Greening the desert project is an interesting demonstration site that you can visit near the Dead Sea, about 50 mins outside of Amman. It has been created in 2008 by the non-profit organization Jordanian Association For Environment Quality. It showcases permaculture, which is a self-sufficient and sustainable way of agriculture. The site is demonstration site, a class room, serves as an example which can be replicated elsewhere in Jordan and, last not but least as a tourist attraction or site where you can both learn and relax.
All food is organic, no pesticides or chemicals are used. Houses are built of clay using a natural way of cooling, energy is created through solar panels as is hot water. Waste water is filtered and re-used for irrigating plants. There is a plant nursery to grow new plants. Chicken are supporting the composting of food trash, which results in great new material for the plants. Showers and toilets make use of water saving and composting. Also, rain water is being harvested. On the project site there is a communal kitchen used for cooking, learning and demonstrating. Locals produce and process food. In the outside yard you can eat the organic food planted at the site.
When you first arrive to the site, you will enter through the lovely designed modern cafe. Everything served there is of course local and organic. Fruits for juices are from the project site. Coffee was tasty and staff was welcoming. You also have the possibility to buy some small handicraft items such as soap or local dates and eggs, which we did and both were yummy.
After we enjoyed our drinks, we started a guided tour through the site. Our guide was a local woman who was an expert on permaculture and the food-animal system and explained everything to us very well in an excellent English. We wandered from the housing and the compost toilet to the plant nursery and the chicken-compost area which also has rabbits living mainly underground. We saw all kind of different trees from Fig Trees, over Lemon trees to Pomelo. It as however not the season, so we did not see much fruits. There was a plant nursery and little terraces were being used for water harvesting. The shower complex was clean and had solar panels installed. Everything in the site has its purpose and it is very interesting what can be created in such a climate. The weather us surely warm, but with average rainfall in this area, agriculture does not work, unless irrigation is being used. I found it all very interesting and we learned a lot. After the tour we had a quick look in the recently established Ecolodge.
The Ecolodge opened a few weeks ago and is welcoming guests in six differently styled room with some traditional Jordanian interior. Everything is basic but clean, new and cozy. The warm weather of the Dead Sea area is always attracting visitors who are escaping the cold of Amman. It is right within the project site in a very quiet area and gives you the possibility to enjoy the organic food for breakfast or dinner either on the terrace or on the rooftop with a view up to Jerusalem, if weather allows.
For more information on the project, the cafe, the lodge and the people behind it see below:
Location: Near the Dead Sea on the way to King Hussein Bridge