Firefighters participating in a joint Middle East Forest Fires drill in Israel, October 25, 2017. Photo courtesy of Israel Firefighting and Rescue Authority

Firefighters participating in a joint Middle East Forest Fires drill in Israel, October 25, 2017. Photo courtesy of Israel Firefighting and Rescue Authority

Firefighting and search-and-rescue teams from Jordan, Israel, Palestinian Authority, Italy, France and Spain had a joint disaster exercise in Israel.

By Abigail Klein Leichman

As forest fires and other major catastrophes engulf many parts of the world with greater frequency, the European Commission and the Israeli government organized an international exercise in Israel this week for firefighters from Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Italy, France and Spain.

The Middle East Forest Fires drill on October 24 and 25 had more than 400 participants from the various countries — including 250 firefighters, pilots, ground crews and logistics personnel — learning to improve skills and share knowledge in large-scale cooperative firefighting management, evacuation of residents, humanitarian assistance and preservation of nature.

Firefighters from Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Italy, France and Spain participating in a joint drill in Israel, October 24, 2017. Photo by Omer Shapira 

Firefighters from Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Italy, France and Spain participating in a joint drill in Israel, October 24, 2017. Photo by Omer Shapira 

“In recent years, we have witnessed large-scale disasters take the lives of tens of thousands of victims, such as earthquakes, floods, fires and incidents involving hazardous materials. These are disasters that countries cannot always deal with on their own, and for which they need assistance,” said Israeli Fire Commissioner Lt. Gen. Dedi Simhi.

The exercise scenario — a large forest fire that spread across borders — included the controlled setting of small fires in two Negev forests, one northeast of Beersheva and the other southeast of Kiryat Gat.

Small controlled fires were set as part of the international exercise, Middle East Forest Fires, in October 2017 in Israel. Photo by Omer Shapira

Small controlled fires were set as part of the international exercise, Middle East Forest Fires, in October 2017 in Israel. Photo by Omer Shapira

The Israeli contingent included representatives of the Foreign and Public Security ministries, the Israel Police, the Firefighting and Rescue Authority, Magen David Adom, the Home Front Command, the National Security Agency and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund.

Firefighting vehicles from participating countries came to Israel for the joint forest fire drill. Photo by Omer Shapira

Firefighting vehicles from participating countries came to Israel for the joint forest fire drill. Photo by Omer Shapira

Months of planning sessions preceded the Middle East Forest Fires drill. There were lots of logistics to coordinate as firefighting planes from Jordan, France, Italy and Spain also were sent to Israel for the simulation.

A firefighting plane from Italy participating in the joint forest fire drill, October 25, 2017. Photo courtesy of Israel Firefighting and Rescue Authority

A firefighting plane from Italy participating in the joint forest fire drill, October 25, 2017. Photo courtesy of Israel Firefighting and Rescue Authority

While Israeli firefighters have worked with counterparts from the Palestinian Authority and several Mediterranean countries in the past, it was the first time all of these countries came together for a joint exercise. The content of the sessions had to be translated into several languages though English was the dominant language.

Screen Shot 2017-11-20 at 8.47.45 AM.jpg

As forest fires and other major catastrophes engulf many parts of the world with greater frequency, the European Commission and the Israeli government organized an international exercise in Israel this week for firefighters from Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Italy, France and Spain.

The Middle East Forest Fires drill on October 24 and 25 had more than 400 participants from the various countries — including 250 firefighters, pilots, ground crews and logistics personnel — learning to improve skills and share knowledge in large-scale cooperative firefighting management, evacuation of residents, humanitarian assistance and preservation of nature.

Firefighters from Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Italy, France and Spain participating in a joint drill in Israel, October 24, 2017. Photo by Omer Shapira 

“In recent years, we have witnessed large-scale disasters take the lives of tens of thousands of victims, such as earthquakes, floods, fires and incidents involving hazardous materials. These are disasters that countries cannot always deal with on their own, and for which they need assistance,” said Israeli Fire Commissioner Lt. Gen. Dedi Simhi.

The exercise scenario — a large forest fire that spread across borders — included the controlled setting of small fires in two Negev forests, one northeast of Beersheva and the other southeast of Kiryat Gat.

Small controlled fires were set as part of the international exercise, Middle East Forest Fires, in October 2017 in Israel. Photo by Omer Shapira

The Israeli contingent included representatives of the Foreign and Public Security ministries, the Israel Police, the Firefighting and Rescue Authority, Magen David Adom, the Home Front Command, the National Security Agency and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund.

Firefighting vehicles from participating countries came to Israel for the joint forest fire drill. Photo by Omer Shapira

Months of planning sessions preceded the Middle East Forest Fires drill. There were lots of logistics to coordinate as firefighting planes from Jordan, France, Italy and Spain also were sent to Israel for the simulation.

A firefighting plane from Italy participating in the joint forest fire drill, October 25, 2017. Photo courtesy of Israel Firefighting and Rescue Authority

While Israeli firefighters have worked with counterparts from the Palestinian Authority and several Mediterranean countries in the past, it was the first time all of these countries came together for a joint exercise. The content of the sessions had to be translated into several languages though English was the dominant language.

Separately, at an army base in southern Israel, search-and-rescue teams from the Israel Defense Forces, Palestinian Authority, Jordan and Spain practiced how to respond cooperatively to a simulated massive earthquake that trapped “victims” underneath the rubble of a collapsed building constructed for the exercise by soldiers on the base.

The joint exercise ended with a ceremony for all participants before they departed back to their home countries.

Israel Fire and Rescue Authority Fire Commissioner Lt. Gen. Dedi Simhi speaking at the joint Middle East Forest Fire drill. Photo: courtesy

Israel Fire and Rescue Authority Fire Commissioner Lt. Gen. Dedi Simhi speaking at the joint Middle East Forest Fire drill. Photo: courtesy

At the ceremony, Simhi said that since its inception in 1948, the state of Israel has been guided by the Talmudic axiom “One who saves a single life is as if he has saved the entire world.”

“We sent rescue forces from the Home Front Command to assist during earthquakes in Turkey, Nepal, Haiti, and most recently, Mexico. Our aerial firefighting unit provided assistance last year to Cyprus, and this year to Montenegro and Macedonia,” Simhi said.

“And we too, needed assistance in two recent events. Last November, during an unprecedented number of fires, we requested and received assistance from our Palestinian and Egyptian neighbors, from Cyprus and from many other countries. And such was the case during the Mount Carmel fire in 2010.

“Therefore, there is great operational importance to an exercise involving international cooperation, so that in the event of an emergency, we will be familiar with one another and know how to work in collaboration,” he continued.

“I also believe that a personal relationship between commanders from different countries can be of great value during a large-scale disaster.”

