Farmer Profile: Saul Rokach
Farm: Organic Green or Yarok 2000
Number of Agrostudies students: 4 (Zambia & Tanzania)
The Organic Green farm, or Yarok 2000 as it is more commonly known, is different from the farms we’ve profiled so far.
It was established three years ago under the management of Saul Rokach who had spent the better part of thirty years farming in the hot and dry Arava region. The farm was originally intended as an touristic, social farm but it quickly grew to unexpected size and success.
Parts of it are still being renovated, such as an area for events and seminars, mostly about organic farming, which is the farms’ and Saul’s focus. There will also be a store there to sell the farm’s produce. The store will only sell organic produce.
One of the strongest impressions you get as you walk by the farm area is the great variety, not just in the plants, but in the growing methods. Alongside open fields are greenhouses and plots, a hydroponic and an aeroponic system.
Yarok 2000 is a company that carries out large projects abroad. They sell equipment and seeds to companies in Israel and in Europe. At Organic Green they test the different seed strands in different conditions, climates and growing methods. “Just because a plant grows well in one type of soil doesn’t mean it’ll grow the same somewhere else. We have many different types of tomatoes, bell peppers, red, yellow, orange and many others.”
Organic growing methods are another parameter that is being tested at the farm and with great success.
Outside the greenhouses is a young wine vineyard. Organic wine is made at Kfar Vitkin not far away.
The orchard has 35 types of trees, all of the grown in organic methods. In between the trees is a plethora of weeds, something you don’t usually see on most farms on this scale. Saul explains that in conventional farming this is completely unacceptable. The farmers use herbicide to prevent the weeds from growing, however no studies show that the effects of herbicide on the ground quality is disastrous.
“Obviously the organic method works in everything related to ground conservation.” Saul says, “The conditions here have improved since I began my work here three years ago and I know that in 10-15 years we’ll see an even better improvement. But it’s psychological for most farmers, the idea of seeing herbs between your trees. It takes time to get used to it, but everyone is slowly realizing the immensity of this thing”.
“The distance between organic and non-organic growing methods is constantly growing smaller. It’s not a symmetrical movement. The conventional farmers have reduced the amount of substances they use by dozens of percentages.”
We have a long talk about organic methods, permaculture, conventional growing methods and the sustainability of each method. He has a wealth of information that he plans on sharing through the seminars and workshops that will take place on the farm. Knowledge that he is already sharing with the company’s clients who visit this farm and tour it to see the farming done in reality and real time results. He is also sharing it with the four lucky Agrostudies students who are interning on his farm and who have insight not only into the growing methods but to testing and assessing seed, plant and fruit quality using the most up-to-date methods and international standards.
So what’s the bottom line? Saul puts in well in his words:
“The thing about organic growing, it’s really all about saving this planet for the future generations”.