In the crowded Jerash refugee camp, hydroponic horticulture allows residents to grow their own crops efficiently in an arid country – and provides a stateless people with an income.

Idris Abu Saleh has gotten used to being known as the chemist who grows the best onions. Unable to find any work after graduation, now, aged 23, he is supporting his family of eight from his homemade hydroponic greenhouse in a refugee camp in northern Jordan.

“People keep commenting on me being the pharmacist who sells onions,” said Abu Saleh. “But I try not to let that bother me – it’s a job.” Abu Saleh grows his crops in water rather than soil. Inside his greenhouse, the air is humid as nutrient-rich water passes through rows of red lettuce, strawberries, and thyme before returning to an irrigation tank.

A resident of Jerash, the most impoverished of Jordan’s 10 UN-registered camps for Palestinian refugees, Abu Saleh had few opportunities available.

“I cultivate roughly 70kg of onions and 20kg of red lettuce every 40 days,” he says, walking through his neatly arranged 32 sq meter rooftop greenhouse. The income he makes – about £166 with each crop cycle – is enough to support his family.

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