12/14/2011 07:02

site will include organic farms, soil-enhancing strategies, modernized herding techniques and an education center.
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The mayor of Hura expressed his hopes that the Wadi Attir eco-village will become a “classroom for all Negev students” following the official cornerstone-laying ceremony for the Beduin sustainable desert community on Tuesday.

Project Wadi Attir, a future ecological community that combines Beduin values with modern renewable technology and farming expertise, is set to begin taking shape this January, following a commitment last week from the Negev and Galilee Regional Development Ministry to contribute NIS 6 million to the total NIS 22m. project.

Jointly devised by Dr. Michael Ben- Eli at the New York-based Sustainability Laboratories and Hura Mayor Dr. Muhammad El-Nabari, the site will include organic farms, soil-enhancing strategies, modernized herding techniques, an education center and a women’s program for indigenous vegetable growth, as well as solar, biogas and compost facilities.

“This is not only for the Hura local community – it is for all the Beduin community in the Negev,” Nabari told The Jerusalem Post, stressing that the project leaders are from all different villages. “We want to make an impact on all the Beduin communities.”

In addition to Nabari and Ben-Eli, also attending were Negev and Galilee Regional Development Minister Silvan Shalom, as well as JNF chairman Efi Stenzler and CEO Russell Robinson, whose organization is helping solicit contributions for the site’s development. It was crucial, in Nabari’s opinion, to bring together all sides involved in the process – from the government to philanthropists to the local community members.

Work on the site will begin at the end of January, beginning with land enhancement and tree planting, and will continue for about three years until completion, according to Nabari. The eventual visitors’ center will house an educational program run in cooperation with the Education Ministry.

“This is a classroom for all Negev students – from the Beduin and Jewish communities – to study together,” Nabari said.

Local farmers will also be able to bring the ecologically sustainable techniques practiced at the village back to their own land plots, according to Nabari. Meanwhile, the duo leading this project are currently in talks with the Jordanian University of Science and Technology in Irbid, to initiate a similar type of project there, Nabari explained.

To Ben-Eli, Tuesday’s ceremony was a remainder that “this project can really create miracles in this whole area.”

“One of the most incredible things that happened is that all the different branches of government and all the people involved suddenly realized that they are all working together on one thing,” Ben-Eli said. “They suddenly realized the fantastic potential of collaboration and cooperation.”