Sustainable Environment In The UAE

The Sustainable Human Project

Meet Phil Dunn – the Dubai resident living off the land, and his wits alone, to highlight food security in one of the world’s most extravagant cities.

We all take the food on our plates and in our fridges for granted. The fact that we can just go to the supermarket and pick up a piece of fruit from the other side of the world, tuck into a steak cut from a cow born and raised on a different continent if we feel like it, or order our dinner online at the touch of a button highlights the incredible privilege we have all become so accustomed to. But imagine growing or nurturing absolutely everything you eat – not just for a day, but for an entire year? That’s exactly what Dubai’s Phil Dunn is doing as part of a fascinating experiment to highlight the ever-growing issues of food security in the region – a subject high on government agendas across the world in the continuing battle against climate change.

A Canadian landscape architect responsible for the design and construction of the urban landscape in The Sustainable City, Dubai – the Middle East’s first fully-operational sustainable community – as the city went into Covid-19-induced lockdown in 2020, and issues of food security were highlighted, Phil came up with the idea of sustaining himself fully on food sourced exclusively inside his home community of The Sustainable City for a full year.

Deciding to put the very landscape he created to the test, Phil’s mission was to ascertain what it takes to eat produce solely sourced from within his neighbourhood’s urban environment, with the support of other residents.

The Sustainable Human Project’s Phil Dunn

“The Sustainable Human Project was conceived as a mixture of a personal challenge and an outward commitment to explore, educate, and engage with the important concepts of food security in the time of a pandemic, and a social sustainability ideal of how growing food together might also ‘grow’ a community’, explained Phil. ‘The challenge of only eating food grown in The Sustainable City for 365 days was one that I thought was crazy enough to keep me wilfully striving, and just possible enough to perhaps, be completed.”

Far from a concept that came out of the blue, the project was something Phil had thought about doing for some time. “I’ve lived in The Sustainable City for five years, and I’d been thinking about doing something like this as I watched the landscape grow around me. When we were forced into lockdown, and food security both globally and locally became a focus as the pandemic unfolded, it felt like the right time to start’, says Phil, who moved to the UAE in 2015. “What we were seeing across the world in the disruption to the food chain highlighted just how vulnerable we were here in the UAE, since around 80 percent of what we buy in the supermarkets is imported produce. So it really was the perfect time for me to stop thinking about starting this project, and actually start the project.”

Now ten weeks into his 365 day experiment, Phil began The Sustainable Human Project on November 10, 2020.

“I started it the day after my birthday, which is November 9. That was part of the personal aspect of this project – I was looking for something revolutionary to do as I approached my 50th year”, says Phil. And how is he finding it so far? “Honestly, it’s been really challenging!’ he laughs. ‘I started it from scratch. I didn’t really have anything in place, even though I’d been thinking about it for a while. But I just said to myself ‘OK Phil, you’re going to do this now. Today’. So I did!”

Despite the challenges he faced by starting without any real planning, Phil is happy with how he kicked off the project.

“It was tough to get the ball rolling, but I wanted to do it that way. I wanted to do it how an average person would, just taking it on without any notice,’ he says. ‘I already had a few things that had survived the summer left in my garden– eggplants, some sweet potatoes, cherry tomatoes, and a couple of other things, but it really wasn’t a lot. I’ve had to create a lot of infrastructure to support the project, and I realized that there was no way I was going to be able to do this all by myself. So I’ve had to rally a few people around to help me out, but people have been so happy help me, which has been great.”

The rules in place for The Sustainable Human Project are simple: Phil grows fruits and vegetables like onions, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes and herbs in community garden plots; free-range chickens provide him with eggs, and he can catch fish from a small fish farm inside one of the community bio-domes. The missing elements in the food basket come from a circular economic philosophy where Phil repurposes scrap wood from construction into urban farming tools to be used in bartering with other Sustainable City residents in exchange for items like grains, rice, proteins and oils. And socialising hasn’t been forgotten about. If Phil is invited for dinner, the caveat for accepting the invitation is that he will use the opportunity to spread the word about the amazing cultural diversity of over 80 different nationalities currently living in The Sustainable City. 

