Bread, which was once considered to be a basic, nutritious food has become the “enemy” of man in the modern era. In the nature park of Ramat Hanadiv, an experiment to restore varieties of traditional wheat that are healthier for man and the environment is being performed. But in order to obtain bread from it as well, we must pray for a rainy winter.
Whoever takes a walk during this season along the red trail of the nature park will surely wonder what a sown field of wheat is doing in the middle of the park. The field is located in the eastern part of the park, on the way to Horvat Aqev and is part of a preliminary trial to investigate local traditional varieties of wheat and their adaptation to our region. Since the 1st Agricultural Revolution (also known as the Neolithic Revolution), wheat and bread have been fundamental components of our nutrition, but in the modern era there is an increasingly heard claim that their nutritional value has diminished and they may even be harmful to our health. Processes of industrialization led to a reduction in the number of wheat varieties and their biodiversity. In recent years there has been an effort to investigate traditional heritage varieties and through them study how to develop modern varieties with high nutritional value as well as high resistance to climate change.
The trial at Ramat Hanadiv is being performed as part of the “Land of Wheat” project in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Israel Plant Gene Bank (the national center for preservation of the genetic reserves of the regional vegetation). Within the framework of this project, in the Nature Park we restored an agricultural field that was part of the local landscape in the past, and sown it with traditional varieties of wheat. This wheat field, along with diverse heritage sites and archaeological remains, represent the historic cultural landscapes of this region, and compose the landscape mosaic of the nature park, along with the native woodland, the planted groves and a variety of landscape formations characteristic of the region.
In the first stage of the project, in winter 2016 a number of observational plots were sown with traditional varieties of wheat, with the aim of studying their adaptation to the region. Following the initial results, the varieties that showed better adaptation to the region were selected. The trial wheat plot is managed according to the principle of sustainable farming that strives for optimal integration of the agricultural component in the natural systems surrounding it. Wheat is completely dependent on precipitation and does not receive any supportive irrigation; similarly, no use is made of herbicides or chemicals to control pests or diseases.
The additional value of Ramat Hanadiv’s involvement in this project, in contrast to an experimental farm or commercial fields, is the opportunity to test traditional farming methods while learning about their interactions with the natural environment. In addition to the historical-landscape and agro-ecological contributions, an additional contribution is promoting awareness about local, healthy food.
The field that was sown in November has already germinated. You are welcome to pray with us for significant rain and to observe the results of the trial. And who knows, maybe one day we will find the varieties of wheat that were grown and eaten here 2000 years ago.