While rockets fly overhead, Bat-Zion Benjaminson tends her garden. The religious mother of four hopes to establish an eco-village in the moshav (cooperative community) of Shokeda, which is located just six kilometers away from the border of Gaza.
According to Bat-Zion, the war being fought in the area is not just with rockets.
“This is an ecological war zone,” Benjaminson told the Jerusalem Post.
We are on the edge of the desert here and our goal is to make it recede. This is a very logical place. That is why I am here. Because it is less expensive, I can achieve sustainability quicker. We are on the cutting edge of ecological living.
Bat-Zion hopes that she and her children will be the start of an eco-village within the existing moshav. Right now Eden’s Herbs Farm, as she has named it, is tended by Bat-Zion and volunteers from abroad. They grow herbs that are native to the region as their main cash crop, as well as bananas and other cultivations–all without pesticides, of course. Chickens roam free of any chicken coop.
Water conservation is adhered to the utmost–not merely using all grey water for irrigation, but even using a waterless toilet and a shower that is open to the sky.
Before moving to Israel, Bat-Zion studied permaculture. But when she moved to Shokeda, she wasn’t necessarily bargaining for a war with Gaza. The house she and her sons live in has no shelter, and the nearest shelter is 50 meters away.
Bat-Zion comments on the war experience:
We hear and see a lot of helicopters and smoke. The windows rattle…We’ve learned to distinguish between the sound of Kassam rockets and IDF fire. This conflict has heightened our sense of Jewishness and has given us courage in the face of a fierce enemy.
But she continues with the wry observation that her little farm is “not a very interesting target” for Hamas, who are more interested in bombing the cities. Two of her sons are currently in Netivot, and despite their newness to Israel have already adjusted quickly to security procedures.
To Bat-Zion, being Jewish and environmentally friendly go hand in hand, as she says, “The Torah is my basis for environmental living.”
Continue reading about more eco-village projects in Israel:
Eco-Village Kramim: A Green Ray of Light in the Negev
Neot Smadar: An Eco-Village in the Southern Negev
Adam and Eve: An Eco-Farm Paradise in Modiin
(Top image credit: Jonathan Pulik, for the JPost)