Israeli, Arab, European Firemen Share Cross-border Drill

A Papua Forest Dragon (Hypsilurus papuensis). Photo by Alex Slavenko

A Papua Forest Dragon (Hypsilurus papuensis). Photo by Alex Slavenko

The most comprehensive atlas of reptilian species has been created by an international research team led by an Israeli scientist.

By ISRAEL21c Staff

An international project initiated by an Israeli professor has resulted in the most comprehensive catalog and atlas of every reptile on Earth, including 10,000 species of snakes, lizards, and tortoises and nearly 32,000 land vertebrate species altogether.

An international team of 39 researchers worked on the new “Atlas of Life,” as described in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

The atlas links the new reptile information with existing maps for birds, mammals and amphibians. The resulting information provides a missing piece to the puzzle of global conservation planning and prioritization.

A gecko (Cyrtodactylus bintangtinggi) from Malaysia. Photo courtesy of BGU

A gecko (Cyrtodactylus bintangtinggi) from Malaysia. Photo courtesy of BGU

“Mapping the distributions of all reptiles was considered too difficult to tackle. But thanks to a team of experts on the lizards and snakes of some of the most poorly known regions of the world, we managed to achieve this, and hopefully contribute to the conservation of these often elusive vertebrates that suffer from persecution and prejudice,” said Prof. Shai Meiri, the Tel Aviv University zoologist who first planned and has been leading the project for the past 10 years.

This snake is a Vipera ammodytes. Photo by Alex Slavenko

This snake is a Vipera ammodytes. Photo by Alex Slavenko

Tel Aviv University, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology all had representatives on the research project.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature is currently classifying the species featured in a free online map, rating them from “critically endangered” to “least concern.”

According to lead author Uri Roll, a fellow in desert ecology at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev’s Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, “Lizards typically tend to have weird distributions and often like hot and dry places, so many of the newly identified conservation priority areas are in drylands and deserts. This isn’t as much of a characteristic for birds or mammals, so we couldn’t have guessed that in advance.”

Atlas of all Land Vertebrates. Graph courtesy of BGU

Atlas of all Land Vertebrates. Graph courtesy of BGU

Roll also analyzed the overlap of different land-vertebrate groups with current conservation priorities and protected areas to explore the outcome of these initiatives. “It turns out that reptiles fare worse than mammals and birds, and within that lizards and turtles fare the worst.”

To address these deficiencies, the researchers constructed a new prioritization plan. “We discovered that arid and semi-arid regions in various parts of the world have been under-prioritized for conservation and we will need to reevaluate our broadest conservation initiatives,” said Roll.

Cataloging Every Snake, Lizard and Tortoise on Earth

Still from the YouTube video "Carrefour, the uniform that cares" by Saatchi & Saatchi IS

Still from the YouTube video "Carrefour, the uniform that cares" by Saatchi & Saatchi IS

Article courtesy of www.Israel21c.org

Article courtesy of www.Israel21c.org

Jerusalem-based Argaman Technologies’ bio-inhibitive cotton is being made into facial masks, hotel linens, uniforms, active wear and much more.

By Abigail Klein Leichman

The constantly intensifying battle against viruses and antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” isn’t only about finding stronger drugs against infection. The focus is moving to preventing infections in the first place.

That’s why large companies such as Carrefour and a Far East luxury hotel chain are looking at unique germ-vanquishing textiles invented by Jerusalem’s Argaman Technologies and manufactured inside its custom-built factory.

Carrefour Group, a French-based superstore chain with 12,000 retail stores in 30 countries, is testing Argaman’s CottonX — billed as the world’s first bio-inhibitive 100 percent cotton – in a line of uniforms dubbed “The Uniform that Cares.”

Textile engineer Jeff Gabbay, founder and CEO of Argaman and inventor of CottonX, led ISRAEL21c on an exclusive tour of the factory, where enhanced copper-oxide particles are ultrasonically and permanently blasted into cotton fibers using an environmentally friendly technique.

Argaman Technologies’ machinery was custom designed for cavitating cotton with active copper oxide. Photo: courtesy Israel21C

Argaman Technologies’ machinery was custom designed for cavitating cotton with active copper oxide. Photo: courtesy Israel21C

Ninety-nine percent of bacteria and viruses are killed within seconds of coming into contact with copper oxide, and bacteria cannot become resistant to copper oxide as they do to antibiotics, Gabbay explains.

Hospital-acquired infections cost US hospitals about $25 billion annually. A trial by the US Centers for Disease Control has recently been completed, checking the effectiveness CottonX sheets, pillowcases, and pajamas to reduce hospital-acquired infections. Results will be published soon.

CottonX is the first-ever bio-inhibitive 100% cotton. Photo courtesy of Argaman Technologies

CottonX is the first-ever bio-inhibitive 100% cotton. Photo courtesy of Argaman Technologies

Face masks for China

CopperX is being developed into reusable, comfortable face masks for the Greater China market, where airborne pollution is a major problem, says Edwin Keh, head of the Hong Kong Research Institute for Textiles and Apparel.

This government-run, nonprofit applied research and commercialization center was introduced to Argaman last year as the result of the industrial R&D memorandum of understanding signed by Israel and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China Hong in February 2014.

One of the largest garment manufacturers in the world, also based in Hong Kong, became a strategic investor in Argaman.

These masks kill, rather than filter, viruses and bacteria as they pass through. Photo courtesy of Argaman Technologies

These masks kill, rather than filter, viruses and bacteria as they pass through. Photo courtesy of Argaman Technologies

Keh tells ISRAEL21c that in addition to the masks, his institute also is testing the applicability of the self-sterilizing, hypoallergenic CottonX material in airline cabin interiors and in hotels.

“Our intention is to license the Argaman technology and marry it with some manufacturing and processing technologies on this end to produce commercial-scale products – probably curtains, towels and bedding — to keep environments more hygienic.”

Edwin Keh, head of the Hong Kong Research Institute for Textiles and Apparel. Photo: courtesy

Edwin Keh, head of the Hong Kong Research Institute for Textiles and Apparel. Photo: courtesy

Keh says he hopes to pursue collaborations with additional Israeli companies offering advanced technologies for the textile industry, especially in water management, spinning, dyeing, weaving and cotton agriculture.

“We want to make a success story out of our collaboration with Argaman and we hope it will be the first of many,” says Keh.

Fire-resistant, wrinkle-fighting

Keh is also interested in some other properties of CottonX aside from germ control.

Embedding varying concentrations of copper dioxide also makes the fabric fire-resistant, electricity conductive (potentially useful for medical monitoring and military markets) and capable of banishing facial wrinkles and even cellulite.

“We know how much active ingredient we need in the fibers to be effective for different purposes, from banishing wrinkles to killing stubborn bacteria. By being able to control the active ingredient content we can assure completely consistent quality in everything we do,” says Gabbay.

