Meet Naema, a Local Student of the Green the Desert Project

Meet Naema, a Local Student of the Green the Desert Project

January 14, 2020 24 By William Morgan


Hi, Geoff Lawton here. Well I’m here at Naema’s
garden in Joefa, Jordan. Well I’m actually in Kafrai near Joefa. I’ve got the students here
from the internship, here. The one month internship. And we’ve got a guided tour going on by the lady herself out
there in the garden. And we’re going to join in and listen to what’s being said. So, this is Yaman, our translator. Our local permaculture architect. Well experienced around the
world with permaculture, and I’ve got Naema, the lady herself. I’m going to ask a few questions, she’s a bit shy, but
she’s going to tell us what she knows about this beautiful event. So, how long have you had this garden? [Geoff] How much have you produced, enough to feed your
family and sell produce? She has a self-resiliency here, and a surplus of the yield
that gets sold all the time. [Geoff] So could she just give us, I know there’s a lot
here, but what exactly is she producing, can
she give us a full list? Eggplants, tomato, chili, capsicum, onions, spinach, two kinds of it, zucchini. Most of veggies are grown on this land. [Geoff] And I see a lot of oregano. Mint, sage. Cucumber and potato as well. [Geoff] And you’ve got which is Egyptian spinach, a lot of people might not know that one,
you’ve got Brazil spinach, the perennial Alternanthera sissoo, and you’ve got this beautiful climber, and that’s the ceylon spinach. So they grow all through summer? And they’re an edible vine, too. Yes, yeah. Yes, all through the year. [Geoff] And you normally
have a cover over, is that only in summer? You have wicking beds at the end, you have eight little wicking beds, they’re even better in summer
with the water underneath? And she’s putting wicking
beds in the schools. So this was solid rock, and
now we’ve got production, so that’s obviously
surprised a few people. That’s the starting point over there, that’s what it looked like. So, most of this is from
fertilizer from the chickens, yeah? You have enough food to eat, and you have some to sell, and you’ve got eggs as well, and every now and again, extra chickens. And the chickens’ food’s
subsidized quite a lot with the compost, you don’t
have to feed ’em so much. I know the viewers are really interested to see the school gardens
she’s been helping with and producing, so hopefully, she can show us a school garden soon, and we can make another film. Would that be all right,
she’ll be pleased about that? Yes, for sure, she’d be happy to. [Geoff] All right, thanks. All right, cheers, guys. So we’re here at one of the local schools, where Naema is working on school gardens. It’s just small projects,
little by little. Let’s have a look over this way. You’ll see, they’re just about to leave for their lunch break, but come on through, and let me show you what’s been going on. We do have little gardens, but we particularly have the wicking bed. Now we have two wicking beds, this is what’s been really successful. These very simple wicking beds, where you water from above,
and it goes down to a tank full of gravel underneath, and capillary action keeps the soil damp, so it’s minimum water use. These kids have a school here which, water has to be delivered, it’s delivered every day. So, these kids, I know
some of these kids, Jamal. Yeah, hey! [Jamal] Hello. How are you, good? Oh, look, we know ’em all. How are you, good? Salaam, salaam, salaam. Salaam, salaam, salaam. Salaam, okay, so these are the guys, they’re learning their stuff, they’re learning this is smelly, this is basil, this is tomato, got to shake everybody’s hand. Bissa, hey, salaam, salaam. Bit cautious, all right,
so we have a mixture here of tomatoes, we have capsicum, we have new seedlings
always being planted, it never goes empty. They’re learning about water, little bit of onion, it’s
not a perfect garden, they’re not learning to be perfect, they’re learning how they
can garden appropriately, with minimum water, minimum care, but continuous production, it doesn’t take a lot
of work for this to be continuously producing, they’re learning basic garden skills. So this is a simple wicking bed system. I can see the overflow,
here’s the overflow point, the water fills to
here, then it overflows. So you can’t have a
system using less water. So let’s come this way, Naema,
Naema’s the champion, not me. So over here, we’ve got the beginnings of a little food forest. Muslim Aid Australia, we got
to thank Muslim Aid Australia for sponsoring all this, that’s where the donations have come from. So we’ve given ’em extra water tanks, we’ve given ’em extra water delivery, and there was nothing
here a few months ago. And we’ve started a mixed food forest. So we’ve got different citrus, and we’ve got olive, over the back there we’ve actually got a pomelo fruiting, and it’s the beginnings of understanding food forest ecology, and Naema’s been the champion here, she lives nearby with
her successful garden, and this is how it’s growing
from school to school. How many schools? Four schools. And this landscape looked
like that hill behind. That’s the kind of landscape we’re on, the background shows you the fertility we’ve started with. But little by little, the kids are understanding
we can get production from any situation, and we don’t have to use much water or resources. It’s simple stuff, but
it’s starting to work. We go from here all the
way to universities now. Okay, we’re at a neighbor’s place now, and there’s a bit of a
dog in the background, but that’s all right. And these wicking beds have
been the influence of Naema, along with lots of
interactions in the garden, so we’ve got bananas
producing fruit trees, interesting little gardens,
we’ve had chickens involved. It’s a real expansion of food security. Let’s go out to the front and show you this
beautiful food forest edge that’s been put into the garden as well. So we’ve got a whole establishment along the boundary edge here, that Naema has influenced, and there was nothing here before, and it’s all this mixture
of food forest assembly, it’s quite exotic, actually. There’s really nice legumes, there’s flowering plants,
there’s scented plants, there’s climbers, it’s
just a proliferation of classic food forest type assembly. It’s beautiful stuff, actually, it’s really changed the
urban landscape here. And right at the front gate,
we’ve got a whole assembly of Moringa, which is just amazing stuff. And this is dense suburb,
this is right in amongst the dense village urban landscape, we’ve got influences of permaculture, that’s because Naema’s success has extended out through the village. Okay, so here we are, we have
another neighbor’s property, and there was nothing here originally, and it all started with introducing the wicking bed concept. Once we got these wicking beds in place, well, Naema encouraged
this with her success, all these gardens were started. So there was one or two old trees here, but the rest of it is all coming because the wicking beds
started the process. People realized they could grow, they could get back in touch with growing their own food, and we’ve got all this food production started just from two wicking beds inspiring people that there
are easy ways you can garden. Actually, when you look around,
there’s new fruit trees, there’s crops of broad beans, lima beans, where it was all just a bit of soil. This little bit of inspiration started this whole process,
that’s what it’s about. Show people they can grow
their own food again, show them it’s worthwhile,
show that you get a lot of hope and inspiration from it, and it just extends. It’s extending through the village with each successful garden. So, this is what I’m proud of, what Naema’s been able to achieve with what we started,
really small beginnings end up being very very very useful systems to local people, growing food, getting inspired and
improving their health.