27 meters the work of the salteño.
“I found out about all this from the note: I didn’t know it was the second tallest in the world, otherwise I would have built it a little higher,” Soriano told TN, between laughs, from his house located about two kilometers below, in the Paraje Corral Negro.
Thanks to the newspaper article published at the end of November, many people donated what he needed to buy the seeds. Weeks later, he was able to see the first buds cabbage, broccoli, aubergines, zucchini, watermelons and melons. He also planted tomato seedlings, dwarf chaucha, corn and even a grape plant.
The producer explained that in the Calchaquí Valleys, during most of the year, the harsh frosts freeze all the production and that to cultivate in the open sky, it is necessary to take advantage of the warmth of the summer months (from December to February).
But he dreamed of having a “market on the heights” and built a greenhouse 4 meters wide by 12 long on the side of a mountain. Settled on a stone base, the adobe walls and the plastic that covers the roof blend into the ocher and reddish of the mountain range landscape.
The story of pomegranate
Soriano was born in 1988 and together with his family they were the only inhabitants of the area. He lived there with his grandfather Calixto, her grandmother Trinidad, his mother, his uncle and his brother. “I studied at the Saladillo school that my grandfather built: he was a Flintstones bricklayer and one of the best in La Poma. He taught me everything I know.” he explained.
As a young man he worked as a tractor driver, raised animals, made goat cheese and did “changas” as a bricklayer. “I married my lady Antonella and he was born William, my first child. Those were hard times: we lived from day to day, especially with what the harvest of chickpeas that the only thing that can be cultivated,” he said.
However, he had a big project in mind, but he needed money. Gerardo Laime, a teacher I had at school was my inspiration. He taught us how to make a greenhouse and I loved it”, he explained.
In October of last year, he made up his mind and with the help he received from an Empower Plan and what he got from selling some animals, he bought construction materials. stone by stone, he alone raised the foundations to almost 4000 meters high that would give life to his work.
an uphill road
The greenhouse has 12 beds and is cared for daily by the Pomeño who walks every day two hours walk to go see it. Many times his son accompanies him, who is now 9 years old, and inherited his father’s passion: he helps him water, ventilate, remove aphids and weed (they use natural farmyard fertilizer and ant guano).
The place is only accessible by van or tractor. “You can’t get here by motorcycle or bicycle: you have to walk. To lower the harvest I use my 4 x 4 which are my two mules”, the 33-year-old farmer said.
A few days ago the first vegetables that were consumed by the family were born. In a short time, the producer will become supplier of the school canteen where he attended as a child. “I would love to be able to sell to other places but for that I have to enlarge the construction I have”, he explained.
At sunset, the wind begins to blow and an Andean condor flies over the snowy peaks. Sitting outside his house, Soriano contemplates the landscape and thinks of his father, Agustin Mamami, who taught him how to drive a tractor for the first time and who he lost last week due to Covid. “Farmer for my father and bricklayer thanks to my grandfather”, he said, almost in a whisper.
His family and his work in the fields make him continue and also his dream of building a second winter, even higher. He knows that it is difficult and that to achieve it he needs help. Perhaps that day will come soon when our country surpasses Nepal and a person from Salta manages to erect, in the Calchaquí Valleys, the tallest greenhouse in the world.