Volunteers work the fields in Binyamina.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Leket Israel – the national food bank – has announced the purchase of a field near Binyamina for the sole purpose of growing food for the poor.
The 4 hectares (10 acres) plot of land is projected to harvest some 500 tons of produce per year, which translates to feeding some 2,700 people daily.
Since 2003, the nonprofit “rescues” some 15,000 tons of produce for the needy annually, mostly coming from farms throughout Israel. The organization claims that this piece of land will be for “the purpose of growing additional crops in Binyamina to enrich the variety of produce Leket supplies as well as to guarantee that even when donations might decrease, before the holiday season, Leket will not be affected.”
“What makes the Binyamina initiative so unique is our ability to grow the most sought-after vegetables among Israeli society and to supply them to our 195 nonprofit partner agencies throughout the country,” explains, Joseph Gitler, Leket Israel’s founder and chairman.
Funding for this acquisition was provided by Pastor George Annadorai, director of Shalom Israel Asia Pacific (SIAP), a Christian pro-Israel organization based in Singapore.
“We are honored to stand alongside Leket Israel in bringing daily food to Israel’s needy. Thanks to Leket, there are thousands who go to bed at night with a full stomach, and that is why we were motivated to create an entire farm to grow produce exclusively for the poor,” said Annadorai.
Paul Leiba, Leket Israel’s vice president of resource development spoke with The Jerusalem Post and elaborated on the future of this farming space: “We are growing a range of things, sweet potatoes, corn, onions, beets: these are all items that are in high demand and now we have a chance to focus on produce that the nonprofits we work with actually want.”
The workforce will be a mix of full-time farmers and short-term volunteers. Fulltime farmers are responsible for the more intricate workings of the land including planting, fertilizing, water and fumigation.
The rest of the work, mainly harvesting and distribution will come from the estimated 8,000 volunteers from Israel and overseas, Leiba explains: “It will be a mixture of Israeli groups coming to volunteer plus a lot of overseas Jewish groups, such as family groups, bar mitzva trips, student groups and federation trips.”
Because the funding came from Christians outside of Israel, Leiba anticipates a large number of Christian volunteers as well.
In addition to the field, this initiative also features a greenhouse to grow high-demand Israeli staples: tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers for year-round distribution.
Leiba asserts: “We would like people who have less money to have the opportunity to have a balanced diet.
The ability to provide people with fresh produce is crucial in enabling them to have a healthy diet, instead of relying on cheap processed food.
When people don’t eat correctly, the get sick more often and function worse and that perpetuates a cycle of poverty and that’s why it’s important to provide these people with healthy fresh food to eat.”
The farm’s first harvest, sweet potatoes, is scheduled for October.