CottonX healthcare socks for preventing athlete’s foot and diabetic foot ulcers will soon be launched. Cosmetic textiles — facial mask, pillowcase, gloves, socks and scarf, each premium packaged with an all-natural bio-inhibitive cream infused with accelerated copper oxide – are being developed jointly with a US company headed by a former L’Oréal and Revlon executive.

Argaman also is in discussions with a global fashion firm to create a new “lifestyle” brand of products.

The Argaman Technologies team in its Jerusalem factory. CEO Jeff Gabbay is fourth from right. Photo: courtesy

The Argaman Technologies team in its Jerusalem factory. CEO Jeff Gabbay is fourth from right. Photo: courtesy

Still in the development stage at Argaman are garments that can deliver transdermal chemotherapy or other pharmaceutical treatments and an optic-fiber-embedded material that could deliver phototherapy to psoriasis patients or to jaundiced newborns.

Argaman is a member of a new five-year consortium established in the Israel Innovation Authority’s MAGNET program, which aims to unite technology and industrial companies with academic research institutes to develop technologies for producing “smart” fabrics.

“Not only are we built to take the concepts from academia — plus a lot of our own ideas — to the level that industry needs but we also have the ability in-house to supply all industrial members the understanding of the science, samples and industrial quantities of the new materials should the concepts go commercial,” Gabbay says.

For more information, click here.

Israel's Argaman Technologies develops a cotton that kills germs and viruses on contact

Leket’s new Binyamina field grows produce only for the needy. Photo: courtesy ISRAEL21c

Leket’s new Binyamina field grows produce only for the needy. Photo: courtesy ISRAEL21c

Singaporean philanthropy enables Israeli food-rescue organization to buy a field for raising staple crops to give to the needy all year around.

By Abigail Klein Leichman

Shalom Israel Asia Pacific (SIAP), a Christian pro-Israel organization based in Singapore, recently gave a donation to food-rescue organization Leket Israel to purchase a field where vegetables will be grown solely for the needy.

The 10-acre field in Binyamina, near Haifa, is one of the only fields in Israel where produce is grown specifically for charitable purposes. It’s the only one that will include a greenhouse to grow staple vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers for distribution all year long.

“What makes the Binyamina initiative so unique is our ability to grow the most sought-after vegetables among Israeli society and to supply them to our 195 nonprofit partner agencies throughout the country. We are truly grateful for the substantial donation that made this dream become a reality,” said Joseph Gitler, Leket Israel’s founder and chairman.

“Thanks to Leket, there are thousands who go to bed at night with a full stomach, and that is why we were motivated to create an entire farm to grow produce exclusively for the poor,” said Pastor George Annadorai, director of SIAP.

Leket rescues and distributes 15,000 tons of fruit and vegetables to the needy each year. The vast majority of this bounty is donated by more than 500 farms across Israel.

Gitler said the purpose of growing additional crops in Binyamina is to enrich the variety of produce Leket supplies, as well as to guarantee that even when donations might decrease, as before the fall holiday season, Leket will not have to cut back distribution. Crops such as sweet potatoes, corn, onions and beets will be raised in Binyamina.

In order to engage the public while also reducing expenditures, Leket recruits volunteers from Israel and abroad to assist in the planting and harvesting. For this newest field, members from agricultural youth movements in the Binyamina area are assisting on the farm as part of their regular activities.

As a national food bank, Leket Israel also rescues surplus non-perishable food from manufacturers in addition to fresh perishable food left over on farms, hotels, military bases and catering halls throughout Israel.

The rescued food is distributed by partner organizations to approximately 175,000 Israelis living below the poverty line. Leket Israel also offers nutritional education workshops and consultations through its partners.

 

This Farm’s Veggies are Grown Exclusively for Charity

Students in the GIMI course for Palestinian avocado growers touring the fields.

Students in the GIMI course for Palestinian avocado growers touring the fields.

Galilee International Management Institute enables Palestinian farmers to join Israeli growers in meeting high avocado demand in Europe.

By Abigail Klein Leichman

Cooperation is thriving at the Galilee International Management Institute (GIMI) in Nahalal, a city in northern Israel.

This past July, GIMI gave a training course to Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli olive-oil producers, taught farmers from Palestinian Authority territories to grow avocados for export, and began planning a tele-course for Gazan computer engineers meant to lead to remote employment at Israeli companies.

“This is nothing new for us,” says GIMI President Joseph “Yossie” Shevel. “We’ve been cooperating with the Palestinians for the last 30 years.”

Established in 1987, GIMI develops and presents advanced capacity-building courses for professional personnel from all over the world – from more than 170 countries so far — taught in a wide variety of languages. But local and regional needs are never far from GIMI’s radar.

The avocado-growing course came out of GIMI’s awareness that the healthful avocado is in great demand in Europe and that Israelis could help Palestinian farmers join them in offering a quality product for this “green gold” market.

“We thought we should encourage Palestinians to grow avocados based on the excellent Israeli experience. We know there is a problem of exporting agricultural goods from the West Bank to Europe and we hope to help find a way,” Shevel tells ISRAEL21c.

The GIMI course for Palestinian avocado growers was partially funded by the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

The GIMI course for Palestinian avocado growers was partially funded by the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

Israel avocado exports to Europe have grown to roughly 100,000 tons in recent years, comprising about a third of the winter avocado market in EU countries.

GIMI organized a training course designed for Palestinian agricultural extension officers who will then share their newfound knowledge with farmers. Funding was provided by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the European Union through the agency of Economic Cooperation Foundation, a Tel Aviv-based nonprofit think tank founded in 1990 to build, maintain and support Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab cooperation.

“We have many alumni in the West Bank so once we announced the program they helped us spread the word, and 28 people registered,” says Shevel. About 40 percent of the registrants were female, and some already grow avocados for export to Arab countries.

The two-week course began with online classes taught mainly by Arab-Israeli GIMI faculty members and ended with two days of in-person classes and field trips to Israeli avocado farms in the north at the end of July.

Unfortunately, politics got in the way of 20 of the participants making their way to Israel for the final two days because the Palestinian Authority had halted cooperation with the Israeli government over the issue of security on the Temple Mount.

“They had permits and everything was ready,” says Shevel. “We hope to find funding for them to come and complete the course later on. Usually we manage to overcome politics.”

The eight agronomists and agricultural engineers who did manage to make it came from Hebron, Kalkilya, Tibas and Jenin, and “were received very nicely by the Israeli farmers,” Shevel says.

The course did not end with the formal sessions, he adds. “Now we’ll follow up and help them to plant avocados and work with them, especially when the crops are ready, to export to Europe.”

