Welcome to Kibbutz Lotan

I have now arrived at Kibbutz Lotan where I’ll be volunteering for 2 weeks. Lotan is located only 20 minutes’ drive from Neot Semadar, in the Arava valley, right on the Jordanian border (there’s only 50 metres from the eastern gate of the kibbutz to the border).

Lotan is famous for its Centre for Creative Ecology, with its permaculture garden and alternative low-energy mud buildings. I’m volunteering at the centre, and will hopefully have an opportunity to learn some more about sustainable living along the way.

This is what Kibbutz Lotan looks like. A little green spot in the arid Arava valley right on the border to Jordan with the beautiful mountains of Edom visible in the distance.

A few facts about Kibbutz Lotan:

  • It is one of only two reform judaism kibbutzim in Israel.
  • It is also the only kibbutz affiliated with the Global Eco-village Network, and has even won an award as Eco-village of the year in 2006.
  • Both ecology and reform judaism features heavily in Lotan’s mission statement.

I live in the Bustan neighbourhood of Kibbutz Lotan. The Bustan is a model for sustainable living, consisting of 10 mud domes each housing one or two persons. They look like this:

The Bustan has composting toilets, solar heated water, a variety of mud and solar ovens, as well as a couple of photovoltaic cells that provide electricity for nighttime lighting. And indeed, most of the inhabitants of the Bustan are part of Lotan’s Green Apprenticeship programme – a five-month course in sustainable practices. It is just about as sustainable as you can get (living in the middle of the desert where there is 350 sun days a year and almost no rain, that is).

Also, Bustan is Hebrew for orchard, because the kibbutz orchard used to be located where the mud dome neighbourhood now stands.

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