External website: The Lemon Tree Trust
Green innovation and urban agriculture, Domiz refugee camp, Iraq.
The Lemon Tree Trust we aim to draw upon our understanding of how small scale, intensive food growing, or ‘urban agriculture’ can promote food sovereignty, accelerate innovation, and bring dignity to the lives of refugees. Increasingly the potential of vegetable gardening and other forms of agricultural production (e.g., eggs, mushrooms, medicinal herbs, aquaponics etc.) is being recognized in protracted refugee situations, in addition to the need for higher calorie intake (The Sphere Project 2011). Furthermore, becoming involved in creative and productive activities helps people regain dignity, hope and self-respect, enhancing overall wellbeing. Therefore, we aim to use home or community gardening activities to help increase self-reliance, allowing people to grow their preferred crops and varieties, and improve their skills and knowledge. Additionally, this may reduce operational costs for humanitarian agencies and potentially contributing to restoring the social fabric of disaster-affected communities.
Urban agriculture can play multiple roles in different phases of the disaster management cycle. In the pre-disaster phase, urban agriculture can, for example, be used as a land management tool in disaster risk reduction programmes, while in the post-disaster phase the aim of urban agriculture can be the swift re-establishment of primary food production systems that are more resilient than previous agricultural practices. Instructions for developing and protecting primary food production are given in a number of guidelines, which also contain planning and design recommendations for allocating small plots of land for use as kitchen gardens.
Urban agriculture has always been used as a food security strategy during economic and emergency situations. For example, ‘Operation Feed Yourself’ in Ghana during the 1970s and more recently in Cuba during the 1990s. Similarly, in many other countries, backyard farming, and institutional and school gardening have all been encouraged during times of food instability. Urban agriculture, with its emphasis on space-confined technologies, use of composted organic waste and recycling of greywater, offers good options for the provision of fresh vegetables, eggs, dairy products and other perishables to the population of these rapidly emerging settlements, in addition to generating some income, and bring other social and therapeutic benefits. Growing nutritious crops requires little investments and can be done on even the smallest plots of land with even limited growing periods; it also can draw from traditional knowledge, skills and local resources and seeds, and also provides an opportunity to recover and reuse organic solid wastes and wastewater.
The Lemon Tree Trust project is facilitated in Iraq and Jordan by Dr. Andrew Adam-Bradford, an Environmental Geographer and by Dr. Mikey Tomkins, Artist and Urban Food Specialist.