Breakthrough program

Shevel also is looking forward to what he calls a “breakthrough” program intended to ease the unemployment situation in the Gaza strip, which is contiguous with Israel but ruled by Hamas and therefore few people can cross the border in either direction.

Scheduled to begin in October after the Jewish high holidays, this course will train Gazan computer engineers online to qualify for jobs in Israel via remote connection.

“With globalization you can hire an engineer anywhere, so why not in Gaza, to improve their lives?” Shevel says. “At the end of the program we’ll look for Israeli high-tech companies to employ them. Already one large company made a commitment to do so, and we have two sources ready to fund the program.”

How is GIMI publicizing the course in Gaza? “We have a graduate in Gaza who studied here about 10 years ago and is in close contact with us and wants to coordinate this program for us,” says Shevel.

Perhaps surprisingly, he reveals that his efforts to reach out also have been helped by a close personal friend who is the former president of Al Aqsa University in Gaza.

For more information, click here.

Israeli Institute Trains Palestinian Avocado Growers

Fresh greens grown in the middle of Tel Aviv. Photo by Mendi Falk

Fresh greens grown in the middle of Tel Aviv. Photo by Mendi Falk

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Urban gardening is all the rage in busy Israeli urban areas including Tel Aviv, Haifa, Beersheva and Jerusalem.

by Viva Sarah Press

The upper parking lot of the Dizengoff Center shopping mall in Tel Aviv is a concrete maze of cars. There is also a hothouse up here with the freshest green vegetables you’ve ever seen.

While gardening on the roof of an urban parking garage may seem absurd, Yarok Ba’ir (Green in the City) is serving city dwellers – and restaurants within a 2-kilometer radius — straight-from-the-farm veggies.

Green in the City is a joint venture between LivinGreen, a company that pioneers hydroponic and aquaponic solutions, and the Dizengoff Center, opened in the 1970s as Israel’s first shopping mall.

A gardening workshop at Green in the City. Photo by Mendi Falk

“The main goal of Green in the City is to bring agriculture to the middle of the city, to be able to grow food right in the heart of the city,” Yoav Sharon, co-manager of Green in the City, tells ISRAEL21C.

“People can come here and buy their products, so that trucks don’t have to come into the city to deliver products to restaurants. You see buildings, cars, pollution and then here’s a nice green garden in the middle.”

The first commercial farm in Tel Aviv consists of a hothouse and areas for workshops where local residents can learn how to build urban mini farms at home or school.

The urban farm grows nearly two dozen varieties of veggies and herbs (among them lettuce, basil, tomatoes, mint, kale, cucumbers and green onions), producing some 15,000 heads of leafy greens each month.

Demand is so high that Green in the City now boasts three stands in the Dizengoff Center. All three operate on an honor system.

“There’s nobody at the stands to sell the vegetables. Everything is labeled. Customers pick what they want and deposit the right amount of money into the box,” he says, noting that Green in the City sells more than 1,500 products per week.

Farm stands at the Dizengoff Center sell rooftop veggies. Photo by Viva Sarah Press

Food security

Green in the City launched in the winter of 2015 to demonstrate urban farming and to show that growing greens in a city is not only possible but viable.

Today, 54 percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. That number is expected to increase to 66% by 2050.

To feed the growing numbers of city-dwellers, urban farming is crucial. That’s why the hydroponics project in downtown Tel Aviv has garnered international interest.

Yoav Sharon in the Green in the City garden. Photo by Viva Sarah Press

Yoav Sharon in the Green in the City garden. Photo by Viva Sarah Press

The UN reports that 800 million people worldwide grow vegetables or fruits or raise animals in cities, producing 15-20% of the world’s food. This trend can make an important contribution to food security, especially in times of crisis or food shortages.

LivinGreen, one of the partners in Green in the City, runs two aquaponics projects in collaboration with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, in Ghana and Ethiopia.

Taste is fresh

Growing locally also means fresher veggies.

While air pollution in the city and in the parking facility under Green in the City can’t be good for the vegetables, Sharon says the mesh netting around the hothouse keeps most of the harmful pollutants at bay. He also notes that Green in the City has sent samples of its leafy greens to be checked in a lab.

Pesticides and other chemicals usually sprayed on rural farms, he notes, are absent from these greens. The vegetables are grown in beds filled with clean water, fertilizer and minerals. A fish aquaponics system cleans the water naturally.

Veggies grown without dirt or pesticides. Photo by Viva Sarah Press

Veggies grown without dirt or pesticides. Photo by Viva Sarah Press

“There’s no need to clean these vegetables,” says Sharon. “There are no pesticides on it, there’s no dirt or soil. There are no worms on the vegetables. There are also fewer bad leaves. Compared to a soil-grown vegetable, where restaurants throw away 40-50% of the vegetable, here you only throw away 10-20%.”

Israel, known for its agriculture technologies, is strong in the hydroponics field.

Greening and growing Israel

Green in the City is one of many urban green spots blooming around Israel.

The Society of the Protection of Nature in Israel has an ongoing grassroots project that helps residents build and maintain community gardens. In the past 15 years, some 300 community gardens have been planted around the country on formerly barren patches of land.

The Onya urban environment nursery of young eco-conscious visionaries grows greenery and offers urban gardening workshops in the concrete sprawl also known as the Tel Aviv New Bus Station.

At Totzeret Gimel-Urban Farmin one of Beersheva’s more neglected neighborhoods, farmers and volunteers grow seasonal vegetables to sell to neighbors and local restaurants. Totzeret Gimel also promotes a local and sustainable model of urban agriculture.

CityTree Tel Aviv and CityTree Haifa offer a slew of ecological-based programs including composting workshops and community garden outreach.

And the Muslala Arts Collective built its Gag Eden urban farm atop the Clal Building in downtown Jerusalem. Gag Eden hosts courses and workshops on container growing, green walls, hydroponics, the sustainable kitchen and medicinal herbs.

 

 

Hydroponic Farm Sprouts on the Roof of a Shopping Mall

Lodologic’s team in Sao Paulo, from left, Gabriel Kainuma, Plinio Pimentel and Ayrton Junior. Photo: courtesy of Lodologic

Lodologic’s team in Sao Paulo, from left, Gabriel Kainuma, Plinio Pimentel and Ayrton Junior. Photo: courtesy of Lodologic

Article Courtesy of www.Israel21c.org

Article Courtesy of www.Israel21c.org

By next year, several Brazilian sewage plants will incorporate Lodologic systems to change sludge into odorless, pathogen-free fertilizer for crops.

By Abigail Klein Leichman

Ready for a really yucky statistic?

Sixty percent of the 6.8 million liters of daily sewage sludge generated in Brazil gets dumped back into nature untreated. And even that is a big improvement over the situation five years ago.

