Although winter has come to Israel belatedly in the season’s heaviest rainfalls this weekend, the ecological farm Hava Ve’Adam outside of Modi’in is now accepting applications for the fall term of its Eco-Israel program.
For the uninitiated, Eco-Israel is a chance to get deeply involved in producing “beyond organic” food. Farm staff Naomi Katz, Yigal Deutscher and Chaim Feldman have crafted a space where ducks peck at weeds, then provide fertilizer for the plants through their droppings. Woven into the small crop space in central Israel are several trees of varying heights; these help shade more delicate plants from the scorching Middle Eastern sun.
Eco-Israel is a five-month program that includes a permaculture certificate. Participants study ecology and farming in a Jewish context. Beyond that, choosing to live on Hava Ve’Adam for five months is a commitment to green group living. All the farm’s energy comes from solar panels. The compost toilets are waterless. The farm harvests rainwater for the showers. Everyone living on the farm helps cook meals, which are vegetarian.
About ten American Jews participate in Eco-Israel a term, and they are joined by ten Israelis doing pre-army volunteer service. Last year, the group traveled around Israel to learn about ecological issues nationwide, such as water shortages, swamp drainage and the pollution of riverways.
The program costs $5,000 not including flight, which can be partially offset by grants of up to $3,000 from MASA, a body associated with the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency.
Eco-Israel is one of several options for environmentourism in Israel. For more ideas, consider WOOFing, interning at one of Israel’s many green organizations, or the old standby, volunteering on a Kibbutz.