Farmland Watch Program
My Brother's Keeper
>>Providing substantial support to farmers in need, resulting in zero abandonment of land.
1,100 trained volunteers | 22-80 year-old volunteers | 58,127 hours of watch time annually |45 locations across the Negev and Galilee | 67,320 acres of at-risk land secured
The Farmland Watch program assists farmers and ranchers in safeguarding land and livestock from persistent theft and vandalism. Established in 2007, this volunteer-based program, conceptually similar to the Neighborhood Watch program in the U.S., has proven invaluable in safeguarding the land while instilling mutual responsibility and developing a more tolerant and cohesive society. The program is grounded in observation posts manned by volunteers ranging in age from 22 to 80 years old, and reflects the mosaic of Israeli society: men and women, religious and secular, native and migrant. They come from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, RishonLeZion and Hadera, Kibbutzim and Moshavim - all with the common goal of agriculturists. Volunteers create a visible presence on the land, patrolling acres by foot and by car, building campfires and discussing Jewish and Zionist principles till dawn. Volunteers are unarmed, their continuous presence alone effectively deterring raiders. Today there are 45 posts strategically located across the Negev and the Galilee. Maintained by 1,100 trained volunteers, these posts effectively prevent the abandonment of over 67,320 acres of at-risk land. Each volunteer commits to a minimum of six to twelve nights a year; in 2014, volunteers clocked in 60,000 hours of watch time. Run in partnership and close cooperation with local municipalities and 15 relevant authorities, the Farmland Watch program has demonstrably reduced the number of reported theft and arson. The program provides tangible support to the farmers and ranchers, strengthening their resolve and resulting in zero abandonment of land. Equally, it provides the volunteers with the opportunity to give to their countrymen and connect with a diverse range of Israelis who share the common goal of safekeeping the land. A compelling case demonstrating the impact and significance of the Farmland Watch program is illustrated in the life story of Yehuda Marmur. A third-generation rancher, Yehuda raises cattle on 1,260 acre of pastures in a moshavYavniel, founded by his grandparents. After years of threats to his family, destruction of property, burning of fodder, theft of livestock, seizure of land, and even an attempt on his life by a neighboring criminal family, Yehuda resigned himself to selling his herd and abandoning the land. Learning of the situation, HaShomerHaChadash built a post on his ranch, manning it with volunteers that create a clear presence, patrolling his property four to five nights a week, protecting his herd during the day, and standing watch against arson attempts. Despite the continued danger and hardship, Yehuda perseveres because of a personal obligation to his family and heritage - an obligation he admittedly would not be able to uphold had it not been for HaShomerHaChadash's presence.