How sacks and willows can help to combat desertification and hunger

Photo credit: VVORK

“Hanging Garden”, 2008-09 by Mona Hatoum.


Interested in food production in arid regions ?

Interested in combating desertification ?

You want to alleviate hunger and malnutrition ?


Click here: Food Wall

The numerous advantages of s​ack gardening and growing drought-tolerant Navajo willows (see below) have been described earlier in postings on my desertification blog. We suggested to combine both methods/techniques (sacks and live trees) in order to solve a number of classical problems: drought, limited quantity of irrigation water, heat, UV-radiation, etc, killing a number of birds with one stone. Mona HATOUM’s splendid artwork and the positive news about gardening people in Nairobi, combating hunger, malnutrition and poverty with “s​ack gardening”​, brought me to the idea that it must be possible to build a vertical vegetable garden as a F​ood Wall of stacked burlap (jute) sacks, filled with a mixture of dirt (or potting soil) and manure. Maybe adding a water absorbent soil conditioner (if cost is not a limiting factor!) can enhance the water retention capacity in the sacks.


Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.