The Lemon Tree Trust runs annual home garden competitions in refugee and IDP camps across the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) to increase awareness about the benefits of gardening and to encourage food growing.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic it was not possible to run our garden competitions in the same way as previous years. However, as people self-isolate and stay home, home gardens have become more important than ever. Continuing to support people to grow for food and pleasure while camps are locked down during the outbreak has been a key priority for us.
We launched a ‘virtual’ home garden exhibition in April to recognise and reward the beautiful small spaces being lovingly tended by residents of camps across the KRI. Home gardens have long helped residents stay connected within their communities and keep busy. Gardeners have been invited to share photographs of their plants and home garden spaces via WhatsApp and Facebook groups. Our Lemon Tree Trust garden facilitators in each camp then choose a ‘winner’ each week and we are celebrating them by sharing their photos on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. All our winners this year will receive a lemon tree and all participants will receive packets of food and flower seeds.
“Our guiding principle has always been to encourage home gardening by distributing seeds. It’s a simple, but beautifully effective response to the ever-growing refugee and IDP crisis. As we all adjust to life in lockdown, watching as Covid-19 forces our daily lives to slow and adapt to a new kind of ‘normal’, we are driven more than ever by a desire to spread joy, hope and purpose through the distribution of packets of flower and food seeds. Thank you to everyone who supports our work and joins us in our celebration of gardens and gardening for everyone.” – Stephanie Hunt, Founder and CEO, Lemon Tree Trust.
Competitions took place in a record seven refugee and IDP camps in 2019, with nearly 1,500 gardens in the running for prizes. A combination of cash prizes and gifts of seeds and plants, with certificates for all the winners, were awarded at celebrations in every camp.
The Lemon Tree Trust Founder and CEO, Stephanie Hunt helped judge some of the competitions and said:
“I continue to be inspired by the creativity and ingenuity of people living in situations of forced migration. Their love of plants and gardening and their keen desire to bring beauty to their surroundings is what drives us at the Lemon Tree Trust. I loved visiting some of the winning gardens this year and look forward to watching them continue to grow and flourish over the coming months.”
Running in parallel with our refugee show garden at RHS Chelsea, our 2018 garden competitions welcomed more than 1,000 entrants across five refugee and IDP camps. The consistent annual increase in participation confirmed the interest in gardening in refugee and IDP communities in the region, and further validated our garden competitions as wonderful opportunities to introduce gardening to more communities in the future.
Holding a garden competition in 2016 and 2017 helped to encourage the further development of home gardens and innovative approaches to growing in small spaces. It also enabled us to meet people who were interested in growing and, through conversations and interviews, to discover the significance that gardens held for them.
The 2016 competition had approximately 50 entries and the 2017 competition 138 entries, (87 from men and 52 from women). Cash Prizes (1st $300, 2nd $200, 3rd $100) were offered for the best overall garden with 7 additional categories of $50 prizes for best garden in a small space, using recycled materials, rearing livestock and community gardening among others. Runners up received $20 and all participants were given a lemon tree.
Best Home Garden 2016
Winning Garden 2017
Winning Neighbourhood Garden 2017
Winner Best Innovation Garden 2017
Best Food Garden 2017
Best Ornamental Garden 2017
Help our gardeners to grow at home
The Lemon Tree Trust welcomes one-off and regular donations.
This International Tea Day, our operations manager, Aveen, shares her delicious and refreshing recipe for herbal tea. It blends rose, lemon balm, rosemary, lavender, santolina and mint. Before Covid-19, Aveen and our group of gardeners enjoyed taking tea together in the Azadi Community Garden in Domiz. After a busy session tending to the plants, it … Continued
Mr Fothergill’s and the Lemon Tree Trust are working together to provide 100,000 packets of quality seed to people living in refugee and IDP (internally displaced people) camps in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Mr Fothergill’s is supporting our Emergency ‘Gardener to Gardener’ Seed Appeal with a week-long promotion to its UK customers. For every … Continued
The global spread of Coronavirus Covid-19 means it is not possible to run our garden competitions in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) this spring. However, we will continue to encourage people to sow seeds and enjoy gardening by celebrating refugee and IDP camp home gardens with a ‘virtual’ home garden exhibition this year. Residents … Continued