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 provide 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, Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI)

Photo collage of gardeners tending to the Axadi Community Garden, Domiz 1 camp, Kurdistan Region of Iraq

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 surplus is 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. Learn more about our bread making activities over at Real Bread Campaign.

In 2023, we extended Azadi, doubling the number of raised beds from 50 to 100, ensuring that many more vulnerable families living in Domiz 1 have access to fresh food. As well as boosting food security, the increase in gardening provision will help to improve people’s physical and mental health.

About Domiz 1 camp

Domiz 1 is one of the largest camps in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and is home to more than 28,000 refugees, predominantly from Syria. Learn more about daily life in Domiz 1 camp.

Bardarash Community Garden, KRI

In 2022, we celebrated the completion of our new community garden at the SEED Foundation Trauma Centre in Bardarash camp. The community garden is a space for SEED centre clients and Bardarash residents to enjoy every day.

The garden was designed by our Landscape & Horticulture Consultant, Hamid Abdullah, who also project managed a talented team of local tradespeople on the build.

The SEED Foundation in Kurdistan does important work helping people to heal from trauma, cope with displacement, and start to rebuild their future. The organisation provides a range of mental health and psychosocial support services, and takes a holistic care approach – gardening and being in nature can play a significant role in the healing process.

About Bardarash camp

Bardarash camp is a refugee camp in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Around 6,500 people and 2,000 families live in Bardarash, who are predominantly from the Syrian cities of Al-Hasakeh and Aleppo.

Ridgecrest Community Garden, Vickery Meadow, Dallas, Texas, USA 

Since 2016, we have supported a group of passionate and skilled gardeners at the Ridgecrest Community Garden located in Vickery Meadow, Dallas. Established by the Vickery Meadow community in 2010, this thriving garden is situated in an under-resourced neighbourhood in central Dallas which is home to a significant proportion of the city’s resettled refugee population. The gardeners, all US citizens now but originally from Bhutan, Burma, South Sudan and other countries, grow native plants from their beloved homes, along with classic Dallas favourites. Most use the produce in their home kitchens and a few sell their surplus to neighbours and friends.

With help from our resident gardeners, we have added several landscaping features, including the addition of trellises to the 50 beds in 2019 to aid vertical planting.

The Vickery Meadow Community Garden physically nourishes the neighbourhood but sustains its spirit as well. The gardeners use the familiar practice of gardening to build connections and put down ‘roots’ in their adopted country.

Make a donation to Lemon Tree Trust

The Lemon Tree Trust welcomes one-off and regular donations.

Our core infrastructure costs are fully funded so 100% of your donation directly supports gardening projects and initiatives in refugee communities.

How your donation makes a difference

  • £10 / $12 could provide refreshments at a community garden helping people socialise and spend time gardening
  • £30 / $37 could help provide prizes for refugees and internally displaced people taking part in our garden and cooking competitions
  • £50 / $61 could help provide topsoil and compost in our community gardens enabling people to grow what they need
  • £100 / $122 could help provide an LTT Camp Co-ordinator to help with distributing seeds, plants and trees to displaced people
  • £1,000 / $1,219 could help create a new garden providing an area of green space where community members recovering from trauma can spend time tending a garden, planting seeds and re-connecting with nature
  • £50,000 / $61,780 could help us set up a new community garden for people in need in a camp and help with on-going staffing and running costs
 

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 ways of reusing and recycling materials in garden design. … 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