Monday, 18 July 2011

Visiting An Organic Garden in Riyadh


There's an organic garden in Riyadh.  A vege garden to be more precise, owned by a Prince. I was fortunate enough to have a tour of the garden, with a group of expat ladies, led by the current head gardener, a lovely young woman who I believe hails from Wales and is passionate about organic gardening practices.

Produce from the garden supplies the Prince's household and are utilised for any functions he may hold. 

The gardens are a lovely oasis amid the dust and concrete mix that is Riyadh.  The garden is in a valley, overlooked by mud village ruins and what looks to be an old guard outpost atop a dry hillside that a few of us climbed to get a birds eye view of the place.  There are rows of veges and herbs, some chooks and two green houses on the property providing a cool contrast to the barren surrounds.


As much as possible during our visit we stayed in the shade of various tall trees, all the while listening to our guide explaining the history of the garden, it's development, the plants and the challenges of being organic in Riyadh.  But this is a garden and at some point one must venture into the sun...



At the end of the day we were able to purchase some of the produce.  Many expats have asked about getting organic vegetables delivered to their compounds, but this garden is not quite large enough for such a commercial venture just yet.

There is, however, opportunity to volunteer at the garden (over the cooler months of course) if you are looking for some outdoor activity and are missing your vege patch at home.  

Not all compounds have room for, or allow, vege gardens.  On our compound we were excited to see some wild sown tomato plants.  They even started to produce fruit and I was looking forward to trying the tomatoes once they were ripe, but the garden maintenance guys came through one day and pulled all the plants out and replaced them with flowers.  It made me feel kind of flat.

I admit that initially I was dubious about this visit because 'organic gardens' and 'Riyadh' are not words that go together, but we had an interesting morning and it was a wonderful visit.  To find out more contact the American Community in Riyadh as they organised this tour for us.


Ka Kite,
Kiwi

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