Urban Farmers

In the streets of Badaro neighbours greet each other and chat together, like in a village’s market place. The Badaro Urban Farmers and their Sunday market, have created a friendly neighbourhood atmosphere.   

Every Sunday, from 9 am to 2 pm, small local producers meet in Badaro. Walking around the colourful fruits and vegetables stalls, tasting fresh milk and goat cheese, and preparing a mouneh with jam, zaatar or seeds are some of the perks of this improvised market in the heart of the city.  The Badaro Urban Farmers community, partner of the comité des commerçant de Badaro, also offers the possibility for supporters of farm to table products, to visit producers directly in regions across Lebanon. Recent tours to Beino, Saadnayel, or Dlebta, have allowed participants to discover cutting edge techniques in agriculture, always respectful of the environment. They have helped with daily farm work using artisanal tools, walked among organic plantations and learned permaculture, a technique that associates crop varieties; vegetables, fruit trees and aromatic herbs, in order to reproduce ecosystems existing in nature. The Badaro Urban Farmers look for audacious entrepreneurs that introduce innovative methods to safeguard the environment. Among the thirty plus exhibitors, there is the one who chose to start aquaponics, creating a mini ecosystem in which plants nourish themselves with fish excrements and purify water for the little marine animals. One producer creates essential oils made using mint, oregano and flowers and yet another bold entrepreneur chose to harvest oyster mushrooms in Machghara.

Benoit Berger, one of the founding members of the group, revealed that in less than a year, since the market’s launch, he has met ten times as many residents of his neighbourhood as during the previous ten years. In November 2017, an initiative of Cyril Rollinde and Philippe Dagher, both keen to promote a healthy environment in their Badaro neighbourhood, gathered a small group of four volunteers who decided to brainstorm ideas which could improve the living environment of residents and weave social bonds. Joined by twenty other motivated volunteers, they thought about meet ups, debates, outings and other initiatives to introduce greenery and a balanced way of life in Badaro. Eat healthier, more local, limit and sort waste, travel with less pollution, those are some of the problematics they looked into to create a new neighbourhood dynamic. Their fresh products market became their first viable project. After a series of pilot markets which took place in a parking lot, the initiative gained traction and moved to the courtyard of Saint Sauveur school. Those wishing to subscribe to exhibit their product can first send an email to the group, then visit the market to discover the easy-going atmosphere and meet other participants before embarking on the adventure. Among the warm saj manouchehs, Tina’s stand which serves Ethiopian specialties, and artisanal beers from Brew microbrewery, children’s gardening courses and conferences held each Sunday by a different NGO, it now feels good to walk the streets of Badaro.  

Article originally published in L’Officiel Levant, October-November 2018 Issue