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.
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.
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!
Two and a half months after the start of our cultivation, we started haarvesting our new peppermint fields for the first time. The result was 6 tons of fresh peppermint from the 20 acres that we planted in May. After a few days of drying, the 6 tons will shrink down to 1 ton of dry peppermint and can be poured as delicious tea. Eventhough we are happy about our first harvest, the yield itself was not the main reason for harvesting. Rather, trimming the plants in this early stage, stimulates root growth which will increase their resilience and leads to a highter cultivation density and thereby to higher yields in the future.
We expect the first big peppermint harvest for the begining of september and a total yield of more than 2 tons per acre in the first year. The other half of the pivot, which is planted with peanuts will be harvested in October.
We want to thank all of our contributors again for making this happen!
Next week we will show you how our finished system, including our new solar-system looks like.
Furthermore we are currently digging our new well for the second Pivot. We will begin with opperating the second Pivot in September on which we start our cultivation with camomile.
Art and culture in the desert
In addition to the first successful harvest on former desert soil, we have already made some efforts to promote the community building and development of employees in the rough area. The about 50 co-workers of the SEKEM Farm in Wahat El-Bahareya have recently had frequent visits from art educators from Heliopolis University. Together, they painted, did eurythmy and even juggled. In the months before, there were already music workshops and information courses on the subject of plastic. Starting in September, these courses will be held even more regular and become an integral part of the life of the staff at SEKEM Farm in Wahat el-Bahareyya.
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!
In this update we have two reasons to celebrate. We achieved 50 % of our initial goal of raising 400.000 Euros and the cultivation started.
50 % done – 50 % to go
We are happy to announce that the first Pivot is running and the cultivation of the first 21 hectares started.
Thanks to our numerous supporters we were able to raise already 200.000 Euro in the past few weeks. We are very grateful that so many people were delighted by our project and decided to join our campaign. You want to support our campaign as well!
In order to do that we brought more than 1000 tons of compost to our farm in Bahariyya and started to plant spearmint on the first half of the pivot. In the coming days we will finish the first cultivation of the newly reclaimed land by planting peanuts on the remaining 10 hectares.
What happens next?
Our next big step is to install the solar-panels for the first pivot. Currently we are preparing the sight by building the foundation for the solar panels and by the end of the month we will start to install the solar system.