Tent of Nations Farm
People Building Bridges
Summer 2015 Newsletter
It has been a while since you’ve last heard from us but we are still here working hard to achieve justice. We would like to share with you the latest news about the Tent of Nations farms including the legal situation, the challenges on the ground, and our hope to keep moving forward in a very difficult political reality.
The political situation is getting more difficult. Land confiscation is going on and on for building new settlements and/or expanding the existing ones. The wall is continuing to be built, especially now in the Bethlehem area, and is separating farmers from their own land. The settlements around the Tent of Nations farm are also expanding, making the Palestinian villages more isolated. According to The Settlement Watch article published on 23/07/2015: “The Sub-Committee for Settlements for the Higher Planning Committee of the military’s civil administration met on 22.7.2015 and approved the construction of a religious school (Yeshiva) near the Neve Daniel Settlement, which will be a short walk away from the Tent of Nations, near where the road is blocked. If this would happen, the Tent of Nations would become more isolated, which means more challenges for us.
Last February, the Supreme Court sent our case again to the Military Committee and the latter demanded us to start a new process of re-registering our land. We had to prepare the documents and a new land survey. The application was submitted on April 20th, 2015. As of today, we are still waiting for an answer.
Recently, we received another demolishing order for a cistern. It is a frustrating situation for us, especially when we see that while the settlements around us are expanding, we have difficulties and restrictions working on our own land that we have owned since 1916.
We also heard that the new trees that we planted have been threatened to be uprooted and we are trying to stop that legally. We have to keep believing that, at the end, justice will prevail.
We will keep you updated regarding any urgent development about the land issue as well as the building of the new religious school close to the road block. Please do not take any action unless you hear from us. We will inform you if, when, and what kind of actions are needed.
During the winter months, we prepared a big area of land and planted it with trees. We are glad that we were able to plant 4,000 new trees and replaced the ones that were destroyed last year. We will keep planting trees as a sign of hope for a better future.
We are watering the newly planted trees once a week just to keep some humidity in the ground so that the trees survive the hot months. We might have to buy water.
We already prepared another area of land for future tree planting. Our plan is to plant 3,000 grape trees this coming October. We want to be able to produce more grape juice and syrup. By increasing the farm production, our goal is to make the farm self-sustainable.
Special thanks to all people who sponsored or/and planted trees. Thank you so much in helping to keep hope alive.
Usually, in June, we have the apricot and the apple harvest, but because of the destruction of our fruit trees last May, this year we did not have a harvest. In July, we had the almond harvest but it was a bad harvest this year. Today (September 4th) is the last day of the grape harvest. We are making jam and grape syrup out of the grapes. The fig harvest is still going on in September, and at the end of October we will have the olive harvest. Our farm shop will be full of products from the farm. We are very excited for this.
Special thanks to all volunteers who came from different countries and helped us during the harvest season.
We began developing better infrastructure for the animals. A new fence is being built around the animal farm. We hope to buy more chickens, goats, and sheep to increase the productivity, but also for other purposes, especially during our children summer camps.
Last spring, we expanded our solar energy system; new panels were installed as well as a new invertor. Now the system is producing 10 KW of electricity, which is enough for now. The only thing is that we couldn’t add new batteries to the existing old ones but we will wait until the old ones have to be replaced in order to buy more new batteries. Still, we have a plan to install small wind mills for generating electricity and to charge the batteries during the night. After we stopped using our Diesel generator in 2009, we managed to save more than $45,000 for fuel expenses. Special thanks to all sponsors who helped in this project that made the farm in terms of energy completely independent.
Each year, we increased our rain water collection capacity in order to have enough water for agriculture. We are working now on increasing our water collection capacity in order to become independent in terms of water.
We renovated a new cave to be used to host more volunteers on the farm. In addition, a new tent in the valley, a sitting place, and an outside kitchen are being developed.
We are still working on renovating the new community room for volunteers. Children from the summer camp in July decorated the walls with mosaics and wonderful paintings.
The filtration system and biofuel project have not yet been completed. Those kinds of projects will help the farm to be self-sustainable.
The Children’s Summer Camp July 2015
From the 20th until the 31st of July, we had our fourteenth children summer camp under the title: With Heart and Hand, We Change the Land. We had 25 international and local volunteers who worked with the Bethlehem-area children. The Brass for Peace group also participated and children made music on brass instruments. With this camp, and through creative workshops, our goal was to let the children discover their talents, focus on their positives, and believe that they are able to shape their futures.
On the last day of the camp, we invited the parents and friends to see what their kids had done during the summer camp. Children were showing their parents around and the parents were encouraged by their children. Special thanks to all volunteers who came and helped in making our children summer camp very successful.
Bent Al Reef Women’s Project
The Bent Al Reef Women’s project finished it’s year in the beginning of June. It was great to see the fruits of the work that Jihan and other volunteers had done. The women took English and computer classes, as well as art workshops. They also worked on recycling plastic bags and crocheting them into purses, bags, and baskets. They made recycled broken glass into stained art pieces. The hope is to raise more awareness about environmental issues and to encourage those women to be active in taking better care of the environment.
The project will start again on the 7th of September 2015 after 3 months of summer break.
Guest Groups and Volunteers
Between March and August 2015, we welcomed many volunteers from different countries who came to spend some time helping on different projects. A special thanks to all who came and offered their time to help.
Last week we had to say goodbye to Johannes and Simon from Germany who spent a year on the farm living in a cave. We appreciate the presence and the help of volunteers very much.
Volunteers are always welcome to come and help. For more information about volunteering at the Tent of Nations, please check our website at www.tentofnations.org .
In the last months, many visitors came to see the Tent of Nations, to hear its story and challenges but also to learn about hope in action. It is encouraging to see the number of visitor groups increasing.
Thank to everyone who came to visit the Tent of Nations and learn about the work we are doing.
On the 20th of October we will start the olive harvest and we are expecting some new volunteers to help with the harvest.
End of October, we will start planting 3000 new grape trees. Volunteers are welcome to come and help in planting.
From May 9-12, 2016, we will be having our 100 Years Celebration, which will commemorate a 100 years of Nassar family presence on the land. Friends are welcome to come and join us for a week of celebrations, which will include various activities, field trips, and workshops. We will be sending out an invitation very soon.
For more information, please check our website www.tentofnations.org, and our Facebook page: Tent of Nations/Nassar Farm. We would love to see you here!
Finally, we would like to thank you all for your prayers, support, and solidarity.
Blessings and Salaam,
Tent of Nations – People Building Bridges