The Story of the Galilee Food ForestsEducating on transition towards sustainability
Story by Uri AntebiA graduate of Tel Hai Academic College B.Sc Environmental Science. Believes in the acceptance of others, the varied and different.
It All Started Back in 2015…
It started in 2015 when 6 of us, then students and staff at Tel-Hai academic college, attended a lecture about food forests.
We Realized that Food forests are rich and diverse ecosystems that serve as healing agents in preserving water, soil & wildlife, and therefore, decided to transform our insights to reality.
“Galil food forests” was formally established on june 2016, with future generations in mind, to promote and plant food forests – an alternative organic agricultural method mimicking a natural forest ecosystem.
Our vision is to caretake for public lands, restore balance to the Galilee’s eco-system, and make the region a leader in sustainable agriculture, and a producer of healthy food for the local community.
After we have located a suitable land and received permit from the regional council to cultivate and care for it, we are planting our first forest. The forest is open for the community and functions as an educational and eco-tourism center. We design & plant restorative eco-systems, host events, workshops and run a volunteer program.
We formulated our collective vision and goals, and our NPO now consists of 30 members, with over 50 activists & volunteers.
It takes a Village to raise a child.
It takes a Forest to nurture and grow a healthy tree.
Who Benefits from Our Work
The main beneficiaries are the local community, the natural wildlife, and future generations.
By creating food forests that mimic the local natural ecosystem we are able to restore balance, while providing shelter and abundance to the wildlife. As a result of bringing local biodiversity closer to its original potential, we are creating a more resistant and fertile ecosystem.
Our current project, “HaKoren food forest”, was created with and for the community.
By offering natural space for social events, community activities, guided tours and professional workshops, we offer a meaningful connection with the land.
Creating a net of food forests will provide clean air, fertile soil and fresh, local and organic food for the community.
We aim to help other communities in the future, those whom are interested in developing food forests or other ecological projects.
While planting abundant flourishing ecosystems managed by an active and aware community, the true and main beneficiaries are the generations to come.
Decision Making & Roles in Our Organisation
The NPO management board steers the organization and the team leaders towards our common goals.
We have monthly meetings with all members and volunteers, in which we discuss future actions, and base our decisions on current updates and initiatives received from everyone. All decisions are made by a democratic vote, in a process of sharing knowledge, ideas, vegetarian dinners and visions of our future.
We work in teams that meet on a weekly basis in order to collaborate on 4 main domains:
1.NPO Management 2.Education 3.Designing and Forestry 4.Community consolidation. These domains are managed by team leaders, which consist of educators of sustainability, permaculture and agroforestry.
We support our team’s well-being by first of all providing a caring and stress free work environment, for example, we start out every field work day with a short meditation, which allows a strong connection with nature and the inner self.
In addition to that, we are providing an equal opportunity to everyone who wishes in joining our group to express their unique gift.
Our work environment is one of equality, sharing and friendship. Anyone can attend our meetings and become an active member. We’re a group of individuals with many different talents who make decisions together and believe in multi-connections and collaborations.
Regeneration of Natural Resources
Regeneration and natural resources are our core values, and the reason of becoming an NPO.
The Galilee is a region of intense agriculture and tourism, both leaving a heavy footprint on this sensitive and natural part of Israel’s nature.
Our first food forest is located on a patch of land that was burned down 10 years ago during a tragic warzone bombings. We are combining biomimicry of nature with modern technologies in order to plant a healthy forest, with all of its interconnected relations, complexity and beauty.
We use methods of water preservation such as digging swales in order to hold the rainwater in the ground. We also use local ancient techniques for planting heirloom varieties & trees, these methods are allowing for the saplings to acclimate and reach groundwater faster so they will be able to flourish on their own. We use mulch for ground cover to reduce water vapor.
By planting a network of food forests, encouraging and educating local farmers about natural agriculture, and by leading ecotourism as an alternative, we will improve the quality of the river water, which hold a great significance, decrease the air pollution and raise biodiversity.
Supporting Social Regeneration
Food forests create abundance which naturally leads to:
Natural products are more accessible and affordable
Strengthening community health, well-being and resilience
As an eco-NPO we welcome diversity and our meetings are open for everyone, Most of the leading team are women.
Once a month we hold a public activity free for the local community, in order for that anyone can participate.
We are openly welcoming networking and everyone is invited to participate in our ongoing work and many of them indeed come to our monthly meetings, events and work days. Working together in promoting these goals is the best way for improving social connections, resilience, exchanging knowledge and ideas, and getting to know each other beyond the exterior labels. Caring for the environment, for our food, for nature, brings us all together. Our forest is on a public ground open and accessible to all.
Supporting Economic Regeneration
Israel is in the forefront of hi-tech agriculture worldwide but still many independent farmers leave a lot of uncultivated land, even uprooting trees and leaving the earth bare, arid and vulnerable to the wind and sun. High maintenance costs and a huge gap between the consumer price to what the farmer actually receives, along with growing import of cheap fresh produce from overseas makes small-scale agriculture unprofitable in Israel today. Even the larger agro companies rely on government aid and subsidies.
We believe in creating an alternative model for agriculture and finding and formulating new models of growing our food. This natural model of creating diverse, regenerative, stable ecosystems which demand less and less inputs and irrigation over time, and are not based on chemicals are more suitable to Israel’s arid climate, and will be more economically stable. This also encourages direct-agriculture which strengthens the local economy and community as consumers get to know and buy food directly from their neighbors.
We are as transparent as possible, and as expected of us by law. As an NPO we are obliged to write and send a yearly financial report – signed by an accountant and a lawyer – to the Israeli cooperation authority.
Our data and reports are managed and presented in a shared cloud, located on google drive. All NPO members are free to access and view the data.
Our annual budget, reports and major decision making are presented and approved in front of the general assembly where all members are invited.
Connections with other organisations
We are in constant touch with the local authorities, such as the Upper Galilee regional Council, JNF-KKL, Drainage Authority, Antiquities Authority, National Parks & Nature Authority
We’re connected and encouraged by the Sustainable Global Leadership Academy, IPC INDIA 2017, Tel-Hai college, Israeli Permaculture association, Israeli Food Forest Forum.
We’re in contact with local Schools, hotels, organic farms, permaculture projects.
We’re connected to the israeli public sector, through civil leadership organization.
Finally, we are all local residents of the region, active within our communities.
Towards a Recplicapable Model
Having the ability to teach, share, and spread our techniques with everyone, is one of our foundation stones.
We offer aid to similar projects, and we are committed to sharing and contributing from our own experience.
We organize events for various audiences, including farmers, and provide voluntary consulting for businesses and schools on sustainability transitioning.
We mentor and accompany landowners in converging damaged agricultural land into lasting sustainable agriculture.
Our website is under construction! it’s a big project… Not only are we planting A PUBLIC FOOD FOREST for future generations.. but we’re also setting up a strong online presence to inspire and educate for local and global sustainability. we would surely appreciate some help contact us today to see how you can contribute!
© 2018 Galil Food Forest.