The ground outside may not be ready for planting yet but inside Hanna El-Mosader’s greenhouse, lettuce, cucumbers and peppers are already blooming.
Her tomatoes, melons and eggplants should be ready for harvesting in another month or so. “Before I received the greenhouse from ANERA, we planted only in the summer season. We planted two crops only – onion and okra,” she said. “With the greenhouse, we can cultivate a variety of produce all year long.”
Hanna’s family is one of 35 in Gaza who received a greenhouse, farming supplies, a water tank, an irrigation system and seedlings. The participants also took part in training sessions that focused on best agricultural practices.
ANERA created the program in partnership with the Society of Palestinian Farmers in central Gaza to help needy families in marginalized communities achieve food security by farming their own land and gaining a sustainable source of food for their family.
ANERA’s cost for the greenhouse runs about $1,500 and about $100 for the water tank, two key items that the farming families could not afford. The greenhouses give families the means to extend the growing season and expand their production within a limited space.
In Gaza, where unemployment averages nearly 50% and food prices constantly are rising, the home garden helps relieve financial pressures.It is also a source of pride, says Hanna. “Children feel much happier when they know the salad of cucumbers, lettuce and parsley are all made just around the corner, in their new greenhouse.”
Younis Shaheen, a father of nine, says he used to pay more than $25 a week for vegetables in the market. Now, he can grow his own in his own greenhouse. “I used to work for cash on other people’s land,” said Younis. “ANERA gave me 90 tomato seedlings and I expect to produce more than 1,400 kilos of tomatoes from them. I already have produced 300 seedlings out of the original 90,” he said with pride. “I plan to sell the surplus in the market for some income.”
Like Younis, Hanna El- Mosader, realizes the benefits of the home garden to her family – as a source of nutrition and income. “I go to the greenhouse at least seven times a day to weed and to water the plants.”