With the support of a handful of residents at the start of the project, Phil quickly discovered that there were many more facets to what he was undertaking than he first envisaged. “These first few weeks have already been a huge learning process. At the beginning, I thought this project would be about urban farming and the environment, but I’ve realised how much of it is actually about the social element of sustainability’, reveals Phil. ‘It’s been really great when people find out about what I’m doing – they come and drop off little secret care packages, and I’ve had all sorts of neat stuff being delivered to me, like banana cake or cookies that my neighbours have baked. But people have been really receptive to one of the rules I put in place, which is that if I can’t find what I need in The Sustainable City, then I’ll barter or trade something for it. People are really up for it, so I take scraps of wood that I find around the city, and build things for community gardening or urban farming like little planter boxes and that kind of stuff. And then I’d say to a neighbour  ‘I need rice and olive oil – would you trade with me for this wooden planter box I built? People have loved that concept, and been really receptive. I call it filling in the holes of my food basket.” 

Now getting used to the intricacies of the project, Phil is constantly having to think how – and where – his next meal is coming from. “It does actually feel like I’ve gone back in time. I want to say a much simpler time, but the rules of the project do add another layer of complexity to modern day living because you have to plan so far in advance – like I have to plan what I’m going to eat next week today, at the very least’, he says. ‘In some of my planning, I’ve had to figure out what I’m going to eat in the summertime, how I’m going to deal with it when the weather gets hot, and where I’m going to get my food from.”

As a part of that planning, Phil is relying upon the support of his neighbours. “One of the things I’ve realised is that years ago, in those simpler times, your word was your bond. So if you promised something to someone, that was an agreement, and if one of those people broke the agreement, it was a big deal. It’s sort of like that now when I’m bartering with someone. If I make a plan that I’m going to trade with that person for a certain thing, I go ahead and make my end of the deal and plan that what I’m getting from them is what I’m going to have for dinner next week. If that falls through, its not a life and death thing like it was in the olden days, but it’s a significant hit to my planning.”

Describing himself as “a carnivore of note” before the project began, Phil’s current diet is vastly different from what it was. “I had a terrible diet before I started this, so it’s really been a big change’, he explains. ‘Honestly, my average day food-wise right now is pretty boring. Lately it’s consisted of eggplant, sweet potatoes, cherry tomatoes, mustard greens and chives for dinner, I have salad for lunch, and for breakfast I have a mix of lime and moringa juice. The Moringa is a tree that grows here, and the leaves and pods are super-nutritious, its like a superfood –  the stats are that it has more vitamin C than 20 oranges or something. It took a while to figure out what to do with it, but we discovered that you soak the leaves overnight in water, you get this juice. You have to get used to it, because it tastes very earthy, but I’ll have a litre of that for breakfast. People have also been very kind, and I’ve had more than a few meals dropped off to me from some of the residents here. I think they feel sorry for me!”

Such a dramatic change in Phil’s eating habits have had an obvious effect on his body. “I have lost some weight – that’s a happy byproduct of this whole project,’ laughs Phil. But his health and wellbeing are a priority, so the entire process is being monitored by The  Sustainable City’s Chiron Clinic, who completed baseline medical tests before the challenge and are tracking Phil’s health at regular intervals to ensure any nutritional issues are identified and addressed. 

“I did suffer, energy-wise, at the beginning’, admits Phil. ‘There was definitely something of a transition, from what my wife – who is a naturopathic physician – would say was an unhealthy lifestyle, to something more like her diet, that was almost entirely vegetable-based. The first couple of weeks had a really big impact – I felt like I was on a detox, with headaches and some nausea, so there was definitely a physical transformation going on. But that was absolutely for the better, because it’s the way I want to eat in the future, and after the first five days or so, I felt great. I do feel healthier, and at the same time I’ve been concerned about Covid-19 and all of those things, I feel that I have taken control of my health in a preventative way as well, which is a pretty good feeling.” 

