DESC Desert Food Forest
DESC Desert Food Forest
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Commenced:
01/10/2012
Submitted:
06/07/2012
Last updated:
07/10/2015
Location:
Dubai English Speaking College, Academic City, Dubai, AE
Climate zone:
Arid





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DESC Desert Food Forest

DESC Desert Food Forest

Academic City, AE


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Striking Brown Gold in the Desert

Project: DESC Desert Food Forest

Posted by Gaina Dunsire over 6 years ago

Copy of a blog aimed at a Permie and non-Permie audience

The UAE is perhaps better known for its Black Gold, but I struck Brown Gold this week when I spotted a skip (or dumpster to my non-UK readers) just a few hundred yards from the school. It was overflowing with Date Palm trunks, and around it was a whole selection of organic goodies. This is a rare gift when you live in the desert. The few wild shrubs and trees that exist already struggle for survival without me cutting off their thorny branches, whilst landscaping companies most commonly take their waste to landfill. Finding suitable material for compost and mulch is akin to striking gold.

Firstly I collected 8 sack loads of fine leaf debris; perfect for making compost. After learning the 18 day compost method on my Permaculture Design Course in  the UK,  I recently refined my skills further on an internship at the Permaculture Research Institute in Jordan, where my enthusiasm for the brown stuff earned me the title of Compost Queen. This precious hoard allowed me to try making my own compost as I had enough material to make a 1 metre square sized pile. This is the minimum size necessary to allow the decomposing material to create enough heat, and help ensure the compost is full of magical micro-organisms to feed the soil.

 

Next I gingerly checked for  snakes and scorpions, and when nothing appeared to be sleeping in my treasure, I gathered armfuls of hessian-like sheets which form where the Date Palm's trunk meets its branches. This year I am developing the old school garden as a nursery and compost area, and I plan to have an after-school club there shortly, so it needs to look presentable to the non-converted. These fibrous sheets mean that instead of buying in plastic or using unsightly, and arguably toxic cardboard, I  have ready-made 100% natural sheet mulch. This key component of  Permaculture gardens around the world as a low-input, non-dig method of suppressing weeds has an additional and extremely crucial role to play here in the hot, arid climate of Dubai; reducing evaporation.

 

Lastly a friend with a 4x4 agreed to be my accomplice in what is probably Dubai's first incident of Skipping (Dumpster Diving). Therefore I was able to continue my plunder with three trunks of some other unfortunate trees. Who knows why they were felled and abandoned as rubbish. But no matter, they will end their lives on the forest floor of the new Desert Forest Garden, creating interesting natural features and a habitat for insects and lizards. The skip was a truly golden, and multi-functional find. I'm just not quite sure the cleaners at the car rental company will see it that way.

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