Video: Dubai Sustainable City resident sets himself a unique challenge

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Phil Dunn, a resident of The Sustainable City in Dubai, has resolved to sustain himself fully on food sourced inside the City for a full year.
Image Credit: DRNeeley

Dubai: A Canadian expat living in Dubai, who has set a challenging New Year resolution for himself, is on track so far. Phil Dunn, a resident of The Sustainable City in Dubai, has resolved to sustain himself fully on food sourced inside the City for a full year.

The Sustainable City has a dedicated greenhouse — created as an urban environment with produce varying from fruits, vegetables, herbs — all for the benefit of its residents.

Dunn, a Canadian landscape architect by profession, conceived the challenge during movment restrictions in the UAE. He had also designed the Sustainable City and created a productive landscape within the residential community. And so he decided to put the landscape which he created on his own to test.

He had started practising his New Year resolve from November 10 onwards — a day after his 49th birthday. “I hope to welcome my 50th next year with a successful challenge, one that will leave in better health too.”

Dunn said: “I will be eating from the community garden with the food that I am growing in pots. I will be eating from the greater landscape of The Sustainable City. Here we have Maringa, dates, figs, lemons, chikoo, a variety of vegetables. We also have an aquaponics system in the community that has a variety of fish and plants. Basically it is a system with a combination of fish and plants where fish excrete in the water thereby producing nutrients in the water and the plants uptake on. So it is symbiotic relationship between the fish and plants. I eat fish once a week from this system.”

Besides, through the year, Dunn will grow his own fruits and vegetables such as onions, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes and herbs in community garden plots. Free-range chickens in the community will provide him with eggs.

Dunn said some essentials like carbohydrates (rice, flour, bread), pulses, cooking oil, sugar salt will not be available in the community, so he has come up with a barter system to trade with neighbours and get these items.

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Dunn is using scrap wood to build farming tools, which he barters for the missing elements in his food basket.
Image Credit: Supplied

“These missing elements in my food basket will come from a circular economic Dunnosophy. Basically I have been collecting scrap wood left over from construction works. I have turned them into urban farming tools which residents can use for their personal purposes. In return they will give me my missing food elements. So effectively there is no money exchange involved to source this food supply.”

Dunn added: “Whilst this has been a great idea to come up with, I cannot do this on my own. I need people to help me out here and that is what makes this project even more special. The pandemic has taught me many things. First, the future is not in our hands, and when things feel like they are slipping away from us — that is when you need pull up your socks and think sustainable. The pandemic brought to light the need for food security and the way we can feel secure about our food is if we conserve and try to survive on home-grown produce. I hope that more people will learn from the campaign and we learn to live a bit more sustainable.”

Sustainable mix

“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. The challenge of 365 days of eating only food grown in The Sustainable City (TSC) was one that I thought can keep me wilfully striving, and just possible enough to perhaps, be completed.”

Dunn said his year-long resolution is being monitored by The Chiron Clinic located in the community. “The clinic will be tracking my health throughout the year at regular intervals to ensure any nutritional issues are identified and addressed.”

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