We first heard about hydroponics as a solution for growing food in the Atacama Desert, the most arid desert in the world, when we left Vallenar. Hydroponics is a technique for growing crops without soil, on an inert mineral or vegetable substrate, irrigated with a nutrient-containing preparation. Our host Omar Turres, while showing us around his experimental hydroponic farm (see the report "Chile after the COP"), told us about this cooperative that produces vegetables and fruit above ground using desalinated water, on the outskirts of Antofagasta.
We went there on a Saturday morning and as luck would have it, it was precisely on weekend mornings that the cooperative of the Agricultural Association of Altos La Portada (AGRALPA) sells its produce to customers on site. In addition to taking photos, we were able to visit two of the structures, once with Walker, a Bolivian agricultural technician, and once with Dolores Jiménez, president of the cooperative, who answered our questions and allowed us to sleep in the association's meeting room. The next day we went to Mejillones, about 40 km away, to document another so-called "sacrificed" area (see again the report "Chile after the COP"), before returning the following day to photograph the desalination plant in the city of Antofagasta that supplies water to this hydroponic project.