JNF WIRE REPORT
The Arava Continues to Produce
New Discoveries in the Desert
By: Tania Pons-Allon
In its 116 year history, Jewish National Fund has not only turned barren, unsown lands into forests and green hills, it also offers the people of Israel the opportunity to form a true connection to the land, by planting a tree and laying new roots in the soil of this still young nation.
In the Central Arava, a region located in the south of Israel along the Jordanian border between Be’er Sheva and Eilat, one will not find the vast pine and oak forests so commonly seen across central and northern Israel, but rather hothouses scattered between ridges and valleys. It is in those structures that the sweetest fruits and vegetables grow thanks to the most advanced techniques and high-tech methods available.
In a dry, parched region with less than 1-inch of rainfall a year, extreme climate, brackish water and barren land, the pioneers of the Arava set their minds to establish an agricultural dream—with JNF backing them all the way. Since the first days of the Arava’s settlement in the late 1950's, JNF has worked tirelessly to transform arid desolate soil into fertile gardens through research and development, and the hothouses and fields of the Central Arava are a true testament of JNF's "green thumb."
It is often said that the greatest creations are made when there are strict boundaries or challenges in place. This certainly holds true for the Central Arava, where despite restrictions and difficulties, farmers and researchers have managed to cultivate and adapt fruits and vegetables to the desert’s habitat, and even introduce new crops to local farmers.
Some of these innovative crops were on display at the recent Arava Open Day, an annual agricultural event and the largest agricultural exhibition in Israel, in the community of Hatzeva.