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Lone Farm Program Program
Bolstering Presence in the Negev

 

Strengthening lone family farms while connecting young Israelis to their land, promoting mutual civic responsibility and preventing abandonment of thousands of acres of land.

 

3 farms in the Negev | 6-8 participants live in farms | 20-40 year-old participants | 90% reduction in incidents

The Lone Farm program embodies the HaShomerHaChadash spirit: "I am my brother's keeper". This resourceful and meaningful program strengthens lone family farms in the Negev struggling to survive while connecting young Israelis to their land, promoting mutual civic responsibility and preventing the abandonment and loss of thousands of acres of land. Farms and cattle ranches serve as the economic backbone of the Negev, fueling financial and social growth. Yet these isolated farms are beset with trouble from surrounding squatter tribes intent on ousting them from their land. Confronted on a daily basis with the stealing of herds, cutting of fences, destruction of crops and arson to hay and hundreds of acres of land, these farmers and ranchers lack the manpower and funds to cope under such conditions, many abandoning the land and region. The Lone Farm program brings vibrant and spirited young adults to live on these isolated farms, assisting the farmers and ranchers with their work while establishing a strong presence that effectively dissuades marauders. The program participants with a unique a unique and organic experience for them to consider life as farmers in the area. Ranging in age from 20 to 40 years old, these young adults live on the farms in renovated caravan units subsidized by the program; student participants receive tuition scholarships in addition to an accommodation grant. They help farmers with all daily tasks: feeding calves, picking fruit, herding sheep and mending broken fences, as well as self-initiated projects such as building gazebos and landscaping to make the farms more attractive and enjoyable. Participants become certified HaShomerHaChadash guardsmen and women patrolling the property at night. Their constant presence on the land, day and night, achieves its goal: in 2014, there was just one reported incident. "During my first year of med school, I lived and worked in a Lone Farm. The connection to the land one receives working outside everyday - taking the sheep grazing, sowing and reaping wheat fields - is personal and unique. Even after a few years of living elsewhere, you know you have a personal connection based on memories and emotions that you cannot develop by simply living somewhere without this work. It is an amazing thing to be able to help people who are unable to make a profit or even lead normal lives in the face of roaring agricultural crime. The connection I've created to this farm and its surroundings is best judged on the fact that I keep returning to volunteer every chance I get, bringing my friends to do the same, and having a great time doing so." – Danny Sela, Lone Farm Volunteer Through this program participants connect to the Zionist ethos of working and building the land as well as their civic responsibility of helping fellow citizens. The farmers receive tangible support and renewed hope for sustaining their farms and livelihoods, in turn ensuring the continued blossoming of the Negev.