Vegetables are sprouting in the desert at the Sahara Forest Project’s recently inaugurated launch station in Aqaba, Jordan. The project draws on the sun, saltwater, and carbon dioxide to grow food and generate clean energy and freshwater. The new three-hectare launch station will be able to grow around 286,600 pounds of vegetables a year, and produce over 2.5 gallons of water a day.

The Sahara Forest Project is centered around the core technologies of saltwater-cooled greenhouses, concentrated solar power, and desert revegetation practices. They’ll pave the way for larger facilities at the Aqaba launch station, which already boasts thriving greenery. The station is around the size of four football fields, and includes two greenhouses with a total of 14,531 square feet of growing space. There’s also 34,445 square feet of outdoor planting space.

Photovoltaic panels will generate solar power at the station, and there are salt ponds to produce salt. Another benefit of the project is job creation; the Sahara Forest Project aims to fight poverty and promote development through green jobs.

The Norwegian government and European Union are the two biggest donors to the project. Norway Minister of Climate and Environment Vidar Helgesen said, “The Sahara Forest Project demonstrates that innovative application of technology has the potential to revolutionize our land systems in a way that benefits the climate, people, and businesses.”

The Sahara Forest Project has completed a pilot in Qatar and are working on a facility in Tunisia that, as of last year, was set to open in 2018. Ultimately, the organization aims to open a 20-hectare Jordan Center, so they consider the launch station as just the beginning. Sahara Forest Project Chief Executive Officer Joakim Hauge said in the near future, Jordan could be a hub of green growth systems. (inhabitat via the Sahara Forest Project)