Sunday, January 17, 2021 11:00 AM
“Today we know almost everything about every sapling we produce. We know when and where it was sourced, when and how it was germinated, and its complete irrigation history. It’s all on the computer and nothing is left to chance.” – Hiruy Amare, Director, KKL-JNF Golani Nursery.
Hiruy Amare, director of the KKL-JNF Golani Nursery (Photo: Dennis Zinn, KKL-JNF Photo Archive)
“These beautiful trees were mere seeds last December, barely 11 months ago, and now look how well they are doing,” said Hiruy Amare, the director of the KKL-JNF Golani Nursery, as he beamed with pride. Amare was standing in the middle of a huge patch of shoulder-high Tabor Oak saplings deemed mature enough for planting. “These plants were produced from seeds of trees that grow in the hills south of Haifa. In a month or so, representatives from the Hof Hacarmel Regional Council will come to collect hundreds of Tabor Oak saplings for Tu Bishvat planting. The remainder will be used in our KKL-JNF forests on the Carmel Range.” The Ethiopian-born Amare, who has been growing seeds at the Golani Nursery for over 20 years, emphasized the importance of returning plants to the area their parent trees came from.
Growing saplings. (Photo: Dennis Zinn, KKL-JNF Photo Archive)
“Today we know almost everything about every sapling we produce. We know when and where it was found, when and how it was germinated, and its complete irrigation history. It’s all on the computer and nothing is left to chance. Tree planting in Israel has become very research and knowledge-based. For example, here at the Golani Nursery, we are currently experimenting with a new type of growing container for young plants. The new container, which is called an 'air port', is larger than the regular container and the bulging air ports or windows around its sides are designed to give the plant more air and more water. It also gives the plant’s roots more space to develop.”
Watch a video- Nice to meet you - Hiruy Amare:
KKL-JNF workers wearing Coronavirus masks were spread throughout the nursery, preparing the new plants for distribution. They were busy inspecting the saplings, sorting them according to size and pruning and removing weeds. “We want to supply the best product possible so that the young trees will transplant easily to the earth and grow strong,” Hiruy Amare said, pointing out another batch of tall young plants. “These are Eucalyptus trees intended for the honey farmers and various local councils. We have some twenty types of Eucalyptus and all are ideal for both destinations because each type flowers at different times and therefore are able to supply nectar all year round for the bees and provide beauty for the municipalities.”
KKL-JNF workers preparing the new plants for distribution. (Photo: Dennis Zinn, KKL-JNF Photo Archive)
“The Corona restrictions could have had a terrible effect on the running of the nursery but we did not allow that to happen. COVID-19 erupted last March, exactly when we were preparing the seeds for germination, while at the same time, we were still distributing saplings from the end of the previous tree planting season. We all felt it was a do-or-die situation, so we found ways to continue working and caring for the plants without violating the Corona regulations. Ironically due to our hard work, it looks like this may be the best season we've ever had.”
The new 'air port' containers which designed to give the plant more air and more water. (Photo: Dennis Zinn, KKL-JNF Photo Archive)
Standing alongside a group of tall cypress saplings that the nursery was carefully cultivating and nurturing, Amare said that he was particularly thrilled to be involved in this particular project. “These trees are all descendants of a tree that was known as ‘Etz HaMedina’ or the State Tree. In 1948 when the country was under siege, a special event was held in Kibbutz Degania Aleph in which KKL-JNF sent special instructions to the kibbutz for planting the first tree in honor of the new state.”
Saplings of "Etz Hamedina" - cypress saplings. (Photo: Dennis Zinn, KKL-JNF Photo Archive)
The tree chosen by the members of Degania was a cypress, a reminder of the cypress planted by Theodor Herzl, the father of modern Zionism, during his 1898 visit to the Holy Land. They also decided to plant their ceremonial tree alongside the source of the Jordan River just south of the Sea of Galilee. The overjoyed participants, who were able to free themselves from the bloody war that was raging, began the planting ceremony with the singing of Hatikvah, the National anthem of their new state. The noble tree lived and thrived until April 2018, when it was uprooted by a strong storm that raged in the north of the country. KKL-JNF immediately rose to the occasion once again and planted yet another cypress in its place. At the same time, some of the branches of the original uprooted tree were saved and used as stem cuttings to produce 30 healthy descendants.
Young plants in the nursery. (Photo: Dennis Zinn, KKL-JNF Photo Archive)
“These are the descendants,” Amare said. “The saplings are all as strong and as proud as their parent was and will soon also be returned to Degania for planting. When that happens I hope to be there too.”