Ma'ale Michmas
Settling the Land of Israel - In the heart of the Binyamin region


In the spirit of Zionist tradition, the residents of Ma'ale Michmas have made great efforts in planting hundreds of trees over the past twenty years. The Land of Israel, thousands of years ago, was well-forested, but over the almost 2000 years between the last exile of the Jews and their return to the land, the region was almost completely deforested, which naturally brought with it negative environmental effects. Before Ma'ale Michmas' founding, this area was completely barren, save rough thorny brush covering the parts of the hills which still had some topsoil.

Naturally enough, each family has planted various trees in their gardens. Beyond this, in a systematic fashion, the community's residents have planted rows and groves of trees in various areas of the village. The most intense planting period is the one-day annual holiday of Tu B'shvat (the fifteenth of the month of Shvat), also known as "New Years for the trees". On this day, which falls a few weeks before spring begins, people all over Israel (especially children) plant trees.

The most heavily planted areas are:

The park/playground - The park area is ringed by a stand of large eucalyptus trees planted shortly after the village was founded.

By the industrial zone - Between the Champs-Elysee and the industrial zone, there is a triangular area of approximately 1600 sq. metres containing some 300 trees, mostly pines, planted in the mid 90's.

The almond grove - Beside the entrance gate and in front of "the new mobile homes" is a grove of some 200 almond trees, planted in 1998 with the financial assistance of the Josephson family of the United States.

Due to the lack of topsoil, strong winds, and harsh near-desert climate of the area, planting trees and keeping them alive for their first few years is no mean feat, either technically or financially. The main obstacles that need to be overcome are:

Planting an olive tree Preparing the ground - A bulldozer must be brought in to carve out a hole in the limestone hill, which is then filled with a layer of soil trucked in. The sapling is planted here.

Irrigation - Because of the uncertain rainfall patterns of the area, saplings must be irrigated for their first few years. A drip irrigation hose is laid across the rows of saplings, and connected to a central system calibrated to deliver the amount of water needed, at the optimum times.

Wind protection - Saplings cannot withstand the powerful winter winds that sweep across the barren landscape. The sapling must be lashed firmly to a stake driven deep into the limestone hill.

Some photographs © Eli File.
Last Updated Sunday, July 07, 2019.

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