Lemon Tree Trust’s long-term vision is to bring gardens and gardening initiatives to every refugee camp and community of forced migrants in the world. Creating community gardens is one way we can do this – they offer access to fresh food and boost food security, improve mental and physical health, and offer a safe space to build and grow a community.
Azadi Community Garden, Domiz 1 camp
Since 2016, the Azadi Community Garden (‘azadi’ means ‘liberation’ in Arabic) has been a busy hub of gardening activity, welcoming more than 50 women and their children every day. As well as tending to vegetables and herbs, it is a place to learn new skills and a safe space to meet and socialise.
At our learning hub we teach several techniques used in small-scale food production within a camp environment, in addition to more general gardening and plant care workshops. Specialist techniques include recycling greywater, composting, planting in small spaces, growing under plastic, picking and drying herbs for our Sidra Tea Blend of herbal tea. At the hub we also coordinate our wider seed distributions and garden competitions.
Our gardeners are allocated a raised bed and are welcomed into the garden on a rota basis to regularly tend to their plants. A wider planting scheme is organised by our operations manager Aveen Ibrahim and her team. Families gardening here are able to take as much as they need for their households and neighbours. Any surplusis sorted into smaller parcels before being safely distributed to vulnerable families living in Domiz 1 camp.
Children love to visit the garden and help their parents and grandparents with activities such as feeding our small chicken flock and group of rabbits, which are kept for eggs and meat. A bread oven enables families to make Syrian flatbreads or ‘khubz’ – making bread from scratch is relatively easy and an activity that children traditionally help their mothers with from a young age. Residents can use the oven whenever they want, and always make extra bread to distribute to families in the camp.
About Domiz 1 camp
Domiz 1 is one of the largest camps in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and is home to more than 30,000 refugees, predominantly from Syria.
Community Garden, Bersive 1 camp
An area of green space, created in 2020 at the SEED Foundation community centre in Bersive 1 camp, welcomes women, men and families recovering from trauma to re-connect with nature. Working in partnership with the SEED Foundation and camp residents, our team from Domiz 1 camp renovated the existing play area and created fun novelty planters to encourage children to help tend the garden.
A new trampoline in the play area, plus foam flooring and artificial grass, providing a colourful and safe space for children
Several raised bed planters of varying sizes for adult and children to plant up and tend to
Teacup planters sown with our herbal tea ingredients for gardeners to nurture and use to make a rewarding cup of tea after a gardening session when they socialise with new friends
A whimsical water fountain next to the seating area provides soothing sounds in the garden
Shrubs at the archway entrance to the garden gives visitors a warm welcome
Informal gardening workshops are run for groups of children and adults, where we explain the importance of healthy soil to ensure seeds are given the best start in life and talk through how to nurture plants from seedling to maturity. Individuals are given part of a planter to care for and shown how to plant the seeds and water them in. Adults are given vegetable and herb seeds, whereas children are given cress and other micro salads, which germinate quickly and can be easily harvested, giving the children swift results and satisfaction.
Working with Bersive 1 camp management, we have established our Garden of the Month prize to recognise the efforts residents have made with their own home gardens. Further gardening initiatives, such as our annual gardening competitions, are also being rolled out in the camp during 2021.
About Bersive 1 camp
This camp in the northern reaches of Kurdistan Region of Iraq is home to a mixed community of around 7,800 people from Yazidi and Kurdish cultures. Many of the Yazidis have been forcibly displaced by ISIS from their home of Sinjar (Shingal), in Federal Iraq.
Help our gardeners to grow at home
The Lemon Tree Trust welcomes one-off and regular donations.
We are regularly asked by people around the world about how they can support our activities. We are incredibly grateful for your support! 💚 Here are nine ways you can help spark and change conversations around forcibly displaced people. 1. Make a donation This helps us maintain our existing projects and plan new ones. Regular … Continued
Our team has created an area of green space at the SEED Foundation community centre in Bersive 1 camp in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The centre is where women, men and families recovering from trauma can spend time tending a garden, planting seeds and re-connecting with nature. The SEED Foundation addresses the mental health … Continued
Salih Yosuf, 45, is married with five children and lives in Domiz 2 camp. He shares what gardening means to him and has built an ingenious water feature in his home garden. “I spend most of my time in my garden that I established two years ago. Roses are my favourite plant of all because … Continued