Now the South American country is poised to clean up its sewage problem using an Israeli invention for transforming human waste into odor-free, sterilized farm fertilizer.

Incorporated in February, Lodologic was established by a group of Brazilian companies in partnership with Paulee CleanTec in Israel. (“Lodo” means “sludge” in Portuguese.)

“Paulee CleanTec has a proprietary process to oxidate organic residue. We’re going to apply that process to sludge,” Lodologic CEO Gabriel Kainuma tells ISRAEL21c from his office in Sao Paulo.

“We mix a chemical reagent with the sludge and blend this mix in a high-speed chamber that eliminates all pathogens in the sludge, transforming it into safe, affordable, effective fertilizer,” he says.

“By 2018 we expect to be operating in at least six plants. There are over 400 sewage treatment plants in Brazil, so we have a huge market here to explore.”

A sewage treatment plant in Brazil. Photo courtesy of Lodologic

A sewage treatment plant in Brazil. Photo courtesy of Lodologic

Sludge (biosolids) is a byproduct of sewage treatment plants -- the waste removed from wastewater. While the treated water can be safely discharged to waterways or reused for other purposes, sludge has to be disposed of or treated separately onsite. An environmentally friendly option is composting, but this takes a lot of time and space. And it smells bad.

“Decades ago, when sewage treatment was only taking its first steps, sludge was dumped into international waters,” Paulee CleanTec CEO Ilan Levy tells ISRAEL21c.

In many Latin American countries, he says, dumping sludge into the ocean still is standard practice, and even happens unintentionally in places such as California when heavy rain causes sewage systems to overflow.

“Nobody knows what to do with the enormous amount of sludge generated every day,” says Levy. “The general solution is to send it to landfills. We are changing the logic by turning sludge into something of value.”

Wastewater treatment in Brazil, where Lodologic is changing the paradigm. Photo: courtesy of Lodologic

Wastewater treatment in Brazil, where Lodologic is changing the paradigm. Photo: courtesy of Lodologic

One technology, three uses

Paulee CleanTec is the Tel Aviv company that developed an invention by Hebrew University Prof. Oded Shoseyov for turning dog dung into sterile, odorless fertilizer pellets on the spot, using a pooper-scooper with an oxidation unit attached. This innovation is now going into production through a partnership with Ohio-based OurPets.

In 2014, Paulee CleanTec partnered with San Francisco-based CB Engineers to create Epic CleanTec,  which will soon install a unique system in a San Francisco high-rise apartment house to treat sewage and use the resulting fertilizer for onsite landscaping. The system will redirect the used water for toilets, irrigation and cooling towers; and will reuse the output heat for the building’s hot-water supply.

Lodologic, Paulee’s second affiliate company, “is a different application, on the municipal level, using totally different machinery,” Levy explains. “Sewage systems are overloaded and new approaches are needed. We need to increase the number of people they can serve. So we attack the problem from different angles.”

Lodologic machinery is designed to convert all types of sludge from sewage treatment plants or biogas plants into odorless, organic, low-cost agricultural fertilizer within minutes.

The Brazilian company, self-financed for now, also will offer its customers a distribution structure for the fertilizer.

“We’re developing equipment to retrofit existing sewage treatment facilities,” says Kainuma. “Usually a conveyor puts the sludge into a truck to take it away. We’re going to position our equipment to receive the sludge from the conveyor in the same place where the truck would have been. So there is very little modification needed to the plant.”

The first operation is expected to go live by the end of 2017.

“We have a team of four and are hiring more to accelerate development,” says Kainuma, a Brazilian robotics engineer who formerly worked in the automotive industry.

Other countries are likely to be watching the project in Brazil closely. While Brazil produces 2.5 million tons of sludge per year, the amounts are much higher in countries such as China (9 million tons per year) and the United States (8 million tons). The European Union generates about 12 million tons of sludge every year.

Lodologic >  

Brazil Looks to Israeli Tech to Solve a Stinky Problem

Biochar. Photo courtesy Simon Dooley via Creative Commons License.

Biochar. Photo courtesy Simon Dooley via Creative Commons License.

by Ellen R. Graber
Volcani Center, Agricultural Research Organization, Israel

When scientists and laypeople alike learn about biochar for the first time, they usually are intrigued by the seeming “magic powers” of this black powder. People with gardens and farms want to know how to use it, and scientists want to understand whether the stories they hear about it can possibly be true, and if yes, how does it work?

Our group recently completed two studies that push us a bit forward in understanding the why of biochar.

Biochar is the solid product of treating organic matter wastes by pyrolysis, which is the technical word for burning organic materials in the absence of oxygen. Generally, we are familiar with combustion, that is, burning that takes place in the presence of oxygen. In an oxygen-containing environment, all the organic matter is eventually combusted to gases, mainly carbon dioxide and water vapor. By contrast, during pyrolysis, there are several final products, including biochar, bio-oil, and “syngas” (also known as synthesis gas). 

By now, plenty of research studies in the laboratory, greenhouse, and field have shown that when biochar is added to soil, it can improve plant growth and health. This is not a universal result, however: sometimes adding biochar has no effect, and sometimes even negative effects are reported. As a result, knowing what is happening is not enough. We need to know why it is happening. Once we know the why, it will be possible to harness the positive effects and eliminate or minimize the negative ones. 

Our group recently completed two studies that push us a bit forward in understanding the why of biochar. We discovered that biochar-stimulated improvements in plant growth and health are strongly linked to increased microbial diversity and changes in the metabolic potential of microbes in the root zone. Much as human health and development are affected by the microbes occupying our gut, so plant health and development are affected by the microbes intimately associated with the plant roots. Biochar improves the functioning and increases the diversity of these microbes, which corresponds to the increasing general consensus that soil additions that enhance microbial diversity have important benefits for ecosystem functioning. We have found that these changes are primarily triggered by the recalcitrant carbon backbone of the biochar and other tightly bound components that are part of biochar. 

Much more research is still needed, but this gives an indication of the path scientists can follow to determine how to design and use biochar in the future.

The original research articles can be found in: Kolton et al. and Jaiswal et al.

The “Magic” of Biochar: Recent results from the iBRN

Jerusalem seen from the air. Photo © and courtesy Cookie West

Keeping in mind Israel is about the size of New Jersey, you might consider a scouting foray to the Negev by helicopter. Take off from the heliport north of Tel Aviv, in Herzliya—imagine climbing into a bright yellow copter with sound-muffling earphones—the loud throbbing of the engine filling the air as you hunker down in your bucket seat.

You’ll see the green hills around Jerusalem, with its pink-hued stone walls surrounding the Old City, the Dome of the Rock glinting in the sun.

