Update from Tuv Ha’Aretz in Israel

(Posted on behalf of Yigal Deustcher -the farmer at Chava V’Adam Farm in Israel, one of Tuv Ha’Aretz’s partner communities. He is also the founder of the Shorashim:Roots program. Photos taken by Tuv Ha’Aretz member, Naomi Marcus.)

shorashimbig.jpgI awoke at 5:30 AM and headed to the kitchen where I found Eitan, one of our Shorashim apprentices, dicing the root of Ashwaganda (aka Middle Eastern Ginseng) to make a medicinal tincture.

Eitan has just finished the pilot season of Shorashim:Roots – 5 month intensive housed by Chava v’Adam, an ecological education center outside Modi’in. Our apprentices live and work in a rustic setting, secluded by the rocky, sparsely forested hills hugging our little valley. Much of the work is agriculturally-based, cultivating 5 bio-diverse plots for the needs of our CSA community. All of the buildings are built with stone or mud. The water from our showers & sinks are cleansed by our greywater wetland system. The sounds from the farm can be hectic at times, with busloads of schoolchildren coming to learn about the wonders of plants, animals & mud.

shorashimbig3.jpgJust as Eitan dug up the root of Ashwaganda, our program aspires to dig up our own roots, buried deep by the layers of history, mythological legend, and political/religious dreams of our culture. This root is nurtured by the soils of Israel but along with the organic matter, bacteria, and worms living in this soil that births figs, olives, wheat, pomegranates and carob, this soil is loaded with questions.

As we cultivate the ground, these questions surface. What is our identity in relation to Israel? Is this soil native to our Being, even after being born and reborn as a people all over the different countries of the world? Is Zion an aspiration based on ideals or is it a real, tangible place?

Intense questions thought out in a playful manner. For 5 months, our apprentices create an intimate space in Israel they can call home, where they become a part of the landscape, where the cycles of the moon guides planting schedules, where the holiday calendar marks the harvest calendar and where Shabbat rest is shared by the resting gardens around them.


Sometimes it feels like a fairy-tale playground and other times heavy with work and pressure. Yet it never feels abstract, lost in the language of a prayer or intellectual conversation or speedy tour guide. And that’s why it’s starting to finally feel like a true homecoming.

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2 Responses to “Update from Tuv Ha’Aretz in Israel”

  1. Michael Green Says:

    “What is our identity in relation to Israel? Is Zion an aspiration based on ideals or is it a real, tangible place?”

    Yigal – Zion is all of the above. An irony of the Zionist urge to ‘make the desert bloom’ is that intensive farming has badly damaged Israel’s soil, water and environment. The ecological value of the ‘Land’ seems to have been overlooked for the sake of greater production and technological ‘advances’. In my view, organic farming helps to marry Judaism, Zionism by protecting the country’s scarce natural resources.

    PS I’d love to visit your farm when I make aliya next month.

  2. Joyce Nita Says:

    Would You help me to get there? This is from an organic Jewish woman in Georgia. USA.

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