Aside from feeling healthier by increasing his intake of fruit and vegetables, Phil’s carnivorous past may not be a part of his more considered future. “I really do understand the impact – especially now – of what eating meat has on the planet’, says Phil. ‘There’s an aquaponic system here in The Sustainable City which has fish and plants that have a synergistic relationship together. We went to get the fish tested to see if they were OK to eat, and they were fine, so I was able to get fish from the tank if I wanted it. But over the last 2 months, I’ve only been able to eat five fish from there because I just feel so guilty. When you have to go and catch and process them yourself, it’s much different to when you go to a grocery store and just pick it off of the shelf as this nameless, faceless slab of meat. But when you have to go through the whole system of making it into your dinner, it really makes you realise you want to become a vegetarian much faster.”

With the heart of the 365 day project centred around locally-produced food, Phil hopes to reduce his carbon footprint by eating local and supporting and discovering the different avenues of local produce available to us. “The goal is to raise awareness about community gardening from a social aspect, to grow a community by growing together, as well as teaching people about food security and how growing food locally is such an important thing to do for our nation and the environment’ explains Phil. ‘We’re actually so luckily here in the UAE that there are so many organic and local farms that are starting to pop up, offering locally-produced food to the community because that simply wasn’t the case previously. It seems that new businesses like these are appearing all the time, which is fantastic, and we must support them to help nourish and develop the local produce market as much as we can.”

As Phil heads towards his third month as a sustainable human, despite starting the project as something of a personal goal, he would like to encourage others to join him, and start thinking about food in a more sustainably-minded way. “People certainly don’t think about urban farming and growing their own food when they think of Dubai’, laughs Phil. ’I’d love to get the momentum built around this project – I now have all the infrastructure in place and ticking along nicely, and I think it would be a great thing to share that knowledge and the lessons I’ve learned.”

With the hope of encouraging others to think local with their food choices, Phil’s mission is to educate the region about the benefits of eating sustainably, not only for their health, but for the sake of the environment and local economy too. “I’d really love other people to join me on this journey’, says Phil. ‘Aside from the health and environmental benefits, I think a big part of it is that people can create something they need, trading with another grower without any money changing hands – that’s a really neat concept in itself. But the idea of a circular economy, where something that would be waste is turned into something useful, is even more exciting. And urban dwellers are surrounded by those sorts of objects, so it’s really a great opportunity for people to experiment with the concepts of sustainability on so many levels.” 

Follow Phil on his journey @thesustainablehumanproject.


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Blooming Beauty: A Guide to the Top Florists and Flower Delivery Services in Dubai

Blooms Everywhere

Dubai is known for its luxurious lifestyle and extravagant displays of beauty. And what better way to add a touch of elegance to any occasion than with a stunning bouquet of flowers? Whether you’re looking for a romantic gesture, a thoughtful gift, or simply want to brighten up your home, Dubai has a plethora of florists and flower delivery services to choose from. The top florists and flower delivery services in Dubai, are known for their luxury flower arrangements and exotic blooms.

Why Choose a Professional Florist?

While it may be tempting to pick up a bouquet of flowers from the local grocery store, there are many benefits to choosing a professional florist. Professional florists have a deep understanding of different types of flowers, their meanings, and how to arrange them in a way that creates a stunning display. They also have access to a wider variety of flowers, including exotic blooms that may not be available at your local store. Additionally, professional florists have the skills and tools to create intricate and unique arrangements that will truly make a statement.

Luxury Flower Arrangements for Special Occasions

When it comes to special occasions, such as weddings, anniversaries, or birthdays, a professional florist can help you create a truly memorable experience with their luxury flower arrangements. These arrangements often feature high-end flowers, such as orchids, peonies, and roses, and are designed to make a statement.

Exotic Flower Arrangements for a Touch of Glamour

For those looking for something truly unique and eye-catching, exotic flower arrangements are the way to go. These arrangements often feature rare and exotic blooms, such as protea, bird of paradise, and anthurium, that are not commonly found in traditional bouquets. Professional florists have the knowledge and expertise to create stunning arrangements with these exotic flowers, adding a touch of glamour and sophistication to any occasion.

Top Florists and Flower Delivery Services in Dubai

Now that we’ve established the importance of choosing a professional florist, let’s take a look at some of the top florists and flower delivery services in Dubai.

