Refugees, scientists find new way to grow food in deserts

Discarded mattresses in refugee camps have been found useful for desert farming.

A team of scientists and experts worked together with Syrian refugees in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan to build ‘desert gardens’ that could be a source of herbs and vegetables for the people in the camp.

Through hydroponics (growing plants via water, not soil) scientists from the University of Sheffield used using the foam mattresses as foam ‘soils’ of the crops.

Professor Tony Ryan, Director of the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures at the University of Sheffield, said: “The refugees we have worked with have taken our training and made the project their own, growing things we never thought would be possible in the desert environment using recycled materials.”

Ryan also added: “If we can make desert gardens economically and culturally sustainable in Jordan, we can ultimately roll this out around the world and help millions of refugees to thrive.”

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