In time for Wednesday’s celebration of Tu Bishvat, the “New Year of the Trees,” the Education Ministry announced a NIS 1.7 million program that aims to double the number of students taking part in agricultural education.“In honor of Tu Bishvat, a holiday of patriotism and connection to the land, we are increasing the number of farms and renovating the existing ones that thousands of other students will enjoy a profound educational and agricultural experience,” said Education Minister Naftali Bennett. “As I have mentioned in the past, tests are important but values and heritage are key to the education of our children.”“Planting seeds and cultivating soil are educational activities that grow both the seedlings and the pupils. Together we will make this country bloom,” he said.The five-year plan aims to increase the number of farms participating in agricultural education and double the number of students studying on farms.Some 45 farms throughout the country currently participate, 19 of which are located in the North and in Haifa.The farms are connected to officially recognized schools. They serve as a “center of knowledge and experience” in agricultural and environmental sciences, the Education Ministry explained, and are subject to ongoing supervision by the ministry.During the current academic year, some 47,000 elementary-school students are expected to study and receive an agricultural education on one of these farms. As part of the agricultural program, pupils learn about agriculture, eco-preservation, farming, growing food and recycling. They also get hands-on experience planting seedlings, caring for plants and picking fruits and vegetables.Shmuel Abuav, the ministry’s director-general, said the curriculum allows for pupils to enjoy an “enriching and meaningful agricultural experience.”“We will expand the number of farms throughout the country and for all sectors so that on Tu Bishvat in five years we will allow 85,000 pupils to experience agriculture,” he said.As such, the ministry intends to renovate existing farms and build additional ones.Implementation of the plan will take place gradually, the ministry said, so that in five years’ time there will be 54 farms providing educational agricultural experiences to students throughout the country.