Green Gown Awards 2020 - The University of Sheffield - Winner

Tags: Green Gown Awards 2020 | Research with Impact Institution | The University of Sheffield

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Desert Garden

There are currently 80,000 people living in Zaatari, the world’s largest Syrian refugee camp and now Jordan’s fourth largest city.  

Scientists at the University of Sheffield are world-leading experts in hydroponics. On discovering a pile of old mattresses in Zaatari, Sheffield scientists set out to see if this material could mimic the high-tech foams they were using in the lab as a synthetic soil to grow food. Soon after, the innovative Desert Garden project began, with both humanitarian and sustainable aims at its core: use waste materials to grow fresh food in the desert for people displaced by war.  

The project is being managed by Dr Moaed Al Meselmani, a Syrian refugee, and a soil scientist at the University of Sheffield. To date, over 650 of Zaatari's refugees have been trained in hydroponics. Within three years, a 'train the trainer' model will mean the camp's desert garden will be self-sustaining. 

Top 3 learnings:

  1. We can end hunger in refugee camps.  
  2. We can create a garden in the most hostile environments. 
  3. This project connects people with home and gives them hope for the future.