Chou ya3ne ?
Zaatar is a French organization based in Toulouse, France, created in 2020 to support sustainable farming and sustainable building in Lebanon.
Lebanon is sinking in one of the worst economic crisis the world has ever seen. Inflation quadrupled and the exchange rate between the Lebanese lira and the dollar, on which most of the economy relies, keeps losing value. The scenarios of collapse such as those described by Sevigne and Stevens are playing out live, not in 5, 10 or 30 years but now. Petrol is missing and its price skyrocketed, electricity is often limited to an hour a day, water is rationed, the government is highly corrupted and indebted and most infrastructures (waste and water management, electricity) are dysfunctional. How can an overpopulated country which imported 80% of the food it consumed feed its population when the currency is so devaluated ? How can the farmers who did produce food in Lebanon, contributing to food sovereignty, continue in their conventional way with a lack of fuel and the impossibility to import fertilizers, pesticides or rely on heavy machinery ? More than ever, explorations of alternative models of living and farming is essential. With half of the population living below the poverty line, supermarket emptying and families struggling to feed themselves, models that ecologists and ‘radicals’ had been defending for decades are now becoming a matter of survival. An increasing number of farmers are looking to change their practice out of necessity and the existing few projects who have been implementing agroecological approaches for the past few years are needed to support and advice farmers through these transitions. These kind of projects are for the moment very rare in Lebanon but could serve as role model to inspire farmers to reach a closed loop system and drop their dependence on external inputs (paid in dollars) that are becoming increasingly hard if not impossible to get because of the inflation. This is where Zaatar comes into play. This NGO was specifically created to develop a network of these initiatives, share and pool resources and provide financial support to self sufficient organic farms that will help heal, rather than just temporarily ‘fix’ the deep wounds of these countries. The resilience of the food system depends on them. It is through these alternative lifestyles and projects that the only hope Lebanon will rise once again resides.
Zaatar association aims to:
Support small scale sustainable farming, ecological housing and self sufficiency in Lebanon
Show the importance and value of alternative agricultural models in order to have a higher level of food sovereignty
Impact consumers by promoting a healthy and affordable diet essential given the circumstances in Lebanon
What will we do?
Economically support projects in Lebanon working on self-sufficiency to buy material, seeds and organise trainings to help small scale farmers throughout their transition
Pooling of resources to support small scale farmers: share materials like pasteuriser, wood shredder, tractor to allow farmers to adopt agro-ecological practices at a lower cost
Organise events in France (meals, screenings, workshops) on Lebanese culture to raise awareness on the challenges in Lebanon
Case study: Les Racines du Ciel
The first project Zaatar committed to support is the family run farm ‘Les Racines du Ciel’ (” The roots of the sky”’) located in the village of Lassa in the heart of the mountains of Mount Lebanon. Raed, Joanna and their two small boys, Nour and Naim started this project 7 years ago in the hope to restore soil health and biodiversity on this very special land. They use methods derived from agreocology and permaculture to market garden. They have drastically reduced the amount of tilling, abolished the use of external inputs to fertilize or treat the land, developed a practice of conservation of heirloom seeds and use mulching to restore soil health. In 7 years the effects are mind blowing. Their 3 hectares of land is filled with life in all its diversity: earthworms, birds, frogs, wild crops and flowers have returned. The soil is rich and breathing. They sell more than 100 varieties of fruits and vegetables as well as transformed products such as juice and “mouneh” in local farmers markets in Beirut which allows for 3 families to live comfortably in a self sufficient way.
How to subscribe ?
Here’s the link to subscribe to Zaatar. You can use the same link if you just want to donate without becoming a member.
Where will the money go?
You can choose to support a specific project of the association or donate and let the supported farmers decide their most urgent needs. Becoming a member through our membership will make you play a key role in our mission, get our newsletter, follow the impact of your donation, attend events and meet like minded people!
Current projects :
Help us set up a processing workshop to transform our fruits and vegetables into delicious mouneh ! : 1000$
Help us buy a solar boiler to have hot water in the workshop : 1500$
Help us buy solar panels for the farm : 3000$
Offer vouchers for vulnerable families in Beirut : 10$/voucher
Finance a goat for the farm: 300$
Help us buy a seeder to use less seeds and work better : 1000$