Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How do I know that gardens make a significant difference to refugee populations?

    Research and evaluation of our work have shown the importance of having both the space a garden offers to sit and think or to relax in nature, and the meaningful activity and normalcy that gardening provides.

  2. What evidence is there that gardening improves mental health and well being?

    The importance of gardening as a mental health activity is well documented by Wiseman, T., & Sadlo, G. (2015) in the chapter Gardening: An Occupation for Recovery and Wellness, in the book International Handbook of Occupational Therapy Interventions (pp. 797-809), Springer International Publishing. These include the 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.

  3. How much water is needed to cultivate a home garden?

    Each refugee family will be given at least 100 litres of water a day. Much of this will be used for washing and cleaning, generating wastewater run off or greywater. If this can be harvested successfully it will be sufficient to irrigate a small garden and reduce the wastewater that has to be transported away from the camp.

  4. What is Greening Innovation?

    Greening Innovation is the term we have used to describe a holistic approach to disaster risk, land and watershed management, linking relief, recovery and development through the planting of trees and gardens and the support of small agro-businesses. It involves work on integrated watershed management (IWM), linking relief, recovery and development (LRRD), disaster risk reduction (DRR), resource recovery and reuse (RRR) and sustainable livelihoods.

  5. How far are these activities of urban agriculture and greening innovation becoming mainstream?

    Aid agencies and humanitarian relief organisations are moving towards a recognition that crises tend to be protracted and life-saving responses need to take into account the quality of life that they are able to offer. While Lemon Tree Trust is one of the first organisations to advocate for the importance of urban agriculture in refugee camps and the significance of home gardens, other large organisations are beginning to experiment with permaculture and the introduction of poly tunnels. UN agencies, research institutes and NGOs have developed several guidelines on integrating natural, resources based sustainable livelihoods and small-scale primary food production systems into the planning and design of refugee camps.

  6. What are refugees paid for working in Lemon Tree Trust activities?

    The amount refugees are able to be paid is internationally regulated on a ‘cash for work’ basis. In Iraq, the Cash-Working-Group has identified this amount as $20 a day.

  7. What do people grow? Food, trees or flowers?

    What people grow is influenced by culture, environment and plant and seed availability. In our last garden competition in Iraq of nearly 150 entries only 6 grew entirely vegetables, and 7 entirely flowers. Most people grew a mixture of trees, flowers, herbs and vegetables, but out of all the entries, only 27 did not include flowers. Syrians in particular, they tell us, love flowers.

  8. Why run a garden competition?

    Running a garden competition can quickly identify the level of expertise, potential demonstration sites, and trainers and future pathway leaders. It also helps create public awareness of the benefits of gardening.

  9. Are gardeners mainly men or women?

    While farmers and those interested in large-scale commercial growing are mainly male, there are almost equal numbers of men and women developing home gardens. In many families, it is a joint activity, with partners, siblings and children all contributing.

  10. What are ‘ornamental gardens’?

    In the garden competition in Domiz Camp, we offered a prize for ornamental gardens as so many gardens contained fountains, water features, or other entirely decorative features. We also offered prizes for creative use of recycled materials.

  11. What is the importance of crisis response garden kits?

    While it is too early to have a systematic review we do know that refugees often take livestock and seeds with them when they are forced to move. In a new environment what is generally missing is the basic tools to break the soil and to plant and water these. We are collecting feedback on the use of crisis response kits and know that from those distributed in September, gardens have already been planted. These have gone to individual families in Syria and to three school groups. We will do a proper evaluation as more kits are distributed and used.

  12. How much of my donation will go to people in need?

    Currently, our infrastructure costs are covered by our core funder which means that 100% of donations go directly to benefiting people in camps. Online donations are tied to specific items that can be purchased in Domiz Camp, benefiting both the refugee seller and the family receiving the items.


The team behind FlORXLzine – Carmen Sheridan, Hannah Jones and Emma Brown – have raised £1000 for the Lemon Tree Trust through sales of the print publication. The first issue of the zine was launched in November 2021 to celebrate plants, gardens and horticulture and the team have gone on to publish two more. They … Continued

Thank you to Rachael Jefferies for inviting us on to the Centre for Minorities Research Podcast to talk about our work. The Centre for Minorities Research is based at the University of St Andrews, St Andrews in Scotland, UK. And the centre’s student-led podcast provides a space for students to creatively explore their research interests. … Continued

Our community garden at the SEED Foundation trauma centre in Bardarash camp is finished! And the garden is already being used. Isn’t it wonderful to see the children singing? It is literally music to our ears. The community garden is a space for SEED centre clients and Bardarash residents to enjoy every day. The garden … Continued