Monday, February 17, 2020

Mattresses Turned Into Refugee Gardens

Creativity and innovation can take many forms. 

Tony Ryan (right), a physical chemistry professor at the University of Sheffield initiated an idea that has benefited a refugee community in Jordan. 

This is the Zaatari camp, located 10km east of Mafraq (80km to the north from the capital Amman) and which has gradually evolved into a permanent settlement. Said to be the world’s largest camp for Syrian refugees, it was first opened in July 2012 to host Syrians fleeing the violence in the ongoing Syrian civil war that erupted in March 2011. 

Today, the Syrian refugees work together with the British university to grow fresh, healthy food with nothing but water and old mattress foam.
These 'gardens' use the mattresses in place of the soil, which solves two problems in one: It reuses the mountain of plastic mattresses that have piled up in the camp and it allows everyone to grow fresh food in a crowded, desert environment. 

Even those of us who live in urban environments can learn from this project – it’s all about taking value from things that can be reused and recycled and making the absolute most out of very limited spaces and really limited resources. 

As Ryan says, all it takes is “a tiny little bit of science and a whole load of local ingenuity”.

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