Center for Sustainable Agriculture

CSA staff

ELAINE SOLOWEY Director of Center for Sustainable Agriculture elaine.solowey@arava.org

YAIR WAHLE Co-Director yair@arava.org

I had a very positive academic experience at the Arava Institute. It was very different than university. At the Institute I felt that the professors really cared about the students and taught their subjects with passion. Their passion made me passionate. I particularly enjoyed studying with Elaine Solowey and her class about sustainable agriculture where we learned about the effects of global climate change and in response learned to create and maintain our own garden in the Arava desert.

Eliana Farber, Fall ’14 & Spring ’15

The Center for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA), directed by Dr. Elaine Solowey and Yair Wahle, is a vital player in the field of desert agriculture and sustainable agriculture in the Middle East and the world. Dedicated to the investigation and preservation of arid lands and their natural resources, the CSA works collaboratively with leading academic institutions in the region.

Dr. Solowey’s research began in the Experimental Orchards at Kibbutz Ketura, first planted in 1975. Today this research is the foundation for important new applications in botanical medicine, crop development, conservation, and sustainable agriculture. Her work covers a wide range of subjects including the study of endangered medicinal herbs, the search for crops that can be grown in arid and saline soil, and the propagation of local endangered plants not only to protect their population, but also to investigate their preferred conditions and potential values, such as medicine.

In 2015, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority recognized the Experimental Orchards as a shelter garden for endangered plant species.

RESEARCH PROJECTS INCLUDE:

Six new ancient date trees

After the successful germination of a 2,000 year old date seed ("Methuselah") in 2005, six additional trees, including two females, have been grown from ancient date seeds.

SHELTER GARDEN

In collaboration with the Keren Kolot tourism program of Kibbutz Ketura, this conservation garden will promote education, tourism, and desert agriculture by creating an oasis of diverse species of local, biblical, and international origin.

METHUSELAH

The sprouting of a 2,000 year old date seed that grew into a famous tree named “Methuselah”

DEVELOPING A COMMERCIAL CROP

The research aims to understand the tree’s physiology, fruiting and flowering cycles, genetics, propagation, soil needs, and general environment that support the tree’s flourishing.

MIDDLE EAST MEDICINAL PLANTS (MEMP)

This long term project aims to protect and propagate the rare medicinal and biblical plants of the Southern Negev and Dead Sea area.

INCENSE TREES

A few species of incense trees were studied to understand medicinal properties and conservation of native species; these species also hold a strong cultural value relating to their use in the Bible.

SEED BANK

The seed bank specializes in an extensive collection of seeds sustainably collected from native annuals, shrubs, and trees of the Arava, Negev, and high Negev.

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