Since the establishment of healthy ecosystems is seen by SEKEM as a way to reduce the climate issue, biodiverse ecosystems play a crucial role in controlling the earth’s climate. Therefore, SEKEM is creating a scorecard that does not only consider the issue of the number of species in order to assess the effect of SEKEM’s operations on biodiversity, but also we gauging our success by the amount of sustainably managed and reclaimed land, the number of trees planted, the quality of the soil, the amount of water used, the variety of species represented, and the amount of chemical contamination.
Our farm in Wahat Bahariya is a motivating illustration of how the desert can be turned into green, productive land. Wahat Farm, where land cultivation and biodiversity preservation were balanced, became a haven for numerous birds and insects.
Along with the primary agricultural activity at the Greening the Desert project in Wahat, SEKEM offers an additional environmental service by issuing carbon credits. In order to expand the scope of carbon credits beyond simple emission reduction, SEKEM intends to articulate and include biodiversity’s co benefits into the Economy of Love carbon credit program. This can make it easier to interact with ethical businesses that aim to improve the fertility of the soil, increase wildlife habitat, and diversify the desert landscape in addition to offsetting their emissions.
Commonland visits El-Wahat
In order to implement the 4 Returns Framework, a useful sustainable development tool for system change that connects ecology, community values, culture, and long-term economic sustainability and enables all stakeholders to contribute their vision of a resilient landscape, on the ground, our friends from Commonland visited SEKEM Desert Farm in Wahat in June. The original idea was to implement this structure on the scale of the entire Wahat Bahreya, but Willem Ferwerda (founder and CEO of Commonland) decided to provide SEKEM with the opportunity to do so. At the Social Innovative Forum, which will be held in Wahat in October, all stakeholders, including representatives from the government, business, and local communities, could come together and co-create a perfect vision for Wahat. This ambitious and, needless to say, difficult idea is planned to be discussed in detail at that event.
Thanks to our valuable supporters, we were able to install the 3rd pivot watering system of the second phase, to reclaim additional 21 hectares of Egyptian desert land. So far we have a variety of crops: Chamomile, Cotton, Lemongrass, Marjoram and Garlic. And there is even more to come!
The Desert community is getting bigger.. And younger!
SEKEM Wahat is now home to 2 new families. Walid Gaber, an engineer, and Mohamed Hassan, a chef; both brought their families to build the SEKEM Wahat community.
6 beautiful children are now living happily in SEKEM Wahat. Additionally, 3 of SEKEM School’ talented teachers have also settled in to help establish SEKEM Wahat School and teach their new pupils.
Community-Based learning (CBL)
The desert has become full of life! Recently around 80 students from Heliopolis University joined SEKEM Wahat to implement community-based learning.Organic agriculture students planted 400 trees of Jojoba, 500 Casuarina trees, and 100 Mango trees. The Physical Therapy students screened the 80 co-workers and introduced to them good body postures to improve the health and well being of the workers.
Thanks to the great support of many people from all over the globe, we were able to install two more pivots and reclaimed additional 42 hectares of desert land. The newly restored land is already used to cultivate lemongrass, marjoram,spearmint, and peanuts. The first harvest is coming soon – so stay tuned.
We still have 188,000 Euro to raise,1 more pivot to install, and 21 hectare of desert land to reclaim.
Looking after the people – Daniela our new community member
Since the digging of the first well at the SEKEM-Wahat farm, looking after the people and their wellbeing was a top priority. So with the first worker on sight, we thought of how to provide essential healthcare. We sought out doctors and nurses from the surrounding areas for regular checks. Now we are happy to have our full time resident Daniela, who is overseeing the establishment of SEKEM-Wahat basic medical center. Daniela is not only offering essential medical care to the workers, but also promoting a healthy nutrition concept and taking care of an integral health approach.
Let the youth plan our future
We are currently in the process of establishment our onsite “Desert Research Center” in SEKEM-Wahat. With such a vibrant learning center, we are not only a “demonstration site” for ecological and biodiversity activities but we are also engaging students from our partner, the Heliopolis University of Sustainable Development, in real community based learning activities. They have the chance now to be involved in organic agriculture, sustainable energy or medicinal plants research and field study.
Meanwhile, blooming Chamomile covers the field of our second Pivot as far as eyes can see. The chamomile is ready for its first harvest and soon, the first products grown on former desert soil of our second Pivot, will be ready for shipping.
Since we already reached a fair amount of our funding goal, we were able to set up the basic structure of the first two pivots of our second phase. These pivots will be used to cultivate peanuts and spearmint each covering 50 feddan (21 hectares).
The Future of Greening The Desert – 100% of our funding goal achieved
Today we can celebrate, we collected 400.000 Euros for the greening of 630.000 square meters of desert soil – and we are going on, another 2300 acres of desert land are waiting to be reclaimed.
We Thanks all of our contributors to make this possible. With this project we want to set a concrete example of how many opportunities we have today to make a change in the world. 10 Months ago we started our campaign for the reclamation of 63 hectares of desert land and this unbelievable goal became reality. We funded 400.000 Euros and with this money we installed three solar-powered pivots, that will cultivate 63 ha of land with biodynamic principles. But your contribution is serving much more than just sustainable agriculture!
Wahat is still in its early days, different people are joining the journey of creating this young community. And we already started to think about how the future could look like. We want to establish an open, intentional community, where people come together to work with a shared vision of a brighter future.
The vision for our farm in Wahat is shared with the vision that guided SEKEM through the past 42 years and shaped it into what it became today.
Supporting Climate mitigation.
Creating jobs and Providing education for the community and the surroundings
Creating sustainable community where cultures can gather and create a fertile ground for exchange
All that is part of our project.
Thank you again for joining us in this journey of not only greening the desert , but also opening up a door for the creation of such a community.
In the beginning of the year we had the unbelievable goal, to raise 400.000 Euros to fund the reclaiming of 630.000 square meters of desert land.
Now, 9 months later it doesn’t look so unbelievable anymore!
How far are we?
Meanwhile the second pivot is running and irrigates the next 21 hectares of sandy desert soil – the first chamomile sprouts already.
Due to more than 1.000 tons of compost, that we spread on our new field, the sand turns slowly brown.
The compost offers our still very tender plants what they need to thrive in this harsh environment.
In total we have already greened 42 hectares of desertland in this year alone.
What is still missing
We are 16 percent away from financing three solar-powered pivots. 16 percent of 400.000 Euros! So far, the third pivot is not yet connected and is waiting to finally become active. With the missing 67,000 Euros, the solar-power-supply for the third pivot will be funded and it can start working as
In summary, we will plant peppermint and peanuts on our 1st pivot, chamomile on the 2nd Pivot and spearmint and 50.000 trees on the 3rd pivot. Then the trio will be complete and able to grow in an annual rate.
Next year we will start with the third pivot and thus with our forest in the desert.
Once we accomplished that – 630.000 square meters of desert land will have transformed into fertile farmland.