A lawyer by profession, Bernadette’s adventure in desert farming began 10 years ago when she and
her husband, Redha, bought a virgin plot of land in Oman’s desert borderlands at the south-eastern
tip of the Arabian Peninsula.
The challenges of creating a livable habitat in an extreme climate meant that their original plan to
build a small weekend retreat with a pool and a few date palms evolved quickly. A deep dive into
agroforestry and permaculture followed. With zero farming experience, the learning curve was
Today, at Lizq Oasis, Bernadette and husband Redha farm a diverse 15-acre plantation of date and
coconut palms, fruit trees, perennial crops such as aloe vera and lemongrass and a variety of native
and drought-adapted support trees as well as a grove of endangered boswellia sacra (frankincense)
Their aim is to demonstrate that, even on marginal land, a diverse food forest can supply abundant
pesticide-free food, build healthy soil, and mitigate the worst effects of a harsh climates by shading
and cooling the land and increasing water capture. Their practices include alley-planting, no-till,
composting, large-scale mulching, and use of green and animal manures from their 21-strong herd of
goats and growing flock of hens, to build organic matter in the soil, fertility, improve water capture
and percolation, and create habitat for all manner of birds and small creatures.
They hope to inspire the community to grow their own food and motivate young Omanis to adopt
regenerative farming practices that replicate and preserve traditional Omani oasis agriculture, a
5000-year old system of food forest perfectly adapted to the desert environment but that is
currently in decline.
Learn more at the website
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