American Univesity of Beirut

ESDU Journal

​Letter of Gratitude | August 2020

Ever since the catastrophic explosion transformed Beirut forever and sent shock waves around the world on August 4th, ESDU and FHF have been hard at work in the Akleh community kitchen in Beirut and the kitchen of Khayrat Bekaana Coop in El Khiara – West Bekaa to provide hot meals to the victims of the blast through our “Cooking For Beirut" emergency relief effort under the Ardi Ardak initiative.

Our work would not have been possible without the kindness and generosity of our partners, donors, chefs and dedicated volunteers who have supported and sustained our efforts during these tiring times. Over the last three weeks with the help of 39 volunteers and 26 ESDU and FHF team member volunteers, we cooked and delivered 3,002 hot meals, and received 17,819,420 LBP along with numerous in-kind donations which included vegetables and other cooking ingredients from The Green Van, Mada Association and many other generous individuals.

While our team was handling cooking and packaging in the kitchens, distribution was done in collaboration with different partners including the Lebanese Food Bank and the Center for Civic Engagement in AUB.

Due to the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown and to ensure the safety of our team and volunteers, we will be transitioning into a new phase of our relief work. After discussions with the partners who are working on the ground directly with the affected families, we have decided to put the production of hot meals on hold and provide mouneh boxes instead to displaced citizens who are able to cook in their kitchens or in temporary shelters.

Committed to contributing to the revival of the local economy and maintaining food security, we will ensure the donations we receive are used to procure the content of the mouneh boxes from small local farmers and producers, local SMEs and coops in rural areas.

Although “thank you" doesn't encapsulate the extent of our gratitude, we would like to acknowledge and express our appreciation to the following beautiful souls that have helped us stay cooking and aid those in need during this crisis:

Partners: Environment and Sustainable Development Unit in AUB, Food Heritage Foundation, Lebanese League for Women in Business , Lebanese Food Bank, Khayrat Bekaana Coop, Zico House, Le Passport Culinaire, Akleh Community Kitchen

ESDU Volunteers: Afif Wehbe, Angy Keirouz, Camille Cesbron, Cynthia Kreidy, Danny Mansour, Gaelle Abboud, Ghida El Dirany, Haidar Sleiman, Hind Naim, Ingrid Abou Zeid, Juliette Amidi, Lamisse Khairallah, Lea Salameh, Mabelle Chedid, Marwa Soubra, Mohamed Dbeibo, Nadim Rawda, Nicolas Gholam, Patricia Kebbe, Petra Chedid, Rebecca Khoury, Sarah Karam, Yara Sleiman, Yasmina Olabi, Zuhair and Camilla Zeineddine

Community Volunteers: Chef Fares Naddaf, Chef Hassan Hamoud, Chef Jean Richa, Chef Joseph Khoury, Chef Khaled Succarieh, Chef Nawal Aoun, Chef Wael Harrouz

Afaf Rachkidi, Ahmad Al Khalidi, Alexandra Mikhael, Arsha Mazloum, Christelle Mattar, Corinne Eid, Dima Ghaddar, Hussein Al Khalidi, Jessica Bou Tanious, Joey Ragheb, Joumana El Khechen, Karim El Husseini, Layal Sasso, Mariane Abu Jawde, Marie-Lynn Issa, Marielou Kreidy, Marwa El Kechen, Maurice Riachy, Maya Sabbah, Michelle Daou, Mira El Hassan, Mirna Hobeika, Mona Tarboush, Nadim Hamade, Najla Haidar, Nesmat Hammoud, Nour El Hassan, Reem Fawaz, Reine Habchy, Rihab Younis, Rima Kahwaji, Roy Lteif, Sandra Abboud Daher, Sawsan Kassem, Stephanie Gabriel, Yara Hamad, Yara Hammoud, Yasmine El Hajj, Youmna Iskandarani, Zahi Turk, Zeinab Abbas​.

