Urban Farming in Syria Saves Lives During Sieges
The 15th garden, it’s an urban gardening project that provides food for people living in Syrian cities that are under siege. Currently there are 30 of the gardens in 17 different besieged cities throughout Syria.
Apr 29, 2016
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The project started with a group of Zabadani women who needed seeds to grow food, yet nothing was allowed to enter or exit the city. At that time, Zabadani was still under siege by both Assad forces and Hezbollah. Siege warfare is brutal and turns a city into a prison. To give an example of how severe the blockade was, Abdallah says, not even the UN was able to retrieve dying patients from the city in order to give them proper care. And there is no shortage of patients in Syria, just this week the Assad regime attacked the rebel held side of Aleppo which destroyed a vital hospital and resulted in at least 50 deaths.
In response to the Zabadani Women’s call for support, a network of German farmers collected heritage seeds and money in a show of solidarity with Syrian farmers, and sent the seeds to Lebanon (which is just across the border from Zabadani). From Lebanon the supplies made their way to Zabadani through an underground network of activists who risked their lives to get the seeds through the blockade.
When this small initiative in Zabadani succeeded, activists copied the model in other cities, naming it after the day the revolution against Assad began: the 15th of March, 2011. The two main focuses of the project were to get food to people in besieged cities, and to raise awareness about the importance of food sovereignty and organics.