The helicopter rises into the sky as you peer downward to see the world receding from view, the towns speeding by underneath you as you head south. There is Tel Aviv off on the right—its skyscrapers reminding you a little of the spires of New York City. In a short while you’ll see the green hills around Jerusalem, with its pink-hued stone walls surrounding the Old City, the Dome of the Rock glinting in the sun.

The country lays itself out for you; the perspective from the helicopter revealing gorgeous larger patterns of cityscape, agricultural dots and stripes, and moonlike arid lands. The terrain turns yellow as you careen over the Judean Desert. There in the distance, to the right, is Be’er Sheva. Once a sleepy little camel junction, it is now a metropolis, with buildings climbing high out of the winding old streets. To your left—that is, to the East—the salt-dense Dead Sea lolled mysteriously. In less than an hour, your pilot lands in a whirlwind of sand churned up by the gusts of the helicopter’s propellers. Here you are at Tel Arad, in the northeastern Negev, right in front of the Yatir Winery

Herzliya to Tel Arad, Negev—Seen from the Air

Carmel Winery's Kayoumi vineyard in the Gallilee. Photo courtesy Carmel Winery

The wines of Israel are winning well-deserved notice internationally.

The wines of Israel are winning well-deserved notice internationally. The late, great wine expert Daniel Rogov pronounced Eyal Rotem's Clos de Gat “a world-class winery.” Eli Ben-Zaken of Domaine du Castel was named Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite Agricole by France in 2013—high praise indeed from a country considered by many to be the end-all of fine wines. And Castel has taken home many other prizes, including the prestigious Decanter World Wine Award—the Oscar of British wine prizes. The great oenological arbiter Wine Spectator included Recanati’s 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Galilee on its 2014 list of Top 100 Wines. And the list of accolades continues to grow along the Negev wine route.  

The cover story of Wine Spectator's October 2016 magazine was dedicated to Israeli Wines as reported by Israel21C.

Ashba Winery >

Ramat HaNegev

Carmel Winery >

Zichron Ya’acov

Carmey Avdat >

north of Mitzpe Ramon

Chillag Winery >

Yahud

Clos de Gat Winery >

Ayalon Valley

Dalton Winery >

Ramat Dalton Industrial Park

Derech Eretz Winery >

Mitzpe Ramon

Domaine du Castel >

Ramat Raziel

Golan Heights Winery >

Golan Heights

Ramat Negev Winery >

Halutza

Recanati Winery >

Emek Hefer Industrial Park

Rota Winery >

Kibbutz Revivim, Sde Boker

Rujum Desert Winery >

Mitzpe Ramon

Sde Boker Winery >

Kibbutz Sde Boker

Tulip Winery >

Kiryat Tivon

Yatir Winery >

Tel Arad

The Wines of Israel: World-Class Vintages

Wine barrels. Photo courtesy Carmel Winery

Carmel Winery, based in Zichron Ya’acov and Rishon Le Zion, offers a perfect metaphor for how Israel is establishing itself on the cultural world stage. 

Founded in 1882 by Edmond de Rothschild, Carmel is Israel’s largest winery, and the oldest still in operation. For many years, it produced wine chiefly for ceremonial purposes—fine vintages were out of the question. But starting in the late 1980s, Israeli demand for superior wines was clearly intensifying, and Carmel played an important part in that sea change. 

Carmel Winery has won many international prizes, including the prestigious Decanter World Wine Award.


The vintners at Carmel realized some time ago that trying to copy the techniques of Old World winemakers would not work here. Israel is a hot country, so they brought in wine experts from warm climates: California, Argentina, Chile, South Africa, and Australia. Their chief winemaker today is Lior Lacser, who has worked in France (both Burgundy and Bordeaux) as well as in Australia. 
Carmel now also has two small, state-of-the-art wineries producing small quantities of handcrafted wines: Kayoumi Winery in the Upper Galilee, and Yatir Winery in the northeastern Negev. Carmel Winery has won many international prizes, including the prestigious Decanter World Wine Award for its 2008 Kayoumi Single Vineyard Shiraz. It continues to wow wine experts with its old-vine Petite Syrah and Carignan, Mediterranean-style prestige blends, and more. 

Carmel Winery and Kayoumi Winery >

Yatir Winery >

Carmel Winery operations. Photos courtesy Carmel Winery

Carmel Winery: Founded in 1882 and Still Going Strong

Noble Energy and Transocean's rig in the Tamar gas field. Photo courtesy Transocean Ltd. via Creative Commons License.

Noble Energy and Transocean's rig in the Tamar gas field. Photo courtesy Transocean Ltd. via Creative Commons License.

The economic balance of power in the Middle East teeters, often uneasily, on the region’s fuel reserves. Until recently, Israel was not part of that delicate equation. In 2009, however, about fifty miles off the coast of Haifa, a massive natural gas reserve was discovered at what is known as Tamar field. That was followed in 2010 by the discovery, not far from Tamar, of another field—it was at the time the largest natural gas find in more than a decade. It was dubbed Leviathan.

Energy independence is a status much to be desired, and these reserves, if all goes well, will ensure it for Israel. If all goes marvelously, Israel will be in a position to help supply its neighbors—even those as far away as Europe—with gas. As the country’s energy minister, Yuval Steinitz, put it in January of this year: “Suddenly, we are an energy player.”

These are uncertain times, and of course the discovery of energy reserves does not guarantee peace, at home or abroad—history has shown us this in countless ways. But there are reasons to be optimistic. A recent New York Times article notes that “the potential for enhancing Israel’s relations with its neighbors is alluring.” New connections have already been forged with Jordan (which has agreed to purchase $10 billion in natural gas from Israel over the next fifteen years), and Israel is hoping for new alliances with Turkey, Cyprus, Greece, and beyond.

At home, Israeli gas now produces more than half of the country’s electricity, and the economy has received a welcome boost. Its new position as an “energy player” may win Israel new friends in the energy game.

Israel’s Gas Reserves Might Improve Relations in the Region

Chief winemaker Lior Lacser. Photo courtesy Carmel Winery

As you stroll from building to building at Carmel Winery you might be treated to the site of Lior Lacser, Carmel’s chief winemaker, hurrying by. Stall him with a question, and Lior may demur: “I’ve got to go . . . I’ve got to go!”—as pressed for time as the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland. Lior is young and intensely focused—refreshingly impatient with visitors—he obviously has big things on his mind.

Laxer oversees wines made from Carmel Winery’s nearly 3,500 acres of vineyards, from the Upper Galilee in the North to the Negev in the South.

Rehabilitating the behemoth of Carmel took great expertise and concerted drive. Originally from Tel Aviv, Lior studied in Burgundy, and has worked at wineries in Bordeaux and Australia. He oversees wines made from Carmel’s nearly 3,500 acres of vineyards, from the Upper Galilee in the North to the Negev in the South. His inner sanctum is by the small tanks for experimentation at Carmel’s microwinery. This is where Lior can let his brilliant fantasies run loose, blending new grapes being grown high in the hills to create the wines for Carmel. 

