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.

Ahmed Tamo, Domiz 1 camp, Kurdistan Region of Iraq

“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 vision 

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:

  1. Improving mental health and wellbeing
  2. Community building and women’s empowerment
  3. Improving local environments
  4. 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.  

Map showing the refugee and IDP camps in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq where the Lemon Tree Trust works

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.

Find out more – read our Frequently Asked Questions.

Our impact

Read our Impact Reports:

Follow our latest progress on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

In the news

The Lemon Tree Trust’s work and refugee gardener stories feature in…  

2022

2021

2020

2019

2018

Research papers and articles

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.

Books

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

 

RHS Chelsea Repurposed designed by Darryl Moore of Cityscapes We are thrilled that elements from our 2018 RHS Chelsea show garden are being used in the new ‘repurposed’ feature garden at this year’s flower show. RHS Chelsea Repurposed will bring together elements from several show gardens dating back as far as 2010 to highlight creative … Continued

Thank you to illustrator Linda Combi for supporting Lemon Tree Trust again in 2024. Earlier this year, Linda held an exhibition, ‘52 Postcards on the theme of Oasis’, at the Pyramid Gallery in York, UK. Proceeds from gallery and online sales during this time have been divided between Lemon Tree Trust and the UNHCR. Featured … Continued

Meet Othman Qewas: Lemon Tree Trust’s valued team member and Gawilan camp resident Our gardening activities in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq are run for and by local displaced people – with Othman Qewas, our Garden Coordinator in Gawilan camp * – being one such person.  Othman is a valued member of the Lemon Tree … Continued