Naema is a local student of the Green the Desert project, and she created a highly productive garden at her house. The garden is terraced and carved out of solid rock, but via a “chicken tractor on steroids”, she and her family have created a fertile place to plant. She is a symbol of success for the GTD project, and she is now having a huge influence on the local community.
Geoff takes time to interview Naema after students from the GTD internship have had a guided tour of her property. Her gardens are in their third year, and she’s already attained self-reliance in the garden, supplying all of her family’s vegetable and herb needs. She is growing a mix of crops, such as eggplant, tomato, chili, capsicum (bell pepper), onion, spinach (Egyptian, Brazilian, and Ceylon), zucchini, cucumber, potato, mint, sage, and oregano. Her eight wicking beds help to make it easier in the summer, and she has shocked people with her results utilizing permaculture techniques on the rocky terrain. Most of her fertility has come from chickens supplying a cubic meter of compost every month, which has been spread on her production gardens as well as throughout the food forest. Vegetable scraps and local materials have then gone in to subsidize the chicken feed.
Naema has shared these techniques in the greater community. She and Geoff visit a local school, one of four, where Naema has been introducing school gardens, starting with wicking beds to teach the children to grow with minimum amount of water and human care. These are growing tomato, capsicum, onion, and basil. There is also a fledgling food forest, a few months old, with mixed citrus trees and olives. These projects have been helped along by donations from Muslim Aid Australia (https://www.muslimaid.org.au). Additionally, Naema has had an influence on neighbors. She introduced them to wicking beds, and from there, they’ve also moved into food forests, both within the walls of their homes and along the exterior borders. They are growing mixed fruit trees and mingling the ecosystem with fertility from chickens. They’ve learned there are easy ways to grow gardens. Thanks to her influence, the urban landscape of Naema’s village is being transformed from bare rock to green.