A First for the Old City

The Muslim Quarter is now home to very first ecological garden, literally within arms length from the 3000 year-old Old City walls. 

The garden was dedicated by Jerusalem's Mayor, Nir Barkat, and the Jerusalem Foundation's President Mark Sofer, on October 18, 2012. 

"A picture is worth a thousand words," said the Mayor at the dedication ceremony. "[This garden] creates real hope."

One can touch the walls of the Old City from this 1.5 million NIS garden which now grows vegetables, spices and beautiful fruit trees, with benches nestled among them. The garden is run and maintained by the Abna Al Quds Community Council, with assistance from young and old who tend the garden with great care.

"This garden began with a group of elderly women, who tended a patch of land next to the Old City wall," explained Nadim Sheiban, Director of Projects at the Jerusalem Foundation. "And see how we've expanded – this garden will now be used not only by the elderly women, but also for children and youth, to learn about nature and the environment. The key to its success is that residents feel it is theirs"

 

For years, the area was neglected and barren. Today it is lush and green, something unimaginable in the Old City.  On the other side of the garden stands a state of the art playground for children who waited patiently for their new equipment and jumped immediately on it the minute it was available to them. 

 

In order to ensure sustainability of the garden, the Jerusalem Foundation has secured funding for various programs including employment of counselors who will work with handicapped children and the elderly through gardening and environmental studies. 


"This is a place of opportunity, a tranquil natural setting for residents of the Old City's Muslim Quarter, something that is nearly impossible in this part of Jerusalem. For the first time in perhaps hundreds of years, butterflies can be seen here, thanks to this garden," said Sheiban. 

 

Click here to see photos.