A hundred years on from providing seeds to WWI prisoners of war, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is working with the Lemon Tree Trust to supply seeds to Syrian refugees living in Domiz camp in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
For the millions of people living in refugee camps, the simple act of gardening and growing plants can be a hugely important way to connect with where they have come from and regain some dignity amid the chaos of living in a situation of forced migration. Over history, prisoners of war have also found horticulture a fundamental means to improve their living conditions, not only by growing food but also from the psychological benefits of gardening.
A hundred years ago, the RHS sent seeds to British citizens who were prisoners of war in the
Ruhleben internment camp in Germany. Now, in a striking parallel and with the help of the Lemon Tree Trust, the RHS has delivered seeds to Syrian refugees living in Domiz in Northern Iraq. The Lemon Tree Trust has been working in the refugee camps of Northern Iraq since 2015, supporting refugees through the provision of seeds and plants, garden competitions and education centres.
There are many incredible similarities between the two stories, but at the heart is the message that even in the toughest times, gardening is a fundamental human desire – to grow food and to seek solace in cultivating a patch of ground, even in the harshest conditions.