2018 has been an exciting year in 'Kaima Hukuk Farm'. A year of progress and development as well as consolidation and maturing. After almost 3 years of activity much work is still to be done, yet looking back, we proudly acknowledge our progress. Kaima Hukuk farm has established itself as an important and valuable player in the field of educational resources in the eastern Galilee. The farm produces organic healthy vegetables for hundreds of families in the area and promotes sustainability. Hundreds of young farmers, volunteers and visiting groups get to re-connect to the land and the region. But most importantly, we have managed to create a lively, warm, supportive, diverse, learning community, where youngsters and adults of different background feel connected and supported.
Long-term employment/empowerment activities for dropout youth
Mission: Kaima Hukuk Farm's long-term aim is to promote social and economic mobility for vulnerable youth from local Upper Galilee communities. Our young farmers learn new skills and earn a salary, an incentive which helps them take responsibility for themselves, the team and the farm. Participants, side-by-side with our adult staff, grow, cultivate, market and sell the farm's products to local communities. Because we see participants as partners, not problems, our approach helps change their path, self-narrative, and their feeling of personal value. Central to our outreach is a commitment to offer the individual space, time, and tools to transform his life and understand himself as the most important player in determining his future -- all on the soils of our healing farm. Referrals come from social workers, educators and other professionals affiliated with neighboring municipalities, regional councils, boarding schools, temporary youth shelters, youth groups, etc. This is a non-residential program. Impact: At the moment 11 youngsters are employed in the farm. Of the 42 youth employed to date, most have returned to traditional classrooms, boarding schools or night schools and are on track to perform military or national service. However, the program’s most profound impact – that on the personal experience of the individual - is harder to measure. It is more simply evident by the boy who now openly shares his struggle with addiction with an older colleague over a parsley bed. The girl who instead of ditching school to hang out with friends, wakes up early for work and is more motivated to learn. Or the boy who takes charge for the first time in his life and presents the team with a solution to an agricultural problem. These stories, and many others, are the true core of our activity. 1] This does not include hundreds of other young people and community members have taken part in our shorter-term programs and workshops
Kaima-Tmura: Modified national service for young adults
Mission: Our program for young adults (18-21) is carried out in partnership with Tmura. Tmura, affiliated with Israel’s Ministry of Social Welfare, facilitates modified national service programming for troubled young men and women after they age-out of other programs such as residential treatment facilities or have been released from the Army following a period of incarceration. These young people, at a difficult crossroads in life, are an important part of farm life and live together in a rented apartments we oversee. Note: First priority in this program is afforded to Kaima graduates, those who started on the farm before the age of 18. Impact: after a successful 2017 pilot, 6 young adults are now enrolled into the Tmura program. The Tmura young farmers, together with 2 'conventional' national service volunteers, reside in two apartments, and are exercising adulthood in the safe, empowering and supportive 'Kaima Hukuk Farm' environment. This year we introduced a half-time position of an 'afternoon mentor', in addition to the guidance and mentoring of the farm's permanent staff. Three of these young farmers are on their second year of service in the farm, and thus completing a full national service program with us. These youngsters have come a long way. One of them, a former high school dropout, had worked three years in Kaima farm in Beit Zait and now, on his second year in Hukuk, is practically running all agricultural aspects of the farm. From an alienated teen who locked himself in his room he is now a confident young professional. Another young woman had made great progress, from self-destructive behavior to a functioning, trustworthy young woman. A third young immigrant without family support conveys 'Kaima' is her first real home.
'Teaming Up' program
Mission: Kaima Hukuk collaborates with nearby Nofim, a home for mentally disabled adults whose residents work on the farm on a weekly basis though our “Teaming Up” initiative. This collaboration is allowing us to explore the contention that our model – which taps into the restorative power of nature, respects diversity, and meets each participant where he/she is in terms of ability - can be readily applied to other populations. Impact: Ten adults (3 women, 7 men) with special needs participate regularly. Very quickly, feelings of belonging and comfort replace alienation. According to caregivers' feedback as well as on site observations, all of the Nofim participants come willingly and express satisfaction with their time at the farm. During the year, we realized that the physical work in the field does not suit the older Nofim participants. This led us to develop a new farm initiative: a herb nursery. Today, most of the Nofim participants are experts in preparing herb seedlings, a job which can be done sitting down. Most young farmers interact fondly with the Nofim team. In some cases heartwarming relationships were formed. Especially noted are two young farmers, a boy and a girl, who each befriended a Nofim participant. Furthermore, the girl, who worked in the farm 7 months, decided to pursue a career in special education following this experience. Altogether, the integration of Nofim into the farm's community had created a more tolerant and diverse environment. Most notably, the youngsters show more sensitivity to offensive language regarding mental disability.
Short-term educational agricultural workshops and activities
Mission: We offer sustainable-agriculture/social-activism workshops to visiting groups led with the assistance of our young farmers. Such programs include summer youth activities, offered in partnership with our local regional council, and agricultural workshops for school and scouting groups, educators, synagogue communities, NGOs, the IDF, family missions and other visitors from around the world. Impact: This year, some 400 people of all ages and backgrounds took part in these programs. Such inter-community activities allow our farmers to demonstrate their newfound knowledge by helping to lead agricultural workshops. Lately we teamed up with 'The Jewish Agency' in order to host visiting groups of Jewish youth from the USA. All the activities involve agricultural work, thus offering 'hands-on' connection to the Galilee and its unique geography and history. We also enjoyed the contribution of hundreds of volunteers, many through the international "HaShomer HaHadash" program and the local school system.
How do we support ourselves? Kaima Hukuk Farm operates according to a unique model - a hybrid of a social business and non-profit modalities. Revenue is derived through 1) self-generated income from agricultural sales through the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) platform and workshop user fees; 2) support from government partners; and 3) philanthropy. In recent months we are producing 125 weekly vegetable baskets, which brings us closer than ever to reaching our target: 165 weekly vegetable baskets, making up 70% of our budget. The recent collaboration with the ministry of welfare through 'Kaima-Tmura' initiative is the farm's first public funding scheme. Together with our 4 'sister Kaima farms', we are in the midst of a slow but promising process to gain formal recognition and funding. Though we adhere to social business practices, philanthropic partnerships are essential to attaining financial stability, particularly during the first five years of operations. Over time, as our self-generated income and government partnerships grow, dependency on donor support will decrease. Yet currently Kaima Hukuk Farm cannot, and could not have, operate and succeed in reaching its educational, social and environmental goals without the collaboration and faith of our dear supporters. Thank you and a happy new year from all of Kaima hukuk family!
"I can't believe I wake up (at 6:30!) to begin the day, excited for all that can happen. This is a brand new feeling for me. Maybe there is a future and some hope for me in it."