With love and gratitude,                    

The ESDU and FHF team​

​Cooking for Beirut | Emergency Relief - Beirut Explosion | August 2020


In response to the catastrophic explosion on August 4, 2020 which decimated Beirut and shook the world, ESDU and  Food Heritage Foundation team has set up Cooking for Beirut, an emergency relief effort in the framework of Ardi Ardak initiative to feed the city's most vulnerable victims of the tragedy.

The team is cooking and distributing meals on a daily basis from our community kitchens Akleh in Zico House and from the kitchen of Khayrat Bekaena Coop in Khiara village in West Bekaa. For the last weeks, we have been delivering up to 300 meals on a daily basis to families in need and we expect to grow our output.

To sustain our work, we rely on the help of our community. We have been receiving overwhelming support from volunteers and chefs. If you would like to volunteer your time, you can contribute with cash and in kind donations – offering your time to help us cook, package and distribute food.

To volunteer please contact: +961 70 156 866

Donations Hotline: +961 3 234 008

 Bank Transfer Details

Name of Bank: Byblos Bank

​Account Name: Food Heritage Foundation

Local Transfers in LBP: IBAN LB36 0039 0000 0003 3532 2531 7001

Local Transfers in USD: IBAN LB36 0039 0000 0003 3532 2531 7003

International Transfers in USD: IBAN LB68 0039 0000 0003 3532 2531 7007

International Transfers in EUR: IBAN LB41 0039 0000 0003 3532 2531 7008

Swift Code: BYBALBBX​​​​​

​​Dr. Mabelle Chedid participates in the Agricultural Panel Discussion Zareit Albna | July 2020​​

The panel discussion on agriculture hosted by Open Ideo Beirut Chapter on July 28 was enlightening. Dr. Mabelle Chedid spoke at the event and highlighted the importance of the local food system, consumption and production. We learned that an agricultural strategy with a production calendar is essential to organize food production in Lebanon. This would enable the local market to reach saturation and allow for more importation. The session concluded on an optimistic note, as Dr. Chedid revealed that she considers the skyrocketing prices of imported pesticides, which became unaffordable for local farmers is a great opportunity to adopt organic agricultural practices.​​

MedSNAIL project progresses in time of COVID-19: first desk reviews by the partners on the state-of-the-art of sustainable agrofood systems in the Mediterranean | May 2020

At present, MedSNAIL is at the stage of mapping products (raw materials, animal breeds, processed products, traditional techniques, recipes) that are present in the area of intervention, these products can fit to the presidia of slow food or the arc of taste, traditional products which are anchored in the culture & agriculture of the area of intervention. The first phase of this mapping includes desk reviews by all partners aimed at analyzing the target contexts and first approachment to stakeholders in the territories. Preliminary diagnosis have been made by every partner and since the COVID-19 health crisis is undoubtedly having an important impact on the normal development of the project. A rethought of the project’s work plan occurred for the next months, and a series of bilateral virtual meetings for Slow Food Foundation and the project’s partners. AUB has already identified the territories of intervention of the project: West Bekaa and Shouf, Their motivations for this choice are in line with the philosophy and values that the project wants to promote.  It highlights the history and origins of food products and traditional dishes and focus on the cultural and emotional ties that people hold to the West Bekaa and Shouf areas.

Ardi Ardak Updates | June 2020

ESDU in collaboration with its partners Food Heritage Foundations, Lebanese League for Women in Business and Zico House under Ardi Ardak initiative and in collaboration with other national campaigns and the contribution of the generous donors distributed 675 Food Parcels to families in need, and 87,000 seedlings and 12,000 seeds bags to small scale farmers in various villages and cities all over Lebanon since the beginning of the crisis in March 2020. ESDU has been always committed to support the livelihood of the local communities, and to aid both the beneficiaries and the suppliers; the food items were procured from various suppliers including over 20 cooperatives, community kitchens and small scale local producers benefiting at least 35 vulnerable local families. The Food parcels & seedlings truck visited many villages and cities in Lebanon, such as West Bekaa, Baalbeck, Arsal, Beirut, Tripoli, Akkar and Chouf …