Bliss Flower Boutique

Located in the heart of Dubai, Bliss Flower Boutique is known for its luxurious and elegant flower arrangements. Their team of skilled florists creates stunning bouquets and arrangements using high-quality flowers sourced from around the world. They offer a wide range of services, including wedding and event floral design, corporate arrangements, and flower delivery. Their luxury flower arrangements are perfect for special occasions or as a gift for a loved one.

Upscale and Posh

Upscale and Posh is a luxury flower boutique that specializes in creating unique and extravagant floral arrangements. Their team of experienced florists uses only the freshest and most beautiful flowers to create stunning displays that are sure to impress. They offer a variety of services, including wedding and event floral design, corporate arrangements, and flower delivery. Their exotic flower arrangements are perfect for those looking to add a touch of glamour to any occasion.

Black Tulip Flowers

Black Tulip Flowers is a renowned florist in Dubai, known for their exquisite and creative floral designs. Their team of talented florists creates stunning arrangements using a variety of flowers, including rare and exotic blooms. They offer a range of services, including wedding and event floral design, corporate arrangements, and flower delivery. Their luxury flower arrangements are perfect for those looking for a touch of elegance and sophistication.

Flower Station Dubai

Flower Station Dubai is a popular flower delivery service in Dubai, known for their prompt and reliable service. They offer a wide range of flowers, including luxury and exotic blooms, and provide same-day delivery for orders placed before 6 pm. Their team of skilled florists can create custom arrangements for any occasion, making them a go-to choice for many in Dubai.

Bliss Flowers and Design

Bliss Flowers and Design is a luxury flower boutique that offers a wide range of floral services, including wedding and event floral design, corporate arrangements, and flower delivery. Their team of experienced florists creates stunning arrangements using high-quality flowers sourced from around the world. They also offer a subscription service, where customers can receive a weekly or monthly delivery of fresh flowers to brighten up their home or office.

How to Choose the Right Florist for You

With so many options to choose from, it can be overwhelming to find the right florist for your needs. We’ve got some recommendations and tips to help you make the right choice:

Consider Your Budget

Before you start looking for a florist, it’s important to have a budget in mind. It’s always best to narrow down your options and ensure that you don’t overspend.

Look at Their Portfolio

When choosing a florist, it’s important to look at their portfolio to get an idea of their style and the quality of their work. Most florists will have a portfolio on their website or social media pages, so be sure to take a look before making a decision. You can ask them to send you their PDF file or photographs of their work to get a sense of their work and style.

Read Reviews

Reading reviews from previous customers absolutely gives you valuable insights into a florist’s service and the quality of their arrangements. Look for reviews on their website, google reviews, social media pages, or consumer review sites. Dubai has plenty of community websites that offer reviews and recommendations.

Consider Their Specialties

Some florists may specialize in certain types of arrangements, such as luxury or exotic flower arrangements, while others may offer a wider range of services. Some might be great at setting up flowers for a bachelorette party while another may be great at sending flowers for the new mum.

Flowers are a beautiful and timeless way to express love, gratitude, and appreciation. With the help of a professional florist, let your creative juices flow to put together stunning arrangements that will make a lasting impression. Whether you’re looking for luxury flower arrangements, exotic blooms, or reliable flower delivery services, Dubai brings you all of it!

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I choose the right florist in Dubai for a specific occasion or floral arrangement?

Consider the florist’s specialty, customer reviews, and the style of their arrangements. Some florists excel in weddings, while others are renowned for their unique bouquets. Our guide provides insights to help you make an informed choice based on your needs.

What are the advantages of using flower delivery services in Dubai and how do I ensure the freshness of the blooms upon arrival?

Flower delivery services in Dubai offer convenience and the assurance that your blooms will arrive in pristine condition. Select florists with efficient delivery systems and consider same-day delivery options for maximum freshness. Our guide highlights services that prioritize the quality and freshness of their floral arrangements.

Are these florists and flower delivery services suitable for various budgets, and do they offer customization options?

Yes, the featured florists cater to a range of budgets, and many offer customization options to suit your preferences. Whether you’re looking for an elaborate arrangement or a simpler bouquet, our guide provides details on the pricing and customization possibilities offered by each florist.


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