Brushing off the dust and dirt from the nearby camel stalls I began my day saying goodbye to the bedouin tents. The day included a visit to Ben Gurion’s gravesite, a student village, and a local farm before heading to Tel Aviv.
With a passion for sustainable agriculture and degree in Global Environmental Sustainability my favorite part of the day began as we turned down the dirt road surrounded by greenhouses covered in long vines. Bus 251 had made it to The Salad Trail, an oasis created in the Negev through Israeli innovation.
The hot days and dry weather associated with the desert landscape create a variety of crop issues including a lack of water. Common watering techniques, including sprinklers, use too much water to be sustainable. Faced with a unique challenge the drip irrigation system was invented in Israel and is, now, used throughout the world to save water.
Currently, Israel holds the patent to cherry tomatoes and is constantly working to engineer new varieties in order to keep it. During the cherry tomato craze Italy contacted Israel and wanted their favorite tomato, a San Marzano, to be miniaturized. To this day all of the mini San Marzano tomatoes bought and used in Italy are imported from Israel.
As I wandered through the rows of carrots, tomatoes, and cucumbers I couldn’t stop my mind from wandering as well. How can a culture so rooted in agriculture have lost it along the way in the United States? Being a Jew involved in the US agricultural industry can be a lonely place, even though Judaism has strong agricultural ties.
Learning about the agriculture in Israel and the Jewish laws that are still followed have helped me reconnect to my passion for agriculture. Discovering that Israel is not only working to solve today’s agricultural problems but at the forefront of innovation allows me to believe I can make a difference back home.
Agriculture plays a key role in Judaism, from traditions to holidays it is woven into our culture and customs. As we walked the rows of carrots, tomatoes, and cucumbers we dug our hands into the the very soil that has molded who we are as people.
Today was a day of discoveries; discovering how our generation is changing our future one problem, one thought, and one solution at a time.