By Allison Levine Speiser
My husband calls it a farm. I beg to differ. Although, to be fair, we are currently growing carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, garlic, eggplant, onions, fennel, artichokes, grapes, raspberries and radishes (not to mention over 25 fruit trees), but I digress. We live in a region of the country called Ramat HaNegev – a part of the country that sees about 80 mm (3.15 inches) of rain per year. Gardening here is a little bit more of a challenge, but it is also a bit more rewarding.
I was always into gardening in America. A collection of seed catalogs, well-marked up in black pen, was always sat on my coffee table. I had a nice green lawn, a bit of a vegetable patch, rose bushes, and gladiolas. Each spring, I waited to see crocuses pop up through the last season’s snow. For us, moving to Israel and finding where we were going to settle down was always about putting down roots – both spiritually and physically.
In our first apartment in Israel, we rented a place that we knew we weren’t going to stay in, and it was hard for me not to invest too much of my time and energy developing a garden knowing we would be leaving.
When we moved to the Negev, and specifically to a new community, it was exciting for so many reasons. It was a chance to give our kids an amazing quality of life, an opportunity to be part of something new, a real physical way to build the land, and a chance to create my dream garden. We bought a building lot of 750 square-meters which, even after building a house, left plenty of space for gardening. Everything is connected to a drip irrigation system – a brainchild of an Israeli technology development that is now helping countries around the world save water. Each year our Yishuv welcomes all the new families with a gift of a plant to start their own garden.
It’s pretty amazing watching your kids dig potatoes from the ground or picking flowers whenever I want. It’s a literal interpretation of Ben-Gurion’s dream to make the desert bloom. Moving to Israel means different things to different people – whether it’s living in Jerusalem or sitting on the beach at sunset. For me it was having a little bit of earth to call my own, and finally putting my roots here.