With a handful of seeds and a lot of hard work, a plot of empty dirt can become a place for fruitful social gathering. Community gardens allow neighbors to get to know one another and build new connections through working together to care for plants and sharing responsibility for the green space.
The Dror Israel Educators’ Kibbutz in Rehovot, together with the city’s municipality, recently ran a course for current and aspiring community garden organizers in Rehovot. The course ran from Rosh Hashanah to Chanukah and its weekly meetings brought together 30 participants from the diverse populations of the city – young people and seniors, Orthodox and secular Jews, and more.
The course trained participants to become local leaders who can establish a community garden in their neighborhood or building. The gardens will help bring their community together to get their hands dirty, watch their plants grow, eat the literal fruits of their labors, and simply have a nice green space for events and informal gatherings like birthdays, Shabbat, and holidays.
During the course, participants toured various gardens and talked to experienced gardeners. But their preparation went beyond agriculture- through meetings with Dror Israel’s local educators, they learned about how to bring community members together around a common goal and empower people to bring their ideas to fruition.
Dror Israel’s Tom Shay knows first-hand the incredible potential of community gardens to bring people together. In addition to teaching in the urban-agriculture vocational track at Dror Israel’s Tel Aviv high school, Tom has been a leader at his neighborhood garden for years. He brought this passion to the course’s participants, inspiring them to see themselves as leaders and activists, not only gardeners.
Prior to the course, there were 4 community gardens in Rehovot. Through the course, another 3 were established, with 5 more planned on the way! Especially in urban spaces like Rehovot, these green spaces are a breath of fresh air for local residents. Neighbors of all ages will be able to escape the city’s noise and bustle amidst the garden’s rows.
The gardens are already bringing people together in green (and soon-to-be-green!) spaces throughout Rehovot. Soon, neighborhood kids will be able to munch on a healthy snack of fresh, garden grown veggies!