Join a Desert Oasis of Creative Ecology

Posted 29th Apr 2019
What is the Kibbutz Lotan Center for Creative Ecology?

The Kibbutz Lotan Center for Creative Ecology is an environmental education place rooted in the idea of "Tikkun Olam" - healing our relationship with the world with our hands, minds and hearts.

 Our mission is to empower change-makers and future leaders to engage in creative action towards environmental sustainability and social justice in order to build healthy communities, organizations and businesses. 

Kibbutz Lotan’s Center for Creative Ecology is situated in Israel’s southern Arava desert, in the regional council of Hevel Eilot, 40 minutes north of Israel's southernmost city Eilat.  The closest airport is only 20 minutes away, Ramon Airport which is a gateway for cheap flights from Europe. Israel's main international airport Ben Gurion has bus and train connections to Tel Aviv. From there it is possible to take an Egged bus to Eilat, getting off at Kibbutz Lotan (a 4.5 hour ride). If you would like to come via Jordan then King Hussein International airport is 50 minutes away from us. For visitors who would like to travel through Egypt we are 1.5 hours away from Taba International Airport. Coming from Egypt, Jordan or Ramon International airport you could take the buses 390,444,397,394 from Eilat and come to Lotan Junction we will meet you there. If you are already in Israel take route 90 to Lotan Junction. 

Why was the Kibbutz Lotan Center for Creative Ecology Created?

Established in 1997, the Center for Creative Ecology (CfCE) developed from a growing desire on Kibbutz Lotan to reduce environmental impacts and to embrace a more sustainable way of life.

From early ground-breaking initiatives in waste-management that served as a model for other communities throughout the country, to pioneering experiments in extreme desert organic food production and energy efficient construction using natural materials, the CfCE has become a world class training, research and demonstration center for capacity building in sustainability.

Our focus is on quality, experiential and practical education in local organic food production, ecological building methods, appropriate technologies, permaculture design and community resilience that serves to inspire, motivate and empower people to build sustainable community and to take creative action for

positive change towards social and environmental justice.

How Do You Achieve Your Mission?

Our aim is to provide a world class training, research and demonstration center for capacity building for all age groups in local organic food production, ecological building methods, appropriate technologies, permaculture design and community resilience.

We achieve this by:

1). Instilling a sense of wonder for nature and the environment, while developing awareness and knowledge of the global challenges being faced

2). Influencing individual and communal attitudes and decisions about lifestyle

3). Empowering change through the development of a bank of practical ideas and methods in order to encourage and support actions for the environment and for social and environmental justice

4). Connecting contemporary environmental thinking to a liberal perspective while celebrating diversity of all cultural backgrounds.
We believe that project-based learning needs to be theoretical, experimental and hands on.

We are proud of our 800 graduates from all around the world that are doing amazing projects and making an impact. They are building organic permaculture gardens, developing biogas / biomass companies, creating ecovillages, establishing urban permaculture restaurants and community gardens, working on their own farms, building communities, establishing mud building companies, designing sustainable solutions, opening education centres, social enterprises and NGOs, teaching and researching in academia. 

How can people get involved at Kibbutz Lotan?

If you would like to get the full experience and learn about permaculture and sustainable living, our flagship programme the Green Apprenticeship is a 4 week practical training course in hands-on sustainable engineering, systems design and cooperative living. Through it students learn about the designing, building and running of sustainable projects, while linking together ecological, social, economic and cultural aspects into a unified whole. We’ll develop skills through hands-on work in our environmental education center, organic gardens, and alternative/natural building projects. Participants live in the EcoCampus, comprising beautiful hand crafted earth and straw-bale domes, in Kibbutz Lotan, a desert oasis. At the end of the course participants receive an internationally recognized Permaculture Design Certification. This programme is 7,400 NIS for the full month of accommodation, 3 meals a day and full education.

If you have a short-term vacation of a week or a few days then the Eco-Experience could be just what you are looking for. The Eco-Experience on Kibbutz Lotan offers you a hands-on opportunity to work with the staff of the Center for Creative Ecology, building natural earth structures, developing sustainable architecture, planting and harvesting in the organic garden, experiencing permaculture gardening, maintaining the educational Eco-Park, and living in the Eco-Campus. This programme is 250 NIS per night including accommodation, a few hours in the morning working with the CFCE staff and 2 meals a day.  

We are constantly building tailor made short-term programmes with various universities all around the world and are happy to arrange specific programmes for groups of 10 or more people. 

What is Your Accommodation & Ecological Campus Like?

The Ecological Campus (EcoCampus) is a prototype model for sustainable development and offers residents daily opportunities to experience living together as a micro community, creating an integral part of the educational experience. The mission of the EcoCampus is to teach and empower residential program participants to live an ecological lifestyle, to maintain a low carbon footprint and to advance environmentally appropriate housing and technologies.

The infrastructure of the Eco Campus includes composting toilets, grey-water systems, organic vegetable garden, bio-gas stove, bio-mass and solar ovens, solar panels for electricity and hot water, and a bicycle blender, allowing campus residents to experiment in all aspects of daily sustainable living. 

The Star Gazing and camp fire area is our new on-going mud project that is being built step by step with our Green Apprenticeship students. This is an important addition to the EcoCampus facilities. It comprises of a yoga meditation platform made from old tires, rocks and mud, and campfire area with benches made from old plastic boxes covered with mud plaster. The star gazing platforms are also made from tires, non-organic trash covered with mud. Green apprentices enjoy evenings around the campfire or lying on mattresses for an incredible panoramic clean clear view of the desert night sky full of the stars and planets.

The housing units are created from geodesic dome frames, straw bales and earth plaster. The straw bales and earth plaster together create super insulated structures with thick interior mass for temperature stability. In winter months the buildings are passively heated by sunlight entering the southern windows, where the heat is then stored in the walls and the floors. Nigh time ventilation in the spring and fall cools the buildings, which remain comfortable all day when the window shades are closed. In the summer the energy efficient domes out-perform all of the conventional buildings in the region by using considerably less electricity for cooling.

The neighbourhood is Carbon Negative as the solar panels produce more electricity than is needed to run the air conditioners and all the other applicances. Cooking gas is methane, produced by our unique biogas digester from kitchen scraps. Our students and international experts built the biogas system.

Why should our readers visit the Kibbutz Lotan Center?

Visiting Lotan is a unique experience. Here in the desert one feels close to and connected to nature and the natural environment. The open spaces, the sounds of the birds and the wind, and the desert nights under the stars all contribute to the adventure.

You can interact with our community and experience Kibbutz life. Come to learn about sustainable living, ecology and permaculture. Come to play with building with earth, creating your own soil and gardening. Enjoy your mud dome in the EcoCampus. 

The CfCE won the Israel Ministry of the Environment’s Shield award in 2000 for its work in environmental education and was instrumental in Kibbutz Lotan receiving the prize for Ecovillage Excellence in 2006 from the Global Ecovillage Network for work in environmental education and outreach, waste management and ecological building and we received the Composting Toilet Award by Permaculture Israel association in 2008!

We are planning to expand our educational work through partnerships with universities and government ministries, and to encourage theoretical and practical hands-on education in sustainability to become part of the mainstream educational curriculum.

We are excited for what lies ahead for us and our partnership with Go Travel and Talk.

How Can People Inquire Further?

To get in touch with the Kibbutz Lotan team, visit our website or send us a message via our social media channels.

Lets start planning your desert adventure together!

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