There is quite some construction going on in the desert in Wahat! After the so-called “mountain house” was completely finished and furnished at the end of last year, various construction works are currently underway to create more space for living and working on the Wahat Farm. Three small houses, located next to pivots have been upgraded with more space as well as water and electricity for living. The new cafeteria, also built of rammed earth, is already in place and the morning circle now takes place in front of it every day. Many of the staff must have been very cold during the ceremony this winter, because the cold season was and is particularly hard this time: Hoarfrost, hail and lots of rain were recorded in the western desert.
This year there was frost in the desert.
In the meantime, also the drying area for herbs offers more space now; its size has been doubled from approx. 8,000 square metres to approx. 16,000 square metres. In addition, a wall was built to protect the drying area from road dust. Among other things, hibiscus flowers are dried there – the last harvest on the former desert land was very good. Hibiscus tea hot or cold, called Karkadé in Egypt, is a very famous drink. In addition to hibiscus, chamomile, peppermint, thyme, marjoram, and lemongrass are also handled in the drying houses.
Recently the Wahat community started to bake their own bread.
Growth did also take place in the solar power plants and among the trees: six new photovoltaic plants have been put into operation and the “Western Forest” did increase by 40,000 new trees. Besides, the composting site was put into operation last August and has already produced 4000 tons of compost, which is used for winter cultivation. Another 3000 tons are currently in the making.
A recreation area has been established including a cineama for the co-worker.
A special valuable new feature for the people is a recreation area, where they can rest, relax and exchange ideas or even watch a film on the screen. Cinema feeling in the middle of the desert! And another highlight for the Wahat community was the installation of an oven on the farm – now they can bake their own bread!
There is probably no other place in Egypt where so much is developing in such a short time as in Wahat! Not only the fields are growing more and more, but also the community is expanding and consequently the premises are growing as well. Even the bee colonies are to grow soon, as a test phase has shown that the first colonies brought to Wahat have done well under the climatic conditions here.
Cotton, peanuts, jojoba and dates have already been harvested this late summer and fall. The hibiscus, which is currently being harvested, grew excellently – its capsules are picked on the mother farm near Cairo, as there are not yet enough workers for this in Wahat. The basil as well as the lemongrass could already be cut a few times. A big help for the lemongrass harvest was the new “full harvest machine” that had just arrived.
In the past, it often happened that the biodynamic products grew very well, but the machines were too weak for the large areas. Therefore, the community is very thankful for the new equipment from Germany, thanks to which the agricultural power could be increased enormously. Among the new acquisitions is also a machine for chamomile harvesting. Throughout November, chamomile was sown on virtually every available spot: four pivots now irrigate about 200 feddan of chamomile.
To the west of the farm, a “forest strip” is being created, for which some 35,000-40,000 trees have already been planted. They grow very well and serve as protection against pesticide drift and against wind.
A fascinating project is also the first house made of rammed earth in Wahat, which was completed some time ago – it is made exclusively of sustainable materials, is perched on a mountain near the farm, and does not need an external power source thanks to solar panels. The innovative design ensures that the house is cooled in summer and heated in winter. The three bedrooms, eat-in kitchen, and meeting room are now being tested in living. The view is as impressive as the building itself.
Two more buildings are now being constructed in the same style in a semicircle, because with so much growth there is naturally an enormous amount of work to be done, so more and more employees are coming to Wahat. One building will house a large new cafeteria, a meeting room and a laboratory. The second building, which will be built back-to-back behind the other, will serve as a staff house. In addition, a mosque will find its place here. Thus, a large area for living, eating and living will be created. In the future, the morning circle will also take place in front of this new complex. The old building complex will remain as living space for families and interns. The first walls have already been built, but are still being covered to protect them from drying out too quickly under the desert sun.
On our desert farm in Wahat El-Bahareyya, we are currently reclaiming several hundreds of hectares of desert land through sustainable agriculture and supported by a crowdfunding campaign. Here is the latest update.
We have successfully installed 6 pivot-watering systems in total. Now, we are proud to announce that these pivots are fully driven by renewable energy. In addition, four old wells are now running on Photovoltaic energy.
Our long-term target is to increase capacity to 2 Megawatts of power provided by renewable energy, after achieving 1 Megawatt in May 2021.
The cultural heart of Wahat Farm
As SEKEM is convinced that one’s potential evolves with the inclusion of arts and culture, we are glad to announce that the opening of the Amphitheater Ibrahim Abouleish was in May. This theater plays an important part in the cultural life at the SEKEM-Wahat farm. The performances include traditional music and storytelling from the local area of the Bahareya oasis as well as contributions from guest artists coming from Cairo or other parts of Egypt. On the stage, also our community members do various shows and explore their artistic side.
Now, a few months after the launch of our campaign, we have closed the last link in the chain and the construction of our solar system is complete. With that being done, our first system is finished as planned. 50 feddan of former egyptian desert are now irrigated using solar energy! On this occasion we want to take you on a small journey and show you how it all actually looks like on site and how our system works.
In the meantime, we have already started the construction work on our second pivot. From October onwards, we will be able to take up our work on the second 50 feddan of desert land, where, in a short while, soothing chamomile will start blooming.
But our agricultural project is only part of the whole. The core of our project is about sustainable community development and individual potential unfolding. Meanwhile, our core program has started on our farm in Wahat. SEKEM’s art educators visit our farm repeatedly and offer painting classes, eurythmy as well as several other art courses and educational activities for our employees. At the same time, we are creating new living space on our farm – so that even more enthusiastic people are able to join our community project.
Become part of the project and green the desert with us!
It’s Getting Greener and Greener – Update on the “Greening the Desert Campaign”
All the efforts that have been put in our project to green 63 hectares of desert land show first results. A few weeks after we started planting the first seeds we now look over our land that is now getting green. A scent of mint is filling the air, which makes us realise how much the landscape around
us changed within a short time. We want to thank everybody who helped us coming this far after such a short time!
We could already raise more than 204 000 €, bought and build up the first pivot irrigation system, planted the first seeds and now see the very first peppermint plants growing.
The solar-panels arrived a few weeks after planned, but now that they are there, we will be able to finish the installation of the solar-system.
We are starting to plant not only 10.000 trees as promised, but 12.000 trees around the cultivated area.
Join our campaign and help us to reclaim more parts of the Egyptian desert!
Schon wenige Wochen nach dem Start kann sich SEKEM mit guten Nachrichten zurückmelden! Dank der zahlreichen Menschen die das Projekt bereits unterstützen konnten schon mehr als 170.000 Euro eingesammelt werden. Das bedeutet 43 % des Gesamtziels sind bereits erreicht und der Aufbau des ersten Bewässerungssystems kann beginnen. SEKEM spricht allen Unterstützern größten Dank aus!
In unserem nächsten Update melden wir uns von unserer Farm, wo der Startschuss bereits ertönt ist und die ersten Arbeiten zum Aufbau begonnen haben.