Israel is primarily a desert country with few natural resources. Only a fifth of its land is arable, and more than half is made up of the Negev Desert. Likewise, the significant bodies of water in Israel are salt water, and rain is very sparse. So how is it then, that one of Israel’s top exports, agriculture, is a multi-billion dollar industry today?
There is a lot to learn from the Israeli people and their ability to adapt to the challenge of building an exceptional nation in the midst of an arid desert climate. And best of all, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved by partnering with one of the most significant movements directly.
Beginning with the End in Mind
Israel was re-established in 1948 on the principles of restoring the Holy Land. Though turmoil has characterized the region for centuries, early modern-day Israeli leaders saw hope for peace by building up what they have, rather than tearing down their enemies.
“For those who make the desert bloom, there is room for hundreds, thousands and even millions. And the destiny of the state is in the hands of the many rather than of a single individual… The State of Israel will prove itself not by material wealth, not by military might or technical achievement, but by its moral character and human values.” —Israeli Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion
The blooming desert that David Ben-Gurion refers to is the Negev, for which he saw enormous opportunity in restoring for his country and the world. Biblical passages also allude to God’s plan for restoring the desert, and this mission has brought both the Jewish people and their close allies together to fulfill the ancient prophecies of Amos and Isaiah, among others.
My Olive Tree fulfills the promises by organizing sponsorship opportunities to plant and sustain olive tree groves in the desert, providing protection for Israeli soldiers, a chance for kibbutz farmers to grow the land, and arable soil for growth and development. Where and why My Olive Tree plants these olive trees is entirely intentional. We are making God’s vision come to life, and with your help and His plan in mind, we are well on our way to restoring the Negev Desert.
“‘I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; they shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them; they shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them. I will plant them in their land, and no longer shall they be pulled up from the land I have given them,’ says the Lord your God.”—Amos 9:14-15
Israel is widely considered the world leader in water recycling. In fact, thanks to strategic advancements in technology and diplomacy, Israel has more water than it needs. There are three major methods Israel acquires water:
- Cooperating with Neighbors— Before the Israeli-Jordanian agreement of 1994, the two countries disputed access to drinking water from the Jordan and Yarmouk Rivers. These disputes caused both nations to overdraw the river, and during times of drought, both sides were without enough water. The agreement they made addressed these issues head-on, and the negotiators managed to come up with solutions that would benefit both parties.
They set limits as to how much water each country would draw seasonally, and also allowed for the countries to store water across borders. Today, none of the water levels in the Jordan River basin are as high as they were fifty years ago, but with cooperation and less dependence on the rivers, there is hope that the Jordan and Yarmouk will be recovered and restored to their former glory.
- Desalination Technology— Neither humans nor plants can safely drink seawater—unless, of course, it is processed to remove salt by way of a state-of-the-art desalination facility. Israel has an overabundance of water thanks to this technology.
The IDE Technology Sorek facility in Sorek, Israel is the largest and most advanced desalination facility in the world. It alone can provide water for 1.5 million people by processing seawater straight from the Mediterranean Sea. Thanks to desalination, Israel has been able to supply crops during droughts, providing plenty of water to not just their own, but to their neighbors as well.
- Recycling Raw Sewage— Believe it or not, Israel recycles 90% of its wastewater—the highest percentage in the world. (Spain claims second place with only recycling 20% and the United States recovers roughly 1%.) This technology can be costly, but having water accessible during droughts and dry seasons is critical to Israel’s agricultural success because it keeps production steady, as well as reliable.
The facilities can purify wastewater so thoroughly that humans can drink the processed water straight from the tap! Very impressive… but thankfully most of that water is used for crops!
Wherever the water comes from, the Israeli government ensures that it is purified, and My Olive Tree ensures that the water is brought to the trees that you sponsor.
Getting Ahead of the Competition
The chefs in the most popular and highly acclaimed European restaurants, only cook with the finest ingredients. But when tomatoes are out of season in the colder months, they must rely on greenhouse-grown produce, which tends not to be quite as flavorful as produce grown with soil and sunlight in a field. Because Israel has a warmer climate throughout the year, fresh produce is just a boat ride away, across the Mediterranean. As told by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
“…a large variety of flowers, fruit, and vegetables is locally grown, especially in warm areas that give farmers an early advantage in European markets. During the winter months, Israel is Europe's greenhouse.”
This early advantage helps provide neighbors with fresh produce throughout the year and stimulates the international economy by promoting trade.
Creating Lasting Partnerships
Nobody says it better than the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs…
“The secret of Israel's present agricultural success lies in the close interaction between farmers and government-sponsored researchers, who cooperate in developing and applying sophisticated methods in all agricultural branches, as well as technological advancement, new irrigation techniques, and innovative agro-mechanical equipment.”
My Olive Tree is proud to have partnered with the Israeli government for decades. We have worked closely with the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) and kibbutz farmers to plant olive trees and to provide them with necessary water so that they can grow well into fruition and maturity.
Of course, the secret to our success has been all about great partnerships. We are proud to call the Israeli government and the IDF close partners whose ingenuity, courage, and dedication have been transforming their country… but, moreover, we are proud to say the same of My Olive Tree sponsors like YOU, whose donations make everything we do possible.
We never ask of one of our sponsors to merely help us put the trees in the ground. Our relationship with our partners, as with our relationship to the trees that you sponsor, is ongoing, and our gratitude toward the legacy of your generosity is eternal—continuously blossoming throughout the desert.