Neot Semadar is a kibbutz established in the late 1980s on the remains of an abandoned community in the Negev desert of southern Israel. On the road from Mitzpe Ramon to Eilat, the kibbutz appears like a mirage—an oasis filled with palm trees, in the middle of which rises an unusual, 120-foot-tall pink tower.
This impressive, almost whimsical-looking tower in the middle of the kibbutz is an art center hosting many creative workshops as well as a boutique. It was built by members of the Neot Semadar community over the course of 15 years. The tower on top isn’t only decorative; it’s actually a passive cooling tower inspired by ancient Middle Eastern building techniques. The tower cools down the air entering at the top using a small amount of pulverized water, and acts as an eco-friendly AC for the whole building. The same system has been replicated at a smaller scale on other buildings inside the kibbutz. It also offers a breathtaking 360-degree view of the garden surrounded by a sandy landscape.
Neot Semadar’s economy is based on organic and sustainable agriculture, using recycled water. It includes the production of goat cheese, olive oil, fruits, vegetables, an herb garden, and a winery selling more than 20,000 bottles a year. This food production is used to feed the kibbutz’ inhabitants: some 90 adults, 70 children, and 50 volunteers. It also supplies Pundak Neot Semadar, a roadside vegetarian restaurant.
Know Before You Go
Volunteering is welcome at Neot Semadar. It’s possible to join the community for a minimum length of 8 weeks. Hebrew is the main language but many volunteers come from all around the world so many other languages including English are spoken there. Tours of the kibbutz are also possible but have to be booked in advance. Be prepared to leave with some art or a few of the amazing organic products in your bag and a lighter wallet.