The seeds & seedlings distribution included different varieties such as tomato, cucumber, eggplant, okra, zucchini, spinach, parsley etc. All seeds are local and are open-pollination varieties, provided by different local suppliers/organizations such as Buzuruna Juzuruna farm in Beqaa, that preserves heirloom varieties and grows seeds following organic farming practices. Seedlings are provided by various suppliers/organizations including Cooperation Without Borders, small-scale nurseries, women-led start-ups, and nurseries led by young agricultural engineers.

Ardi Ardak activities weren't exclusive to distributions, ESDU team is working closely with the land owners to assess their lands and provide them with sustainable production plans and in-kind support when available. So far 42 assessment applications were submitted and 3 lands were assessed and supported, the numbers are expected to rise in the near future. Educational videos are being prepared to provide the technical support to new farmers and a hotline was initiated to answer all agriculture related questions and inquiries.

ESDU and Ardi Ardak Initiative also has teamed up with Nadine Labaki and several other sustainable Agricultural initiatives to launch the Zarriet Albi campaign. The national campaign was announced by a song and video clip directed by Nadine Labaki and starred by various Lebanese celebrities calling citizens to grow seeds and vegetables in their homes or their lands. As well Ardi Ardak partnered in other campaigns such as Samidoun campaign for Aljadeed TV and Mission 470 project launched Ali Ghandour Center for Leadership Diversity and Civic Engagement at the International College.

All of this has happened thanks to the contribution of the generous donors and to the hard work of the Ardi Ardak team members either from home or in the field.

Your contribution will save lives! Please donate, click here.


CLIMAT wins the Khalifa International Award for Date Palm and Agricultural Innovation 2020 in Abu Dhabi​ | April 2020​​

At its twelfth session, the Khalifa International Date Palm and Agricultural Innovation Award in Abu Dhabi announced five winners out of 141 candidates representing 28 countries around the world who received 3.5 Million Dirham. The Climate Smart Livelihoods Initiative and Market Access Tailoring “CLIMAT" project won. CLIMAT is a one-year Food For Training project implemented during 2019 in Northeast Baalbeck and West Bekaa Lebanon, funded by the German Cooperation through the World Food Program. It was managed by the Environment and Sustainable Development Unit ESDU at the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences at the American University of Beirut AUB in partnership with Cooperation without Borders CWB. CLIMAT aimed to sustainably improve the skills, capacities and livelihood opportunities of vulnerable Lebanese and Syrian refugees in the targeted regions through enhancing the capabilities of women, youth and farmers on sustainable agricultural practices and food processing, in addition to providing the necessary tools and creating marketing links. 

Read more..

Home Gardening - Video | April 2020

Home gardening and urban agriculture are much needed to support the national food security in these rough times that our country is going through. These are very convenient space saving domestic solution as you can plant your vegetables and fruits on the balcony or on the roof of your building, and sustain your organic food intake all over the year. The urban agriculture has low water consumption, it helps to isolate heat in summer and it adds a beautiful warming greenery decor to your home.
This video is a collaboration between Environment and Sustainable Development Unit and Farah Social Foundation. It will teach you how to plant, grow and take care of the cherry tomatoes, hoping that you will try to implement it at home. We are happy to receive all your questions and inquiries. Watch video.​

MedSNAIL | 1st Newsletter​​​​ | Marc​h 2020

Environment & Sustainable Development Unit -ESDU  in collaboration with  the Department of Landscape Design and Ecosystem Management -LDEM at the Faculty of Agricultural & Food Sciences at AUB are partnering on the execution of the  MedSNAIL Project in Lebanon , a project on sustainable agro-food funded by the EU, through the ENI CBC MED Program.
We are happy to share with you the first new​sletter​​ of MedSNAIL, We hope you enjoy it!.





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