Should I stay or should I go? It’s a common question vexing many people living in Jerusalem, a city suffering from negative population migration, particularly young, secular Jews who leave to seek opportunities in Tel Aviv and central Israel. Siah HaSade is a new permaculture centre in the heart of west Jerusalem which seeks to reverse this negative trend (in the local neighbourhood at least) by providing local people with tools to live more sustainably in the city.
“One of the things that makes the city liveable are green spaces,” says Shaul David Judelman, local green activist and one of the project’s founders, who hopes that centre will help strengthen the connection between more local people and their community. Officially launched on Tu B’shvat, the previously neglected space is being given a green make-over in the shape of raised beds to grow organic vegetables, compost facilities, planting native trees, demonstration porch and hanging gardens and, in the future, composting toilets and a grey water system to recycle waste water from the kitchen to irrigate plants. “We want to give people the tools to live in a more sustainable way in the city, whether it’s producing a small amount of food, or a place to make contact with nature without driving and burning fossil fuels,” says Judelman, who also runs the Yeshivat Simchat Shlomo Eco-Activist Beit Midrash.
Sade means “field” in Hebrew. Siach can be translated as both “bush”, representing permaculture’s focus on perennial plants, as well as “speech” or “discussion”. “I lived in this neighbourhood before moving to the country but now I want to move back to the city. Having a space to come to and work the land close to where you live, it’s very empowering,” says Sarah Talyah Webb, a professional gardener originally from Canada, who is volunteering at the garden. “I’m a country spirit, I need some green space to make me feel whole. Having my hands in the soil and a place where I can garden is nurturing, it’s a very spiritual practice, especially in Israel.”
- Siah HaSade can be found in the grounds of the Reshimu Performance Center, 8 Rehov Menorah at the junction with Rehov Usishkin.
- To volunteer or for further information contact Shaul: 050-6620617 or [email protected]