Patagonia Greenhouse Building College

Patagonia Greenhouse Building College

ranquilco 0055Estancia Ranquilco, deep in the cordillera of the Argentine Patagonia, offers a four year course in building a rustic, elegant and organic greenhouse. Various phases of construction will have offers of shorter specific duration, as detailed below, so enrollment is not restricted to the entire course and can be as short as one month. The four year course runs for four months each year, November 15th through March, with two semesters of 8-9 weeks each year.

Participants will be housed in a community stone building, streamside, a twenty minute hike or ride to the building site. Instruction will be provided by masters in the various phases during the eight daily work hours, five days a week. 

The greenhouse is approximately 2,700 square feet of space to include an asado/party pit, office, apartment, kitchen, bathroom, carriage house/tool shed, ample space for plantings (vegetable and fruit), and includes an outdoor hot tub with swimming lane into the building (already in place and usable). It is situated back into a hill with orientation to the North for maximum solar gain and looks out across a lake at a faraway mountain range. Owner’s small house is next door.

Year One courses;

re-roofing and cement flooring the Casa Estudiante,

tree falling and skidding (mostly with draft horse power),

adobe making,

building a gazebo over the hot tub,

laying out the greenhouse,

using the sawmill to provide lumber,

constructing the West pavilion asado pit and gathering place, plus cutting and filling the site.

Year Two courses;

 sawmill utilization for additional building material,

more draft horse work,

foundation pouring,

erection of posts and beams,

fireplace and chimney building,

tile work on the swimming pool,

and more prep for construction.

Year Three courses;

roofing and in fill (adobe and brick),

floor and garden prep,

door and window building,

basic radiant floor installation,

plumbing and electrical.

Kitchen, bathroom, office and apartment roughing in.

Year Four;

finalization to include plastering, painting,

and everything else not completed –

landscaping and garden planting.

Students should come prepared for hard and interesting work during all phases. Flexibility is the norm at Ranquilco due to weather changes, tractor, horse and material availability, so other than the work hours there is no set daily schedule.

Instruction will be provided by the Master builder plus Second Instructor, who will coordinate all four years, plus local builders for specific tasks. English will be the main language though the locals generally speak only Spanish – some translation available.

The general atmosphere at Ranquilco is one of super friendly and fun work and play environment. Participants are expected to keep their space clean and professionally organized, to help with the cooking and cleaning, to be cheerful and community minded. As well they are invited to be part of traditional estancia happenings to include asados at the Casa grande, volleyball, and riverside sauna. Horse use is available both for commuting to the work site and for recreation at additional prices. The lands are open for recreation to include hiking, camping and some fishing. The large lake at the building site is available for swimming, rowing, and fishing. Each year there will be a two week vacation between semesters.

The costs; Four year course – $25,000, any one year course – $7,750, any one semester $4,500,  one month look/see/help out – $100/day (30 day minimum). Fees paid include all room and board.

Horse and saddle provided for commute – $15/day additional cost – (pasture grazed adjacent to Casa Estudiante). Riding lessons $25/hour. Solo or group riding $10/hour. Students will have to prove reliability via lessons before being permitted to ride solo or in groups.

Casa Estudiante is a stone structure with four bedrooms and a central kitchen and dining room. It is streamside some 20 minutes from the work site and 10 minutes from Ranquilco Headquarters, and Casa Grande. It is very rustic with dirt floors (which may be upgraded to cement). There is an adjacent bathroom, also rustic, and an outdoor outhouse. Housing will be two to a room. Bed and mattress provided, students to bring sleeping bag and towel. If solo space is desired we are open to providing room at HQ for an additional price.

There is no electricity at Casa Estudiante. Charging is available at Casa Grande, where we have a hydro turbine. There is satellite internet at HQ and each student can sign up for one hour use per week. Generally speaking, presence at the HQ is by invitation. We ask our students to respect the privacy of our family and guests, plus the other volunteers there. This still leaves 99,990 acres for exploration etc.

Ranquilco has not only a volunteer program at HQ, but also a guest situation, hosting clients from around the world. Students are invited to offer to family and friends a 30% discount on the guest pricing, depending on availability.

Food to include organic world best meat; beef, goat primarily, plus any garden produce available (small garden to be planted at worksite). Cooking and cleaning will be on a rotational basis. Responsible students may bring in beer and wine for special occasions. Drug or alcohol abuse will not be tolerated, nor will abusive behavior. From time to time students will be invited to Casa Grande for party time – asados, dances and movies with guest and volunteer interactions.

Students to bring; sleeping bag & towel, good sun hat, work gloves, plus basic tool kit to include; hammer, saw, tape measure, square, carpentry pencils, chisel, wood rasp, eye & ear protection.

The instructors:

instructor-ranquilcoJames Herbert: Colorado born and raised, I grew up exploring the Rocky Mountains. Vast landscapes and cold, clear water have always captivated me; which is what brought me to Estancia Ranquilco. The people, community and the magic which resides here are what brings me back. I am an established tradesman with a wide skill set that includes carpentry, mechanics, plumbing, electrical, masonry, and metal fabrication/welding. An experienced outdoorsman that has spent time as a fly fishing guide in Rocky Mountain national park, learned the beauty of the world camping and fishing with my great grandfather, grandpa and father. I am an artist at heart, and bring that passion and creativity to work with me. I am fun to work with and enjoy sharing my knowledge and teaching others. There is a reason Ranquilco is said to be the best place on earth- it is….

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