SCARLET SOUTH FESTIVAL

The march was part of the Scarlet South Festival, which is held in the northern Negev and the Besor region during January and February,

By KKL
March 3, 2010 12:51
kkl

kkl. (photo credit: kkl)

 
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Walking with KKL-JNF on the Anemone March

Many hikers from all over Israel participated in the Anemone March at Nir Am commemorating Shoshana Damari, the legendary Israeli singer.  There were stations with explanations and activities for children all along the way, manned by KKL-JNF guides -young people volunteering for one year before joining the army.  They provided the children and their parents with information about Israel's water economy, protection of the environment, settlement, development of the Negev, and the local region, all in an experiential way.

The march was part of the Scarlet South Festival, which is held in the northern Negev and the Besor region during January and February, in conjunction with several organizations including KKL-JNF, the Sdot-Shikma-Besor Tourism Association, the Shaar Hanegev Local Authority, and the Parks and Nature Authority.  KKL-JNF, assisted by friends worldwide, has been developing the Negev for years, and the Scarlet South Festival is a focus for additional cooperation on behalf of the local residents.
Many families go south at this time of year to enjoy nature hikes and activities, and to see the carpets of anemones that color the Negev red.  Kilometers before the spot where the march begins, it is clear that this is going to be something special. There is a long queue of cars, the parking lot is packed with hundreds of vehicles, and streams of people can be seen making their way to the march.

There were three routes to choose from: short (3km), medium (5km) and long (7km), and one could expect a colorful and fragrant experience on them all.  Winter and spring enhance the Nir Am region with beautiful green meadows and flowers of all colors.

Among the people participating in the march was the Berg family from Moshav Nehora.  The father, Yuval, said, “We are enjoying the scenery and the wonderful trip.  The children love going out on such a beautiful day, and we adults enjoy it no less.  It is not just a trip.  We also learn new things at the KKL-JNF stations.”

The first station was situated across from the Nir Am reservoir, where the guide, Ran, explained about Israel’s water economy.  He spoke about the importance of water for the development of the Negev and described the important efforts of KKL-JNF and its friends worldwide to rehabilitate Israel’s water economy - building reservoirs and purification plants for effluents, regularizing the flow of Israel's streams and preventing flood damage.

A special explanation was dedicated to the Nir Am reservoir, which was built with help of friends of KKL-JNF Montreal, Canada.  Its volume is 1.5 million cubic meters, and it is fed by the effluents of the Dan region.  The water is processed for agricultural use. 70% of the fields in the Negev today are irrigated by effluents from the Dan region.  As a result, millions of liters of expensive potable water are saved.  As Ran explained, “Water is especially important for KKL-JNF and for the State of Israel, particularly during time of a continuous water crisis.  It is important for us to convey this message and to explain about KKL-JNF's contribution to the water economy and towards the settlement and development of the Negev.”

After the explanations, the march continued.  Although they had been somewhat baffled by the warm weather in mid-February, there were still a few anemones that could be seen along the way.  Many anemones had wilted early, and the chrysanthemums had taken over.  “This should have been called the Yellow South Festival,” one of the hikers commented with a smile.



Nira came from Kfar Saba to join the march with her three children - Danielle (8), Shachar (5), and Itai, only one month old.  Danielle said, “It’s great to be here.  I even found some anemones.”  Danielle showed us where we could find anemones, so we could see the red flowers that gave the festival its name.

The next station was the scenic lookout in memory of Asaf Siboni, who was killed at the age of 20, in the 1997 helicopter disaster, along with 72 of his friends.  From this point one could enjoy a panoramic view and hear about the vicinity, where the soil is composed of coarse sand and red loam, which is favorable for diverse flora including anemones, rockroses, honeysuckles, chrysanthemums, buttercups, irises and squills. Fauna also proliferate in this region, from deer to porcupines.  Average annual rainfall is about 400mm.

An information station further along the way focused on the construction of the very first water pipeline in the Negev.  This was no tiresome history lecture but a fun activity for the kids.  They got ropes and pipe segments and had to make a long pipeline together.  “It was not easy to connect the first pipeline either,” said Elad, the guide.

After establishing the first eleven villages in the Negev, it was clear that in order to sustain life in those settlements, they had to have a water supply.  The first Negev pipeline was made of six-inch pipes that were especially thick to prevent damage.  The pipes were purchased in London after World War II, where they had been used to quench fires during the German bombardment of England.  Because of their high cost, they were called “champagne pipes.” David Ben-Gurion, a leader known for his modesty, did not consider them luxuries. “Without this pipeline,” he said, “we could not have held on to the Negev.”

The Borlakov family from Netanya came with an organized group of Bank Leumi employees. “We really enjoyed this visit to nature,” said Natalie, the mother, “and we were thrilled to see how interested the children were in the information provided all along the way.”

At the next information station, the children learned about protecting flora.  Noa, the guide, is a resident of nearby Kibbutz Ruchama, and knew the terrain well since she was a child.  For her presentation, she prepared a field of cardboard flowers and asked the kids questions.  For each correct answer, the kids were awarded a flower.  Four-year-old Lianne from Yavne, who had participated with great enthusiasm, concluded, “We saw many flowers on the way, and they explained that we can’t pick them.  I love flowers.”  Yossi Buchnik, Lianne’s father said, “We enjoyed the march very much, and the explanations about the area and about nature along the way added to our experience.”

The circular route ended where it had started, near the Nir Am Water Museum.  This had been the starting point of the Negev pipeline.  The Museum and the Visitors Center were built within a round pool, and the entrance is through a giant water pipe.  Inside, there was an exhibition that made the history of water in the Negev tangible: searching for water sources, settlement, agriculture, security.  KKL-JNF was mentioned for its part in purchasing lands and preparing them for settlement and agriculture, its afforestation of the Negev, and its significant contribution in building reservoirs.

When the march ended, everyone was invited to a colorful happening for children.  The event was concluded by a memorial ceremony for Shoshana Damari, whose famous song “Anemones” (kalaniyot) had inspired the march's name.

For Articles, comments or use please contact

                                                              Ahuva Bar-Lev

KKL-JNF – Information and Publications

Email: ahuvab@kkl.org.il

                                       Phone: 972-2-6583354 Fax:972-2-6583493

www.kkl.org.il/eng


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