Many refugee camps for Syrian refugees are located in the middle of the desert in Jordan and Lebanon. The larges of these is the Zaatari refugee camp, located in Jordan just over the Syrian border, which houses around 100,000 refugees from Syria. On this camp and others like it, fresh food is scarce and farming and gardening is nearly impossible due to the harsh, arid climate. In addition, there is a lack of shade from the sun in such camps.
We created a planter that allows refugees to grow fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs while also providing them with shade and a potential community gathering space. At full scale, the planter stands about seven feet tall, allowing people to stand or sit under it and use it for shade. It also swivels down to closer to ground level to allow people to tend to the plants in the planter. Eventually, the planter will have a tarp over it that will allow certain amounts of sunlight in while still trapping moisture in the planter. This will allow users of the planter to minimize water consumption, as water is often hard to find in refugee camps, particularly ones in the desert such as Zaatari.
Our first iteration was actually a radically different idea which involved a symbiotic relationship between plants and fish, which would live in a tank below the actual planter. The fish would feed off the nutrients created by the plants, while the