Scientists from the University of Sheffield have been working together with families displaced by war, enabling them to grow their own fresh food without soil in the desert. They have been able to re-use the most unlikely material in the process - discarded mattresses. This project will end soon if we don't act now. Will you help secure the future of the Desert Garden project?
Make a difference today
£10 provides plants and nutrient solution for one family .
£25 buys enough fertiliser to grow 300 kilos of tomatoes.
£100 sets a family up with a full hydroponic system, enabling them to grow plants without using soil.
£500 pays for seeds and fertiliser for 20 families a year.
There are over 80,000 people displaced by war living in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. These refugees are in limbo with no idea when they will be able to move on or go home, as a result of the ongoing Syrian civil war. The salty, infertile soil is unsuitable for growing plants. Hundreds of used foam mattresses are piling up in the camps, unable to be re-used and destined for landfill.
Scientists at the University of Sheffield are experts in hydroponics, a method of growing plants without using soil. Recognising a similarity between the high-tech polyurethane foam they use in their lab in Sheffield and Zaatari's discarded mattress foam, they have found an innovative way of enabling the refugees to grow their own fresh food in the camp. To date, over 650 refugees have received the training and materials they need to grow food in this way. Together, they have grown over 100,000 plants and are sharing their knowledge with others in their community. 3,000 more refugees will receive training over the next three years, making the Desert Garden project self-sustaining.
By growing fresh herbs, fruit and salad vegetables, the refugees are surrounded by an array of colours and now have access to fresh produce, which they can use in important cultural cooking traditions. Mattresses are being re-used instead of going to landfill, reducing waste. The farmers are able to use their valuable skills, passing these on to other refugees and providing Sheffield scientists with new discoveries. Refugees who are taught these skills are starting to gain a sense of purpose, exhibiting an increase in their mental health and well-being. As a result, a feeling of empowerment is starting to spread throughout the whole community.
To find out more information visit www.sheffield.ac.uk/desert-garden