Living at Chava v’Adam ecological farm changed my life. Instead of staying for only the first program, which was September until February, I decided to stay for another five months and participate in the second program as well. I thrived while living an ecological life.
We grew, harvested, and cooked the food we grew. Before any of the meals, which were all communal, you could see people in the fields harvesting baby greens, or squash for that night’s meal, or that day’s lunch. It was a beautiful sight. The food was so fresh, so tasty, and often times because we had to make due with what we grew, always a surprise.
The food was the not main focus of the program, though. The community of people in which I lived with was really what made the program special. We lived in geodesic domes, with two people to each dome, in a neighborhood near the farm. We had our own kitchen, showers (one made out of mud that made you feel like you were in the tropics taking an outdoor shower), and compost bathrooms. This was our little community amidst the larger community, which was the farm.
There were ten other participants living on the farm, ten Israelis doing a year of service before the army, some people doing national service, and a couple of permanent residents, plus a never- ending revolving door of volunteers. All together at any given time there were about 30 people living on the farm, but during the day with the kindergartens and other school groups visiting, there could be up to 100 people on the farm.
I spent most of my time with my fellow Ecos, learning, growing, and working together. We would get up in the morning, and eat a communal breakfast with just the 10 of us. One person would help make lunch downstairs, and the rest of us would either go to class or work in the gardens. When you heard the “roo-koo-koo” you knew that meant lunch was ready and the whole farm would sit under a tree that provided the only shade on the farm. After a moment of silence, we would eat an amazing organic lunch. We would take a break in the midday, and then work for the rest of the day. Two people would cook dinner, and after eating together, we had the rest of the day to ourselves. It was a simple, but challenging life.
Nothing was easy, but it was the kind of hard work that made you feel good. I felt good. For the first time in my life, I had to just think about my life, about what life means, about Israel, and what I was doing in this wonderous country. We lived on all solar energy, so needless to say there were no TVs, or any sort of electronic entertainment. I talked to people. I connected to other people on the program and on the farm and made lifelong friends. I learned more about myself, who I was, and my connection with the earth and with Israel, than I had before in my life.
I left the farm when the second program was over, knowing that I would never again have such a magical experience in my life. At times it was difficult, like when it was raining, or the sun wasn’t out and we had to take cold showers. But it was also rewarding to go into the fields and harvest a cabbage, beet, or pea, knowing that I seeded, watered, and fertilized it, and helped it grow.