On his final day at the Greening the Desert Project (https://www.greeningthedesertproject.org) this year in Jordan, Geoff takes us on a unique tour of the property. Rather than showcasing its renowned living systems, he’s excited about how the project is continually evolving.
The tour starts on the high mezzanine roof next to solar panels donated and installed by 24 Hour Solar Power from Australia (https://24hoursolarpower.com). The system has a live action feed that allows Geoff and the crew to monitor the power system from anywhere in the world.
Muslim Aid Australia (https://www.maainternational.org.au) and Holistic Sustainable Development (https://holisticsd.org) have helped to fund further development, such as a rooftop over the staircase and a reimagining of the wicking bed rooftop garden. At the rooftop garden, the old wicking beds have been dismantled. The floor and new wicking beds are going to be tiled. Another little rooftop has been added next to the organic café as well.
On the second floor of the main building, accommodations are now available, done in Jordanian style with first-world comfort. There are six bedrooms constructed of mudbrick and straw bale, and from the windows, there are nice views of the project and surrounding area. These are now available on AirBnB and available to interns who don’t want to camp.
Due to an overwhelming turnout (60 people) for courses this past year, the classroom is in the process of being upgraded and enlarged. A wall has been taken down. Within the same space, a sewing workshop has been added, and there is storage for products local participants are making on and from the site, including wax candles, soaps, natural preserves, honey, pickles, olives, and spices. There are even service trays made from repurposed pallet wood.
Downstairs, the wicking beds are nicely dressed up in tile. There is a new four-bath reedbed system on the western wall to clean up greywater from the organic café’s sinks and water the vine crop that shades the western wall. The beds ultimately feed a newly installed banana circle. The worm farms are being taken down and replaced with a new system, and the old space is going to be a nice sitting area.
Also funded by MAA and HolisticSD, there is an outdoor sitting courtyard for the café, and inside, the ceiling is being insulated and lined with timber. New electricity for lights is going in, as well as power points for the internet. Sitting amongst it all is a beautiful new solar dehydrator built by the interns this year.
has donated subterranean worm farms that go directly into the garden and fertilize the garden in situ. This design doesn’t get as yucky as old system, and the design also helps to keep flies away. It is a more aesthetic version than the old system, and it is flat-packed and made from recycled plastic. The plan is to put them in wicking beds as an experiment.
There is a new storeroom for carpentry tools and recycled/repurposed materials, including a functioning compressor and solar lights.
From the streetscape, the entrance to organic garden café is stunning. Inside, it is beautifully equipped and replete with first-world comforts. Organic coffee is available, and the project’s products mentioned earlier are available for sale. A Greening the Desert organic tea has also made the scene. In the garden courtyard behind the café, pigeon pots for roosting pigeons are waiting to be installed directly into the straw bale wall of the building.
The site is evolving. The food forest looks more and more developed. There are now compost piles everywhere the interns had set up their tents. Secondary footpaths have opened up routes throughout the food forest.
has donated a beehive to the site, and it’s waiting to be populated. All the water systems have been adjusted and finished.
2019 has been a success, a decade in the making.