The Humanitarian Farm ... A Philosophy of Sustainable Lifestyle
By Ruba Anabtawi
integrated vegetables' farming inside hay
Exclusive to Environment and Development Horizons:
The idea started during a meeting with a farmers group in northern West Bank. The meeting focused on the importance of moving away from chemicals in agriculture towards a healthy environment. The group’s ideas were wedged in the mind of agricultural engineer Saad Dagher. Saad, inspired, wanted to translate the ideas into a philosophy and the philosophy into a reality. His inspiration lead him to write on the importance of ecologically sound agriculture mixed with healthy lifestyle and meditation, to establish a sustainable foundation in sufficiency. He called the philosophy “Agriculture for Humanity”. He wanted to apply the philosophy of "Agriculture for Humanity" by applying it to a piece of land. The “Agriculture for Humanity” reality is on 50 dunums in his village, "Mazare’e –el- Nobani", north of Ramallah. He has a vision of turning this majestic property that is also used agriculturally into a haven. This haven will be self-sustained and will open a new door on Eco- tourism in Palestine. There are springs and wells for drinking and irrigation. There are ancient cisterns and artifacts that can be utilized. He has innovated an idea to use already existing natural features like caves as dwellings or places for meditation. His philosophy is impressive, he has shaped an application of ecological ideas, sustenance and harmony.
Saad has employed techniques with the earth’s well being at heart. His techniques utilize what is available along with the least amount of disrupting the environment. His first technique is by employing the method of “Zero Tillage”. This method eliminates tilling of fields. The upturning and removal of greenery i.e. weeds is detrimental to the soil. It helps with the evaporation, in turn the dehydration. Whereas Zero Tillage helps to preserve the moisture of the soil, and prevent evaporation by keeping a layer of rooted growing grass along with leaving the cut grass on the soil. The cut branches of the trees are also used to help with preventing evaporation by placing them around and on the tree’s trunk and roots. The method that he employs for planting is the least disruptive to the soil. By gathering hay and weeds, he builds piles of compost to be used for planting instead of digging in the soil. By planting in the compost of grass, hay and weeds he utilizes less water, because the decaying plants along with it being in layers prevent evaporation. It is also easier to collect what is produced.
Translated by: Kefah Abukhdeir