The Lemon Tree Trust is available to work in areas of forced displacement in Europe, Africa, Asia and The Middle East. During the past three years we have worked in Kurdistan (Northern Iraq), Uganda, Syria and Jordan. Examples of our projects include:
Domiz Camp, Kurdistan
In 2015 Lemon Tree Trust was invited to explore the potential for greening Domiz camp in order to improve the lives of its residents.
Situated in the north of the region, between Mosul and Dohuk it was opened in 2012 to accommodate approximately 29,800 Syrian refugees. Numbers have fluctuated at around 40,000 since then, and tents have gradually been replaced with portacabins and later breezeblock houses, as Domiz transforms itself from a temporary settlement to an accidental city (Jenner 2009).
The distribution of Lemon Trees
We used the distribution of lemon trees to individual residents as a way to open conversations in the camps about the importance of trees and gardens and the things people wanted to grow. Lemon Trees have a strong resonance in Syrian culture where it is representative of community and home. During 2015 and 2016 we distributed around 2000 tree seedlings, starting with lemons and adding fig, grape, apricot, pomegranate, peach and olive as well as shade trees and flowering bushes.
The Garden Competition and Garden Extension programme
In 2016 we held a garden competition using local facilitators to publicise the idea while distributing trees, and offering prizes for food growing, flower gardens, improved neighbourhoods, community gardens, animal husbandry and water features. The competition provided the incentive for households and groups to develop adjacent available space and use it for cultivation, encouraged neighbours and groups to work together and enabled LTT to learn more about expertise and interest within the camp. This was repeated and expanded in 2017 with over 150 entries.
The development of Nurseries
We were able to support and develop a small, resident owned, nursery distributing vouchers which enabled people to purchase seeds, seedlings and tools. As opportunities for developing gardens expanded the small nursery became a viable business. By the summer of 2017 there were three nurseries in Domiz camp.
Liberation Garden (link to doc)
Interviews with competition entrants in 2016 showed the need for more communal growing and recreational space where skills around gardening under camp conditions, with limited water, the need for grey water recycling, composting and innovative livestock production could be shared. In early 2017 we were given access to a central 600 square meter plot with an existing bore well in an area called Azadi meaning ‘Liberation’.
LTT repaired the bore well and, working with university students and local residents, agreed a design to include spaces for growing, learning and recreation.
The site will serve as an incubator, and test space for the development of social relationships and skills in running a social enterprise. It will also test the viability of food growing in the camp and whether or not this can be self-sustainable.
Crisis Response Gardens (link to page below on this)
In summer 2017 we began the development of a scheme to provide basic seeds and tools for cultivation to those in crisis situations in Syria, in newly liberated parts of Mosul and in recently established camps. Funded through an additional grant materials are being sourced locally and packed in bags (for individual households) in buckets (for 2 households) and in wheelbarrows (for community gardens) by Domiz residents. This has enabled us to create additional employment through the establishment of a small refugee run business in Domiz. Distribution will be handled via a partner NGO.
Drainage and the management of grey water run off is a constant problem in refugee camps where every individual is provided with 20 liters of water a day at household level. A large low-lying strip of land (called Zozan, or ‘Susan’) is subject to much of the camps grey water run off which, if left unused and untreated, could attract disease. We are in discussions with local refugee farmers who may be able to use this strip for large scale cultivation of trees, such as pomegranates, where water could be rerouted for irrigation.
Increasingly we hope to work with our team in Domiz to spread expertise and build capacity in other neighbouring camps. This will form part of our exit strategy as local initiatives are able to become self supporting, generating their own income through entrepreneurship, employment and the development of small businesses.
We are also in discussions with private funders about the provision of an entrepreneurship fund that individuals or groups can apply for, to pump prime new initiatives in this area.