New exciting things are happening every day at our SEKEM Wahat farm. In this article we collected just several highlights of the projects that are going on there at the moment.
Basalt has a property to react with CO2 and remove it from the atmosphere. To take advantage of it, SEKEM Wahat farm has started a project to explore how blending basalt powder with compost in different amounts can improve the carbon dioxide capture of the soil and also study what impact basalt has on vegetation. The experiment is being planned to start in April right after the harvest of chamomile. The trials will be conducted with different amounts of basalt and compost applied to 8 distinct types of crops and the results will be tracked over the course of the year.
Wastewater Treatment Project
The SEKEM for Land Reclamation and Engineering faculty of the Heliopolis University have come together to improve the quality of water used for irrigation in the SEKEM Wahat farm. A wastewater treatment facility has been set up close to a guesthouse and the next steps involve placing sand, basalt stones, and certain types of plants in order to purify the wastewater for tree irrigation purposes.
4 Returns Project
An effective two-day workshop was recently held in Bawiti within the project of 4 Returns framework implementation at Bahariya Oasis. 120 participants, mostly farmers, were in attendance to discuss the main issues concerning the agricultural sector of Wahat Bahariya, including compost production, renewable energies, waste management, biopesticides, and tree planting. SEKEM’s experience was shared as an example of a sustainable agricultural model. A list of people interested in partnering with SEKEM and receiving help in the issues was created. SEKEM will follow up with regular meetings with stakeholders to provide support and exchange knowledge.
Agroforestry and Permaculture Garden
Volunteers from the Ecosystem Restoration Communities have launched a research project to explore the use of permaculture methods in the desert, that includes mulching and different types of compost use. The project has already seen success, with vegetables like cabbage, onions, lettuce, and herbs being harvested for use in the cafeteria. The next phase will involve planting fruit trees near the guesthouse to combine agroforestry and permaculture techniques. The goal of this project is to discover the most successful strategies that can be applied on a larger scale for sustainable farming in arid environments.
At the start of 2023, ten dairy cows moved to our desert farm in Wahat and since then, its inhabitants have been able to enjoy dairy products like cheese and yogurt produced right at the farm. The number of cows is planned to be increased by the end of the year. It will be monitored to determine how well the cows can adjust to living in the desert environment.
New School Complex
The construction of the school complex at the Wahat farm is now complete and the children can enjoy their new classrooms. The complex consist out of six classrooms, a head office, teachers rooms, and space for the events. The buildings were constructed using local natural materials such as clay, wood, and stones. In addition, trees were planted at the territory of the complex to provide shade and a pleasant environment for the kids. Currently a kindergarten for the younger children is being built nearby the school complex. For the final steps of the project glass windows and furniture need to be installed in the kindergarten as well as the additional plumbing.