New community garden created in partnership with SEED Foundation

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 and trauma crisis among IDP (internally displaced people) women, men and children in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Their mission is well-aligned with our work of empowering women and improving mental health through access to gardening initiatives.

The project was possible thanks to a grant from the Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust, as well as the support of the SEED Foundation and Bersive 1 residents.

The play area in Bersive 1 camp before it was transformed.
The play area and new community garden in Bersive 1 camp after work was undertaken.

Getting started

We kicked off the project by asking people using the SEED Foundation centre about their gardening experience, their favourite plants and flowers, and what they would like to see in the garden. All wanted a mixture of food and flowers to be included the garden and the majority wanted the play area to be repaired.

Collage of photographs - Bersive 1 camp. KRI: people sat in a socially distanced circle, gardeners building the new garden, adding soil to the new raised planters.

Breaking ground

We made several visits to the centre to prepare the garden and repair the playground and created fun novelty planters to encourage children to help tend the garden.

Changes made included:

  • Repositioning the slide on the climbing frame to give children more room to play, as well as repairing and repainting these
  • Adding a trampoline to the playground, plus foam flooring and artificial grass to provide a colourful and safe playing area for children
  • Building a number of raised bed planters and filled with compost ready for use, and planting our herbal tea ingredients in the teacups
  • Preparing the ground for tree planting along the fence and planting an archway at the entrance to welcome visitors
  • Installing a whimsical water fountain next to the seating area to provide soothing sounds in the garden
Collage of photographs in Bersive 1 camp, KRI: unloading planting from a vehicle, teacup shaped planters, using a wheelbarrow to move soil.
Aerial photograph of the completed community garden at play area at the SEED Community Centre, Bersive 1 camp, Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

Seed sowing sessions

Children’s seed sowing: We ran group seed planting sessions for boys and girls using the centre. They were each given part of a planter to care for and shown how to plant the seeds and water them in. Beginning with cress and other micro salads, which germinate quickly and can be easily harvested, gives the children swift results and satisfaction.

Women’s seed sowing: Seed sowing sessions have also taken place for groups of women who are tending the raised beds. Each person has been allocated a section of a bed and radish, parsley, rocket, broad beans and spring onion seeds have been planted.

The gardeners enjoy visiting their beds regularly to water and tend to the plants. We will organise further gardening sessions as the growing season progresses.

Garden of the Month prize

Through this project, we have been able to introduce further gardening initiatives for the wider camp population, which is a mixed community of Yazidi and Muslim faiths. Since September 2020, we have awarded the Garden of the Month prize to a gardener in Bersive 1 camp – this camp joins the six other camps in which we award a monthly prize.

Next steps

We will continue to provide gardening support and instruction for the community in Bersive 1 camp and to oversee the maintenance of the garden. In addition, further LTT activities are being introduced to the wider camp community, including our Garden of the Month initiative, which started in September, and our annual garden competitions planned for spring 2021.


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