Source: Middle East Institute
Author(s): Louise Sarant
On the rooftop of a three-story brick building tucked inside a dusty alley of ‘Izbat al-Nasr, a poor and informal neighborhood southeast of Cairo, Leila Hussein crouches, tending to the basil and rocket she grows. The incessant cackling of geese, chickens, and pigeons emanating from the roof of a similarly run-down, red brick structure opposite the street gives an eerie, rural soundtrack to her meticulous work.
The middle-aged woman is a pioneer in soilless rooftop gardening in her neighborhood. Every morning at dawn, she climbs the staircase to the roof, lifts the nets protecting her crops from the unwanted greediness of street rats and birds, checks the water quality, lifts the cups and checks the roots of her greens that float in water, and adds fertilizer if needed. At night, she goes back for final checks of her hydroponics tables and replaces the net, wary of further night attacks….
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