Carmel Winery >

Lior Lacser of Carmel

Cultivating crops in the Negev Desert, near Nitzana. Photo by and © 2016 Vision Studio

Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research scientists are researching one of the great challenges to water conservation: desalination. Indeed, technologies in this area are quickly advancing, offering Israel the prospect of overcoming the difficult task of supplying this thirsty nation with fresh water. The Blaustein Institutes are among the top facilities in the world to be studying desalinating water using solar energy.

The Negev is like one big laboratory of arid regions in the world. And our institute has the great advantage of being at the location of its research.
— Pedro Berliner, Director, Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research

Much has been done to share the benefits of these discoveries in sustainable ecology outside Israel. Pedro Berliner, director of the Blaustein Institutes, says: “The Negev is like one big laboratory of arid regions in the world. And our institute has the great advantage of being at the location of its research. It’s what makes it special.” Recently, he has been basing some of his work on ancient Nabataean farming methods: learning from the land itself. Berliner notes that Blaustein scientists have led a reforestation project in northwest Kenya that is helping to provide refugees with much-needed firewood; similar programs have been set up in India, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan. Their aquaculture techniques have been adopted in many countries, including Kenya, Tanzania, and Namibia. Furthermore, he says, “the Negev aquifer extends right into Sinai, and the Egyptians are showing an interest in using our methods to develop it.”  

“Our motto is to turn curses into blessings,” says Berliner, who has made his home in the Negev since 1987. “The temperature of the desert is high, but this is conducive to plant and animal growth. The water is salty, but many good things can be done with it. The Negev is quite far from the center of the country . . . but this means more affordable real estate!”

Israel shares the plight of desertification with countries all over the planet—sharing its research on ways to live successfully with the desert.

Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research > 

Related Reading: It’s not the desert that’s the enemy at Israel21c.org.

 

Desalination at Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research

In a greenhouse in the Negev Desert, water is meted out to plants with drip irrigation. Photo by and © 2016 Vision Studio 

The Jacob Blaustein Institutes’ researchers are constantly looking for new ways to conserve and reutilize water. Not a drop is wasted here. This is a theme heard throughout Israel—everyone is concerned about the conservation of this most precious of resources, and everyone, it seems, is trying to do something about it.

It wasn’t simple to convince people that growing fish in the desert makes sense!” —Samuel Appelbaum, professor and fish biologist at the Blaustein Institute.

Israel’s sources of water include underground water from the mountain and coastal plain aquifers, groundwater from Lake Kinneret (or Sea of Galilee), rivers, lakes, flood-waters, and reservoirs. Underground water is the largest reserve in the country; in fact, more than 50 percent of Israel’s water is naturally stored underground and is pumped from wells or springs. Hundreds of feet under the Negev lie vast aquifers, which, though not a renewable source of water, may be used now to help irrigate, and later—like most of Israel’s water—will be recycled.   

Samuel Appelbaum, a professor and fish biologist at the Blaustein Institutes showed us small tanks filled with various types of fish—sea bass, sea bream, tilapia—all being studied to see how effectively they breed in the brackish water. 

Learn more by reading "From Far Beneath the Israeli Desert, Water Sustains a Fertile Enterprise" at Israel21C which explains:

Scientists here realized they were onto something when they found that brackish water drilled from deep underground aquifers could be used to raise warm-water fish. The geothermal water, less than a tenth as saline as seawater, free of pollutants, and a toasty 98 degrees on average, was an ideal match. It wasn’t simple to convince people that growing fish in the desert makes sense! . . . Ponds fed by geothermal waters from under the Negev teem with fish.

The Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research >

Learn more by reading From Far Beneath the Israeli Desert, Water Sustains a Fertile Enterprise at Israel21C.org

Water Conservation at Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research

Trees planted in a depression to hold rainwater in the Negev.  Photo by and © 2016 Vision Studio 

The Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research is one of several campuses of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Here, the curriculum focuses on how to live and work in this expanse of sand and in climatic extremes that range from scorching hot to bitter cold. Ben-Gurion himself put it concisely: “In the Negev will the people of Israel be tested.”

Nearly 60 percent of Israel is desert. How can food be raised in a barren wasteland? Scientists at the Blaustein Institutes have been working since the 1970s to make parts of the Negev green and hospitable.

Nearly 60 percent of Israel is desert. How can food be raised in a barren wasteland? Where does the water come from to sustain life in such arid, dusty conditions? Scientists at the Blaustein Institutes have been working since the 1970s to make parts of the Negev green and hospitable—researching everything from climatology and meteorology to water resources, desert ecology, animal husbandry, biotechnology, and much more.

The institute’s Solar and Environmental Physics center is designed for super energy efficiency. Much thought has gone into how to construct in this environment, where electricity and water are so very valuable. It’s a given that buildings here must be designed to work with the realities of the desert context, and not in confrontation with them. While the days are hot, the nights can be very chilly; a well-insulated structure, with thick, dense walls, can retain that refreshing coolness. Cold air has a tendency to stay low—so in this building, most of the offices are located on the first floor, and in the summertime a cooling tower sprinkles water into the atmosphere, serving as a form of air conditioning. Conversely, hot air rises, so the light from the blazing sun is blocked with shades, and high vents and windows allow the warm air that has accumulated to escape. In the winter, the campus—which is more than 1,300 feet above sea level—can get cold, so solar panels soak in the sun’s heat and distribute it to the building, warming workspaces and the circulating water system.

The Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research >

Climate and Environment Studies at Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research

The Bedouin village of Hura, where Muhammad al-Nabari has been the mayor since 2005. Photo by Romayan, courtesy Creative Commons

Mayor Muhammad al-Nabari of Hura grew up in this predominantly Bedouin town, but in his teens came to the conclusion that there was no future for him in the Negev. He moved north to attend high school, and then—to his family’s immense pride—went on to attend Hebrew University and later Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, where he earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry. After graduation, he took a job at a prominent pharmaceutical company—but, he says, “I never cut myself off from my identity as a Bedouin.” Al-Nabari was living near Hura, and running an advocacy group for higher education among the Bedouins. In 2005 he ran for mayor of Hura—but didn’t take the idea seriously; in fact, he didn’t even bother leaving his job when he began his campaign. “I never believed I would get elected!” he admits. He was wrong.

I never cut myself off from my identity as a Bedouin.”
— Muhammad Al-Nabari, Mayor of Hura

After more than a decade under al-Nabari’s leadership, Hura—though still one of Israel’s poorest communities—has become a model of how local government can be run. With financial assistance from sources including the Jewish National Fund and other Jewish organizations in the United States and United Kingdom, Hura now boasts a community center, a public library, and the highly successful Ahad High School for Science, which accepts gifted Bedouin students from all over the Negev. Education is central to progress and hope for Hura—as for the entire nation—as al-Nabari well knows. “I have told my principals to be responsible for students even after they graduate,” he says. “We check to see how many go on to college and careers.”

