Hadiqaa is helping gardeners grow green spaces in the challenging environment of Qatar and in the region.

Qatar is home to many initiatives, projects and organisations focusing on sustainability, pushing the country’s vision to become more green, sustainable and environmentally-friendly.

With a vision to help every home in Qatar and the Middle East to have a sustainable garden, Hadiqaa helps gardeners share knowledge about gardening in the challenging environment in the region.

Originally, the concept of Hadiqaa started in 2017 as a Facebook group, which today has more than 8,000 members with thousands of interactions a week. This inspired the team members of Hadiqaa to take that knowledge and experience, and help every home in the country to have a sustainable garden producing fruits and veggies by providing online workshops, services and programmes.

Hadiqaa is founded by Vicky Damalou and Sara Khorasani. ‘During the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, I founded the facebook group, Gardening Club-Qatar, and reached out to Vicky, sparking the idea of creating a gardening website. I started the group in 2017, dedicated to navigating the challenges of gardening in the Middle East. We saw an opportunity to channel this knowledge into fostering sustainable gardens across the region,’ said Khorasani.

Left to right: Vicky with part time instructors Sana, Aanchal and Tapaswi

In 2020, Hadiqaa transformed from Facebook group to a green space that manages and operates out of the Education City Microfarm with more than 50 community garden beds, and a 10 bed accessible covered teaching space. All of their workshops happen in this space unless requested by a client/school to carry out events in their own space.

‘Founded in 2020, Hadiqaa serves as a nurturing hub for fostering connections between people and nature. Based in Qatar, our organisation operates from the Education City Micro Farm to everywhere in Qatar,’ said Damalou.

‘Hadiqaa started from our personal passions and a shared vision for a more sustainable future. We also noticed the limited support for gardening enthusiasts. Observing numerous enquiries within our gardening community, we realised there was a gap in accessible guidance, especially considering the climate challenges. Many faced difficulties in keeping their plants alive without adequate resources or information. Our mission became clear – to share the knowledge and support that empowers youths, individuals and communities on their gardening journey in Qatar,’ she added.


The programmes

 

Hadiqaa specialises in a variety of educational and experiential initiatives:

  • Community engagement: Collaborative projects and events that bring communities together, fostering a sense of belonging and environmental stewardship.
  • School programmes: Tailored workshops designed to seamlessly integrate with the school curriculum, enhancing students’ understanding of nature through practical learning.
  • Ability-friendly programmes: Inclusive workshops designed to ensure everyone can actively participate and enjoy the wonders of gardening.
  • Workshops for individuals: Engaging sessions for gardening enthusiasts of all ages, fostering a deeper connection with nature.
  • Team building events: Unique outdoor experiences that encourage teamwork, communication, and problem-solving skills among participants.
  • Online courses: Accessible, interactive online courses designed to provide comprehensive gardening knowledge from the comfort of one’s home.

Community garden beds

One of the best programmes of Hadiqaa is the community garden beds, which can be rented for QAR50 per month and that allow an individual, group, school or organisation to grow what they wish to grow and decorate the bed as they please. ‘Community gardens exist in many countries all over the world. We already had an established online community, so with the generous support of Education City and Agrico donating the first 10 raised garden beds, our journey began,’ said Khorasani. ‘Today, the Education City community garden thrives with over 50 beds, nurtured by a community of volunteers and members including individuals, families and corporates sharing responsibilities, knowledge and plants,’ said Damalou. In addition to the EC Microfarm, they manage and support multiple other spaces including in The Pearl Island and The Gate Mall.

‘Expanding on this concept, we’ve replicated the initiative at The Gate Mall, tailoring it for corporate tenants as a CSR initiative, team-building activity, and networking opportunity. We hope to be able to connect more communities by creating more green spaces in urban Doha,’ they added.

The gardens have seen various produce including fruits and vegetables such as cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelon, pumpkins and more, as well as cottons. ‘If you follow the community garden pages, you will see beautiful photos of members growing all sorts of fruits and vegetables, like watermelon and even cotton in Qatar. That’s always so amazing to see, when the general perception is that Qatar is a desert and growing produce is hard or impossible. It’s definitely not impossible and we love seeing that notion proven wrong everyday,’ said Damalou.

In the four years they’ve been operating, Hadiqaa has developed a unique community online and with its space. ‘We have worked with kids of all ages and abilities through collaborating with schools and our little garden academy reinforcing education as an extension of the traditional classroom and building on essential life skills. We’ve also partnered with schools to facilitate the activation of gardens and greenhouses,’ said Damalou.

However, with gardening in the hot and dry climate of Qatar and the region, there are challenges. ‘Our primary challenges include managing weather-related uncertainties and the seasonal nature of our business. We work to operate in a sustainable and cost-effective manner, ensuring affordability and accessibility for everyone while meeting the demands of running a registered business. We are fortunate to receive support from valuable partners such as QF, Sustainability Week, and sponsors like Agrico, Seashore and Gulf Warehousing Company (GWC), which greatly aids our mission,’ said Damalou.

So how can people sustain healthy gardens during Qatar’s hot summer? Damalou and Khorasani tips are as follows:

In general, to simplify things when people start gardening, there is a methodology:

  1. Choose wisely: Opt for plants that are low-maintenance, medium-sized, and budget-friendly.
  2. Learn and understand: Invest time in understanding the specific needs of your chosen plants, such as light, water, soil, and temperature requirements. Knowledge makes caring for them easier.
  3. Evaluate your space: Assess the environmental conditions of your space – Is it too sunny, dark, windy, or air-conditioned? Once aware of your plants’ needs from step two, find a suitable spot for them.
  4. Consistent maintenance: Regularly attend to your plants by watering, fertilising, repotting, and pruning. Consistent observation and care are key to ensuring their flourishing growth.

‘First of all, make peace with the fact that you might kill a plant, but don’t let that discourage you! Then, be patient and consistent and do not neglect the garden during the summer. Abandoning the garden during the summer means leaving the soil microorganisms to die, due to the heat and lack of water,’ they said.

‘Gardening is therapeutic, it is great for the environment, and it makes Qatar more sustainable! Turn those gardens, balconies, roofs into green spaces. If you don’t have outdoor space, or even big windows, use grow lights to grow an indoor garden. And do it with your kids!’ they added.

For more information on Hadiqaa, visit hadiqaa.com


Author: Ola Diab

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