For more than seven years, Lusine Mkhitaryan, 40, and her husband Lego, 44, have lived and raised their family in Burastan – one of the villages of the Ararat Region.

A low income and no sustainable job had long become a source of anxiety for the couple, especially with their eldest child Julieta, 18, who has vision problems, for which she receives a meager $33 illness benefit from the state – not enough to cover the cost of her medications or doctor visits. Julieta and her four siblings – Laura, 17, Ashkhen, 16, Saro, 14, Samvel, 5, attend the village school.

For many years, the family’s modest income was comprised of a state benefit – $86 (42,000 AMD) and some supplementary and seasonal income that they managed to earn from the greens grown on the small lot of land in front of their house.

In 2015, FAR’s “Child Poverty Reduction Program” provided the family with necessary materials and facilities to build a greenhouse. A shrewd farmer and constructor, Lego quickly built the greenhouse of about 330 square feet. “Agriculture and animal husbandry are the only sources of living in these rural areas,” says Lego. “We dreamt of having a greenhouse so we could have a year-round harvest, allowing us to save up for the welfare of our children. Now, FAR has enabled our family to thrive.”

In the two years since building the greenhouse, Lusine and her husband have been cultivating traditional crops such as tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, and peppers. To effectively manage the greenhouse, they grow the crops in rotation – first vegetables, and then greens. “Now we are seeing the results of our hard work. According to recent estimates, we regularly earn more than $240 per harvest season, which was rarely achievable before the greenhouse,”- says Lusine.

Now that the increased crop amount calls for more hands-on work than their old patch of land, cultivation and gathering has becoming a whole family affair. Lusine says that her children are thrilled to help in the greenhouse and spend time with the soil. They especially enjoy discovering the many new types of crops that the family now grows in the greenhouse.

*The Child Poverty Reduction Program in Ararat Region is a FAR project sponsored by the Sarkessian Family Foundation.