The recent political crisis in Syria has given millions no choice but to pack up and leave their home. While news outlets have extensively covered the international refugee crisis, there is less attention to the people who remain in Syria, many of whom are living under siege. With their cities under attack, it can be extremely difficult to get basic necessities, like food and fresh produce. That’s why an activist named Abdallah Al Shaar started an extensive urban farming project across 17 besieged cities throughout Syria.
His project, called the 15th Garden, named after the day the revolution against Assad began, the 15th of March, 2011, is bringing life and vivacity back to these war-torn cities through 30 farms across Syria. The 15th Garden helps locals start gardens in empty lots, teaching them skills, and provides assistance to existing urban farms. Two main goals of 15th Garden is to get food to those trapped in cities while raising awareness about food sovereignty.
One major obstacle has been the acquisition of seeds to get this all started! Thankfully, a network of German farms provided heritage seeds and money to Syrian farmers, sending the seeds through Lebanon and crossing the border. Because of blockades, activists risked their lives to get these seeds to the country. Tragically, Abdallah’s role in civil activist put him on the “wanted list” and he has been forced to flee. Luckily, he’s made it Sweden, where he’s working on the 15th Garden website.
It’s so inspiring to see this network of activists and farmers work together to rebuild their lives after such tragedy. Through dedication and hard work, we hope that 15th Garden can spread to as many cities as possible, and continue to give Syrians the food, produce and power they need and deserve!
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