Last March, the village of Tunis Fayoum in Egypt was the site of a remarkable workshop on community gardens delivered by Edie Mukibi, Vice-President of Slow Food International.
The two-day hands-on workshop was attended by prominent Egyptian professors, Dr. Fawzy Aboul Abbas (Ain Shams University), Dr. Hassan Abou Bakr (Cairo University), and Dr. Mennat Allah El Dorry (archeo-botanist at the Ministry of Antiquities), who provided the translation and helped explain the overall approach to the Egyptian farmers. Nazarena Lanza, Office for Africa & Middle East at Slow Food International, and a number of Slow Food Egypt members, farmers, men and women from Tunis and citizens from across Egypt came to listen and learn.
The success of this workshop is reflected in the paradigm shift demonstrated by the farmers, especially the women, who initially came to the workshop looking for ways to get rich quickly. They walked away understanding that the most important thing is to grow good, clean and fair food that will feed family and friend, and that building a vegetable garden according to the Slow Food guidelines is essential for a better life.
In a gesture of incredible generosity, Wafik Wahid (Slow Food Gardens Coordinator in Fayoum) dedicated a plot of land to the women farmers who do not own any land and invited them to plant it and use for as long as he was there in Tunis. The five women got to work immediately, tilling the soil and planting the seeds that Slow Food members had brought and exchanged.
Today, the work goes on in Tunis as more men and women are wanting to join forces and to grow good, clean and food for their families. Two more plots have been added to the garden in Fayoum. The fisherman of lake Qarun who lost their livelihood due to the pollution of the lake, are looking to create their own. More communities are approaching Wafik to start their gardens. They realize now that what they grow is of better quality and could possibly lead to a new, growing market in Fayoum. We are encouraging them to approach the restaurants and hotels that are open in Tunis Fayoum-a tourist destination, and to provide them with quality products. It is a win-win situation.
By Minnie Meebed, October 2nd 2019