Hura has a way to go: there is still poverty and much unemployment to contend with here, and the Bedouins’ relations with the Israeli government are uneasy at best. But al-Nabari believes that it is a waste of time and energy to dwell on who’s to blame or what is not working. He says: “If you focus on the discourse [of] ‘They screwed me over; they discriminated against me’—then you’ll stay with the problems and have no solutions. . . . It’s very easy to put the blame on others, but if we do our jobs and then fight for what we need from the government, gradually the situation will improve.”

 

Muhammad al-Nabari, the Forward-Thinking Mayor of Hura

A Bedouin family in a still from the Sustainability Laboratory's short film Project Wadi Attir.  Photo courtesy Project Wadi Attir

Project Wadi Attir is located in the northern Negev near the Bedouin town of Hura. It was founded by Michael Ben-Eli, who heads a global initiative called the Sustainability Laboratory. The project’s aim is to find a way to combine Bedouin culture and experience with progressive notions of sustainability and “green” technologies—looking at renewable-energy production, recycling, land stewardship, and much more.

Project Wadi Attir serves as a model for Jewish-Bedouin collaboration. “It is good for the people. It makes them feel good as citizens. It makes them proud to be part of Israel.
— Muhammad al-Nabari, Mayor of Hura

The concept for the project was born in 2007 when Ben-Eli and his colleague Josh Arnow paid a visit to Ben-Gurion University and the Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research—centers outfitted with astonishing technologies and facilities, where much of Israel’s world-class research into desert living is being conducted. But during that visit, Ben-Eli and Arnow also saw the harsh living conditions of the growing Bedouin community, trying to make its way in a land of increasing Westernization and urban sprawl. “It did not seem right,” Ben-Eli has observed, “that full citizens in a country like Israel would live in desperate circumstances, when there were such incredible technologies being developed nearby.”

Ben-Eli met with Muhammad al-Nabari, the forward-thinking mayor of Hura, and they teamed up to bring Project Wadi Attir to light. A joint effort between Ben-Eli’s Sustainability Laboratory and the Hura Municipal Council, the project is decidedly holistic in its approach: dealing with social, economic, environmental, as well as tech considerations. Collaborators include Bedouin community members, university scientists and researchers, local nonprofit organizations, a nearby kibbutz, government agencies, and private-sector companies. The hope is that this new vision of environmentally sound development—beneficial to all parties—may impact the entire Middle East region as well as other parts of the world.

At the Project Wadi Attir farm, Bedouins tend goats and sheep organically for the production of dairy products. They grow medicinal plants and herbs (based on traditional Bedouin healing methods), and have developed a line of health products for sale on the mainstream market. Indigenous vegetables were once an important part of the Bedouin diet, but many were nearly eradicated; these have been reintroduced and are cultivated organically, and a seed bank has been established for these precious plants. Hundreds of olive trees have been planted by local Bedouin high-school students, into soil enhanced and irrigated with the help of scientists from the Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research.

Women are working and taking part in the project’s planning—this is a real breakthrough among the Bedouins.  Today Project Wadi Attir—the first-ever Bedouin agricultural cooperative in Israel—serves as a hub for eco-tourism, and as a model for Jewish-Bedouin collaboration. As Mayor al-Nabari puts it: “It is good for the people. It makes them feel good as citizens. It makes them proud to be part of Israel.”

Project Wadi Attir >

Learn more about New Israeli tech, old Bedouin ways at Wadi Attir at Israel21c.org.


Project Wadi Attir: Progress for a Bedouin Community

Rota Winery, Negev Desert. Photo by Katherine Martinelli courtesy Creative Commons.

Carmey Avdat—which grows Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes—is part of the “Negev Wine Route”; other wineries on that itinerary are the Ramat Negev Winery, Rota, Ashba, Rujum, Derech Eretz, and Sde Boker. What a surprise that the desert can be so fruitful, so generous—and that the wine from this region can be so fabulous!

Eyal Izrael of Carmey Avdat farm and winery explains how he and Hannah have successfully adapted themselves to this land: “Our exploration of the desert served as the foundation for our vision and dream,” he told me. “We learned to listen to the voices of the desert and to respect it—but not to attempt to tame it.” 

Ashba Winery >

Carmey Avdat >

Derech Eretz Winery >

Ramat Negev Winery >

Rota Winery >

Rujum Desert Winery >

Sde Boker Winery >

Yatir Winery >

Beautiful Vintages Grown in the Desert

Seeds growing in Biochar at the Volcani Center. Stills from the film Solutions from the Land

Biochar—is a soil-enrichment approach to cultivation that is being explored in many places in the world. While its long-term effects are still under investigation, many people are looking to biochar as a possible response to two of the world’s most dire issues: hunger and climate change. Israel, which has been rising to the challenges of growing crops in stubbornly difficult conditions for many years, is on the forefront in this field. 

Biochar is a possible response to two of the world’s most dire issues: hunger and climate change.


The two-part film Solutions from the Land includes “Saving the Soil: Israel Explores Biochar” and “Biochar: A New Path.” It highlights the work of Yoram Kapulnik, head of the Volcani Center   (the research arm of the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture), and award-winning Volcani scientist Ellen Graber; together they are experimenting with biochar with a view to improving impoverished soils and countering the adverse effects of chemicals and pesticides, while increasing crop yield. In the film, Yoram and Ellen visit a U.S. biochar facility, and take stock of how work is advancing on both sides of the Atlantic. The film also focuses on neuroscientist-turned-biochar-entrepreneur Nadav Ziv, surrounded by hundreds of thousands of date-palm trees near the Dead Sea; he explains that greenhouse gases taken out of the air by the growing palm trees are fixed via a process known as pyrolysis in the form of biochar, which can be used to great advantage. Each of these remarkable figures is contributing to Israel’s—and the world’s—progress in the area of sustainable agriculture. 


These stills are from the film Solutions from the Land available with the purchase of The Desert and the Cities Sing: Discovering Today’s Israel.

 

The film: "Solutions from the Land"

The film Solutions from the Land  includes: part I “Saving the Soil: Israel Explores Biochar” and part II: “Biochar: A New Path.” Biochar—is a soil-enrichment approach to cultivation that is being explored in many places in the world. While its long-term effects are still under investigation, many people are looking to biochar as a possible response to two of the world’s most dire issues: hunger and climate change. Israel, which has been rising to the challenges of growing crops in stubbornly difficult conditions for many years, is on the forefront in this field.