for the

Smooth Handfish



  • Ben Rivers

Postcard from Sinai

Regenerative agriculture and a return to ancient agricultural practices is growing around the world. Ben Rivers offers this post from the mountains in Sinai.

High in the Sinai Mountains more than 1,800 meters above sea level, are countless gardens. Wedged in gullies and fed by natural springs, the Jabeliya Bedouin have been tending them for hundreds of years, growing a wide range of fruits and vegetables including some that are not found in other parts of Egypt. The mountains also contain many medicinal plants endemic to the area.

These remote gardens serve as a kind of mirror, reflecting the same forces that shape life elsewhere on our planet. Over the last decade, global heating has affected rainfall, which here in the Sinai has resulted in lowered harvests and has forced some families to abandon their land. Although freak floods have recently rehydrated the landscape, these same floods have caused extreme damage to buildings, walls and wells. Lockdowns and travel restrictions due to COVID-19 have crippled the local economy (largely dependent on tourism) but have compelled many people to return to their lands and their traditional ecological practices. In doing so, the extra attention they’ve given to the gardens is clearly visible.

Growing global appreciation of regenerative agriculture is also having an impact here. Initiatives like Sinaweya are actively engaged in conserving the heritage gardens and traditional knowledge of the local Bedouin people, helping to ensure food sovereignty and the continuation of important ecological values and agricultural methods. Images and words: Ben Rivers