On Tu Bishvat, KKL-JNF's tree nurseries at the Golani Junction in northern Israel and the Gilat Junction in the south were the sites of a lively holiday celebration. People came from all over Israel, in groups and individually, to plant trees and learn about how trees are grown from seed, and to participate in the process. We visited the Golani nursery in the north, where guests were welcomed by Hiero Amareh, the director of the nursery, and his staff, along with KKL-JNF volunteers and guides.
One of the groups enjoying the unseasonably warm weather was from the Grabski Rehabilitation Center in Migdal Ha'emek for people with severe handicaps. We spoke with Rabbi Ze'ev Crombi, the director of the rehabilitation center, who told us that this was not the first time that the group was spending time with KKL-JNF. "The people in our center come from Migdal Ha'emek and from all over the country. We come here every Tu Bishvat, which is a very moving experience for us. Today, besides seeing how the nursery works, we'll be planting trees and rosemary, and then eating lunch here. We're very grateful to KKL-JNF for hosting us every year."
Amnon Levi, one of the group, used to be a KKL-JNF employee: "I am from Kibbutz Eilot, which is near Eilat in the far south. I actually used to work at a KKL-JNF tree nursery, at Eshtaol. Later I worked closer to my home. Planting trees with KKL-JNF on Tu Bishvat has become a tradition for us; a few years ago we planted at Beit Keshet. This year, we all received green ribbons and maps of the Carmel, where the huge fire took place"
One of the KKL-JNF guides told the groups about the seed-gathering process: "KKL-JNF has what we call our 'Alpine Unit'. Their job is to choose the best and healthiest trees of any given species, and to climb the treetops to gather seeds for future propagation. The seeds are then put into plastic bags, and the date and place where they were gathered are written on the bag. They are then planted and grown in the unique conditions provided them in KKL-JNF's nurseries until they are ready to be planted."
Smadar and Avraham Weismann are from Nes Tziyona, and they were visiting
the nursery with a group of forty-five people: "Our group was organized by the Rishon Letziyon Workers Council, in conjunction with El Al. It's perfect for me, because I love doing things in nature," Smadar said. Her husband Avraham added that he remembered putting coins that still had a hole in the middle of them into the KKL-JNF Blue Box as a child.
Hiero Amareh, the director of the nursery, said that the nursery grows over one hundred different species of trees, both fruit trees and also non-fruit bearing trees: "This is our expertise. We supply tree saplings not only for KKL-JNF forests, but for many different national and local offices. We also cooperate with the Ministry of Agriculture. Tu Bishvat is the perfect time to share what we do with the general public. It's very rewarding to see how planting tree saplings grown from seed, makes people so happy!"
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