Thursday, March 23, 2017

Hodgepodge 145/365 - Kibbutz Lotan

Today we visited the Reform kibbutz Lotan, in the Arabah Valley of the Negev Desert, north of Eilat. Founded in 1983, it is one of the last kibbutzim to be established in Israel (the first was Degania, founded in 1909). Lotan bills itself as "an Eco-Jewish intentional, collective community based on a creative approach to egalitarian Judaism and a deep commitment to environmental protection." Part of its program is to provide instruction in sustainability and green principles through its Center for Creative Ecology. We got a brief tour of parts of the center today. Here are a few photos from our visit.

Maya was calmly making signs in the midst of our
introduction to the workings of Kibbutz Lotan.

Mark came to Lotan from Australia in 1989. Here he's
describing the kibbutz's various composting programs:
the small bins are kitchen waste, and the big ones are part of the
composting toilet system.

The kibbutz isn't 100 percent self-sustaining, but
growing their own food and making rich soil in
the desert sands are a big focus.

Giant radishes.

Lush garden. Remember: this is in the middle of the Negev Desert.
(As a side note, drip irrigation was invented on an Israeli kibbutz.)

I enjoyed this poster introducing all of the chickens in the coop.

The kibbutz's "two pillars" are to "till and tend"
(Genesis 2:15). Here the Midrash explains
the idea more fully: "When God created the first
human beings, God led them around the Garden
of Eden and said: 'Behold how good and excellent are
the works that I have created. For your sake I
created them all. See to it that you do not spoil
and destroy my world; for if you do, there will
be no one else to repair it.' "

They also build mud-and-straw-bale buildings. Here Mark
describes the concept. "Good feet and a good hat" are important
to protect the mud—which additionally is covered
with used cooking oil for further weather-proofing.

These huts were built by students who come for six months
at a time to learn sustainable techniques. They are
geodesic domes with a vestibule. The straw-bale
construction makes them very well insulated,
important in both winter (it gets cold in the desert)
and summer (it gets hot!). And yes, that is R2D2.

The inside of one of the cottages, with its "open beam" ceiling.

Whimsical facade.

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