Gardening has the power to positively address issues of isolation and mental health.
For displaced people globally, the simple act of gardening produces beauty, restores dignity, creates community and offers opportunity.
Transforming refugee camps and communities, one garden at a time
Since 2015, the Lemon Tree Trust has supported refugees and communities of forced migrants, to create home and community gardens, garden competitions and education projects.
Working with like-minded organisations and partners, we empower people from the ground up to improve their wellbeing and their environment, with a particular focus on women coming together as a community to affect change.
“I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard I could have a garden here… We’ve all been displaced and are suddenly living in a desert without trees… I see life in this garden. It cleans the air and gives people hope.”
– Ahmed Tamo, Domiz 1 camp, Kurdistan Region of Iraq
Our long-term vision is to bring gardens and gardening initiatives to every refugee camp and community of forced migrants in the world.
Our activities are focused on four main impact areas:
Improving mental health and wellbeing
Community building and women’s empowerment
Improving local environments
Independent access to fresh food
We do this by supporting people to build home gardens, supporting communities to build community gardens (both ornamental and productive) and supporting women-led agriculture and horticulture initiatives and small businesses.
“For the people we work with in refugee communities, gardens are an essential part of their lives. They bring beauty, restore dignity and reignite hope in the future. But importantly, we know that gardens offer an incredible opportunity for profitable enterprise and we are committed, personally and professionally, to helping drive a new refugee economy through horticulture.”
– Stephanie Hunt, Founder & CEO, Lemon Tree Trust
Where we work
Since 2015 most of our work has been in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The Azadi Community Garden in Domiz 1 camp was established in 2016 and since then, we have continued to roll out gardening activities to more refugee and IDP camps across the region – as interest and popularity has grown in our garden competitions.
While our efforts are largely focused in Kurdistan, we continue to partner with organisations in other countries.
Our long-term vision is to expose every refugee camp in the world to garden competitions and gardening initiatives and to encourage self-sustaining ventures run by and for refugees.
These articles, some of which reference the Lemon Tree Trust, are written by academic researchers working in the area of urban agriculture and life sciences. This content covers several interdisciplinary topics, including forced migration and the creation of ‘accidental cities’, food and water systems/security, greening innovation, agroforestry, biodiversity, and sustainability.
International Handbook of Occupational Therapy Interventions: Tania Wiseman and Gaynor Sadlo report the many physical benefits of outdoor exercise, the community benefits of doing things together, the importance of green spaces in reducing stress and increasing resilience, and the value of activity and occupational therapy in trauma recovery.
The Well-Gardened Mind: The Restorative Power of Nature: Psychiatrist and psychotherapist, Sue Stuart-Smith shares how being in nature can radically transform our health, wellbeing and confidence. She presents scientific findings, insights and stories from asylum seekers, veterans, inner-city young people
We’ve made it easier to spread the joy of gardening this Christmas. When you make a donation to Lemon Tree Trust on behalf of someone special, you can send them our new downloadable design, accompanied by your own personalised message. How it works STEP 1: First, make a donation to Lemon Tree Trust via JustGiving … Continued
Our cooking competitions returned this year with 450 talented cooks whipping up mouth-watering meals in their home kitchens across the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The competitions showcased all the delicious produce being grown in home and community gardens and the many nutritious dishes that can be made when combined with ingredients sourced locally. Despite limited … Continued
To celebrate the completion of the extension to the Azadi Community Garden in Domiz 1 camp, and to officially open the space, we organised a small opening ceremony and party. All our new gardeners, who have been given a new raised bed in the extended area, were invited to join our celebration, along with our … Continued