Photo: Tenzing follows in his father Brot’s footsteps.

Brot Coburn Stays Connected through a Community Greenhouse

An old friend and advisor to CGCT, Brot Coburn worked with Dr. Chandra as a close counterpart on the design of the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) in Nepal in the late 1980s. Recently, Brot has been assisting his adopted Nepali son, Tenzing – from afar for the moment — on the design of a community greenhouse at Serang Gompa near the around-Manaslu trek route in Nepal.

Serang (Sangchhen Rabten Norbuling) Monastery and an associated small nunnery are located in an isolated valley of Nubri known as Kyimolung or “Valley of Happiness.”  Tenzing was born in the nearby Nubri village of Lho, though he mainly grew up in the state of Wyoming. From yak country to cow country!

For the fall and winter of 2021-22, Tenzing has returned to the area to teach and tutor at Serang’s new secular primary school, and to apply his experience in construction. The first task: to design and build a greenhouse that will produce vegetables year-round for the 150-plus monks, nuns and the students of the school. Construction will begin in full swing by mid-December.

The greenhouse will be fabricated with a combination of local and modern materials. The north wall, made of stacked stone, will be insulated to help retain heat, with water barrels and flagstones for thermal storage.

One of the nuns has volunteered to be the gardener-caretaker for the greenhouse. A second similar structure is planned for the community, and these will hopefully act as models for greenhouse projects elsewhere in the Nubri valley.

The overall project cost is $8,000. Donors from Switzerland have pledged $5,000, CGCT has donated $500, and the remaining $2,500 is being sought in Wyoming. This is the kind of project that CGCT is able to support only with your help.

Brot Coburn has remained connected to Nepal and the Annapurna range for five decades, since his tour with the Peace Corps in 1973. In recent years he has guided Colorado College students alternately to the Manaslu, Annapurna and Everest regions. In late spring 2022, the students intend to visit the greenhouse project in Nubri.

Brot often recalls Dr. Chandra and their early days together in Nepal. “When we toured the greater Annapurna region in 1988,” he said, “I was instantly impressed by Chandra’s keen intellect and his ability to connect with people of all ethnic groups, drawing them into discussions that we convened enroute. His warm, respectful approach to complex local issues, and deftness at accommodating the interests of multiple stakeholders, set the tone for the approach that ACAP adopted over the following decades.”

Brot hopes that with community involvement and a conservation spirit — the principles that he, Dr. Chandra, and Mingma Norbu Sherpa conceived and designed for ACAP — will continue to serve Nepal’s high Himalayan valleys during these and challenging times to come. In fact, Nubri and the valley of Kyimolung, along with the valley of Tsum, comprise the heart of the newer Manaslu Conservation Area Project (MCAP), which was modeled after ACAP and is also overseen by the National Trust for Nature Conservation.