National Geographic : 1946 Oct
Palestine Today crops went unpicked while Europeans were hungry, there were tears in his eyes. He took me first to see the open shed where three men-a lawyer, doctor, and a Polish peddler, prior to their arrival here-and two women were greasing and painting tractors and combines. It is difficult to purchase new equipment, and it is Jan's job to see that none of what they have fails through neglect. It is regularly serviced and charts are kept of periodic examination. Next we visited the large wooden dairy barn where colonists were feeding and milk ing a new breed of cattle developed in con junction with the Agricultural Research Sta tion at Rehovot. They are a cross between Syrian and Leba nese cattle, on the one hand, and Holsteins from the Netherlands and Jerseys from Eng land. The former are admirably fitted to survive in the terrific heat but niggardly in their output of milk, and the latter, although unable to withstand the climate before cross ing, are excellent milk producers. Wadslas told me that since 1924-25, when dairy farming on a large scale in Palestine was started, the milk output on Jewish farms had grown to 14,784,000 gallons in 1943. In the dairy barn, again, was an interesting cross section of the pioneer human types in Palestine. There were three attorneys, hailing from Germany, Poland, and Czechoslovakia, re spectively; two professors from Germany; seven doctors from Germany, Austria, and Poland; and eight who had formerly been small shopkeepers and merchants in central and southeastern Europe. Doctors Run Poultry Farm I was reminded of a poultry colony I had visited a few days before. It had been settled entirely by doctors of medicine or law who had escaped from Germany with some money and had turned their trained minds to the production of more and better eggs. They found the native Arab hen a scrawny fowl, delivering an average of 70 small eggs per year, but by crossing her with Leghorns they had produced a larger hen which aver aged 150 large eggs per year. But the basic crop at Gan Shemuel was citrus fruit (page 506). In 1926 settlers started planting the Shamouti orange, a native variety of very high quality which they im proved with new methods of cultivation. Three years later, after sending one of their people to California to study citriculture there, they introduced the Washington navel and the Valencia. Case histories are kept on each tree under different types of cultivation. This past sum mer Gan Shemuelites gave up the ditch type of irrigation to employ the method of overhead spray, which is used to a certain extent in some California areas. Since the country is almost identical with that around Los Angeles, and since long rows of beehives, as in California, are kept near the groves for orange honey, the fields of Gan Shemuel seem really like California. The fields of the settlement extend now far beyond the original stockade, which still stands with its watchtowers at each corner of the high barbed-wire fence. At the time of my visit, I was told that not since the disturbances of 1936 had the towers been manned, although the buildings of the settlement are all within the barbed wire ex cept for the bee house and a vegetable-sorting shed near the fields. In a Collective, Everyone Works Within the stockade you feel the real pulse of modern Palestine. In the collective settle ment, which is by far the most numerous type, everybody works and shares in the results, regardless of sex. Rows of one-story apart ments built of local sandstone rim the com pound, and each family is allotted one room in these apartments. At first glance this arrangement seems prim itive, even for a pioneer community. Actu ally, the room is equivalent only to the bed room of the heads of a family. Inside the compound there are also a community dining room where all adults eat; a nursery school with dining room and bed rooms where young children are kept; a secondary school with dining room and bed rooms where older children stay; a com munity laundry where each colonist turns in his clothes once each week and draws fresh laundered clothes; a library and community house. This organization of the community was adopted to permit the most intensive cultiva tion of the soil, since Palestine is so small. It enables the largest number of colonists to exist on the minimum amount of land. Although most of the farmers come from other walks of life, they seem to find in work ing the soil a happiness seldom seen else where, and if money is an evil, it is an evil from which these people do not suffer. Even during the war, when their crops, except honey, brought no income, they were assured of enough food through their own labor, while the income from their hives pro vided needed manufactured products.