Green Scene: Kibbutz Neot Semadar

If you are looking for a place to unplug from your hectic life of glowing screens and reconnect to a more simplistic, sustainable way of life, there is a small kibbutz in the Negev that might catch your interest.

Started in 1989 by a group of friends in Southern Israel, just north of Eilat, Kibbutz Neot Semadar, as a way to live a more purposeful life - away from the busy city life - closer to nature. No one owns a TV and none of the 124 acres being farmed use pesticides. They look to recycle everything - with a compost pile turning scraps of food into fertilizer for the farms. They even built their own wetlands to help breakdown sewage wastewater and allow it to return to the ecosystem without any pathogens!

They have their own restaurant, full of organic produce, dairy products, and wine made on the kibbutz. Utilizing the water recycling technology, they are able to boast of the 'southernmost winery in the Northern Hemisphere'

All buildings on the kibbutz were constructed by the residents (how many towns can claim that!), and they are designed to stay cool in the blazing desert sun, reducing the need for air conditioners, and subsequently their need for electricity in general. They actually generate their own solar powered electricity, and have ambitions to generate 50% of the electricity needed in the South by 2020.
Any one of these acts - the organic agriculture, the water recycling system, or the green building design, on their own is admirable, but together require a dedication to live a truly sustainable life. Starting something like this in the middle of nowhere isn't easy. One of the residents explained the motivation for their behavior:
 "When we arrived here twenty years ago, there were clear wide open spaces of desert. We did not want to pollute these areas with fertilizers and pesticides because our world view included caring for the environment. We chose it even though at that time, organic farming was highly unusual and hardly practiced. In recent years, organic farming has become very fashionable and today many people seek out our products. People know that our products bear a highly credible brand name because we grow our fruit in a clean, secluded, pollution-free desert environment and we also manufacture our products within a framework of personal responsibility and caring." 
 But they aren't keeping the methods of success to themselves - the kibbutz hosts seminars and courses, so anyone can learn how to recreate this lifestyle. Or, if you are in Israel and want to check then out, you can even just take a tour.  


judy said...

This looks like a wonderful Kibbutz. Do you take new members and how do you do this?

EmunaDate said...

Hi Judy,
You would have to contact them directly to see if they have space available. I believe you would have to pass their interview process to be accepted into their kibbutz.

Yashar LaChayal

The majesty of the Western Wall

Nefesh B'Nefesh