Refugee camps can be places with a severe nature deficit. For a start, people have often fled to marginal land, arid and ignored places that are out of harm’s way. Once there, trees are quickly cut down for fuel, and land is polluted as rubbish accumulates with no facilities for dealing with it. The destruction of the environment compounds the human tragedy, the displaced living in the de-placed.
The Lemon Tree Trust works to green refugee camps with and for the community. They organise demonstration gardens, run garden competitions, and provide seeds and tools. Their urban agriculture projects supply food and job opportunities, and restore dignity and empowerment. A good number of refugees are farmers or have experience in growing, and it just needs a little support to get those skills back into use.
There is a therapeutic side to this as well. Gardening is proven to reduce stress. It gives households a bit of land to call their own, and there’s no shortage of demand. Their latest garden competition in Iraq had over 150 entries. Special prizes in different categories, such as ornamental gardens or use of recycled materials, encourage people to be creative.
In all their work, the trust works alongside the communities they serve. That comes across well on the Trust’s website, which is full of photos of ordinary people in their gardens and you should go and check it out. Here is a video that was filmed by a refugee film-maker in Iraq:
The Lemon Tree Trust is one of those unusual charities whose core costs are covered by private funding, so that 100% of donations go to projects.
- HT Dave Callaghan on the Make Wealth History facebook page.