7th Sep, 2015

Summer Newsletter 2015

Tent of Nations Farm
People Building Bridges

Summer 2015 Newsletter

Dear Friends,

It has been a while since you’ve last heard from us but we are still here working hard to achieve justice. We would like to share with you the latest news about the Tent of Nations farms, about the legal situation, about the challenges on the ground, but also about our hope and desire to keep moving forward in a very difficult political reality.

Political Situation
The political situation is getting more difficult. Land confiscation is going on and on for building new settlements or/and expanding the existing ones. The wall is continuing to be built, especially now in the Bethlehem area and is separating farmers from their own land. The settlements around the around the Tent of Nations farm are also expanding, making the Palestinian villages more isolated. According to the Settlement Watch article published on 23/07/2015:” The sub-committee for settlements for the higher planning committee of the military’s civil administration met on 22.7.2015 and it approved the construction of a religious school (Yeshiva) near Neve Daniel Settlement, which will be exactly very close to the Tent of Nations near where the road is blocked. If this would happen, the Tent of Nations would become more isolated which means more challenges for us.

Land Process
Last February the Supreme Court sent our case again to the Military Committee and the second demanded us to start a new process of reregistration of our land. We had to prepare the documents and a new land survey. The application was submitted on April 20th, 2015. Today, we are still waiting for an answer.

Recently, we found another demolishing order for a cistern. It is a frustrating situation for us, especially when we see the settlements are expanding and at the same time we have difficulties and restrictions working on our own land that we own since 1916.

We heard that new trees are also threatened to be uprooted and we are trying to stop that legally. We have to go through this very dark tunnel but still believing that at the end justice will prevail.

We will keep you updated regarding any urgent development about the land issue as well as the building of the new religious school close to the road block. Please do not take any action unless you hear from us. We will inform you if, what kind and when, actions are needed.

Agricultural Development
During the winter months, we prepared a big area of land and planted with trees. We are glad that we were able to plant 4000 new trees and replaced the ones that been destroyed last year. We will keep planting trees as a sign of hope for a better future.

We are watering the new planted trees once in a week just to keep a bit of humidity in the ground to help the trees survive the hot months. We might have to buy water.

We already prepared another area of land for tree planting. Our plan is to plant 3000 grape trees this coming October. The plan is to able to produce more grape juice and syrup. By increasing the farm production, our goal is to make the farm self-sustainable.

Special thanks to all people who sponsored or/and planted trees. Thank you so much in helping to keep hope alive.

Usually in June we have the apricot and the apple harvest, but last June we had no harvest, because of the destruction of our fruit trees last May. In July we had the almond harvest but it was a bad harvest this year. Today is the last day of the grape harvest. We are making jam and grape syrup out of the grapes. The fig harvest is still going on in September and by end of October, we will have the olive harvest. Our farm shop will be full of products from the farm.
Special thanks to all volunteers who came from different countries and helped us during the harvest season.

We started developing a better infrastructure for the animals. A new fence is being built around the animal farm. We are still working in developing places for the animals and we will buy more chickens, goats and sheep to increase the productivity, but also forpurposes, especially during our children summer camps.

Infrastructure
Energy:
Last spring the solar power system was expanded; new panels were installed as well as a new invertor. Now the system is producing 10 KW of electricity, which is enough for now. The only thing is that we couldn’t add new batteries to the existing old ones but we will wait until the old ones have to be replaced in order to buy more new batteries. Still we have a plan to install small wind mills for generating electricity and to charge the batteries during the night. After we stopped using our Diesel generator in 2009, we managed to save more than $45,000 for fuel expenses. Special thanks to all sponsors who helped in this project that made the farm in terms of energy totally independent.

Water:
Each year, we have been increasing our rain water collection capacity in order to have enough water for agriculture. We are working now on adding more water collection capacity in order to become independent in terms of water.

We renovated a new cave to be used to host more volunteers on the farm. Another one in the valley is under renovations as well as our new campsite with a space for a big tent, a sitting place and an outside kitchen.

We are still working on renovating the new community room for volunteers. Children decorated the walls with mosaic and wonderful paintings during the children summer camp last July.

The filtration system and biofuel project are still not completed. Those kinds of projects will help the farm to be self sustainable.

The children Summer Camp July 2015
From the 20th until the 31st of July we had our fourteenth children summer camp under the title: with heart and hand, we change the land. We had 25 international and local volunteers who worked with the children from Bethlehem area.
The Brass for peace group also participated and children made music on brass instruments. With this camp, and through creative workshops, our goal was to let the children discover their talents, focus on their positives and believe in themselves that they are able to shape their future.
On the last day of the camp, we invited the parents and friends to see what their kids were doing during the summer camp. Children were showing their parents around and the parents were encouraged by their own children. Special thanks to all volunteers who came and helped in making our children summer camp very successful.

Bent Al Reef Women’s Project
The Bent Al Reef Women’s project finished its year beginning of last June. It was great to see the fruits of the work that Jihan and other volunteers been doing. Many activities were done, like English, computer and other educational classes as well as art workshops. They worked also on recycling plastic bags, crocheting them into purses, bags and baskets as well as recycling broken glass into stained glass art pieces. The idea is to raise more awareness about environmental issues and to encourage those women to be active in taking better care of the environment.

The project will start again on the 7th of September 2015 after 3 months of summer break.

Guest Groups and Volunteers
Between March and August 2015, we welcomed many volunteers from different countries who came to spend some time helping on different projects. A special thanks to all who came and offered their time to help.
Last week we had to say goodbye to Johannes and Simon from Germany who spent a year on the farm, living in a cave and helping for a year. We appreciate the presence and the help of volunteers very much.
Volunteers are always welcome to come and help. For more information about volunteering at the Tent of Nations, please check our website http://www.tentofnations.org .

In the last months, many visitors came to see the Tent of Nations, to hear its story and challenges but also to learn about hope in action. It is an encouragement to see the number of visitor groups is increasing.
Special thanks to all people who came to visit the Tent of Nations and learn about the work we are doing.

Upcoming
On the 20th of October we will start the olive harvest and we are expecting some new volunteers to help with the harvest.
End of October, we will start planting 3000 new grape trees. Volunteers are welcome to come and help in planting.

From 9-12. May 2016 we are celebrating 100 years anniversary (one hundred years of existence on our farm). Friends are welcome to come and join us for a week of celebrations including different activities, fieldtrips and workshops. We will be sending an invitation very soon.
For more information, please check our website http://www.tentofnations.org and our face book page: Tent of Nations/Nassar Farm. We would love to see you.

Finally, we would like to thank you all for your prayers, for your support, and for your solidarity.

Blessings and Salaam,

Daoud Nassar,
Tent of Nations – People Building Bridges

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