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Green thumbs at the campus garden


Date: November 11, 2020

It is often said that the Weizmann Institute of Science nurtures the whole scientist. Beyond providing its staff with an exceptional research environment, the Institute emphasizes the importance of life beyond the lab. The campus is not only a green oasis in the middle of Israel, it is also home to day-care centers, swimming pools, and citrus orchards.

Thanks to a project initiated by Dr. Haim Beidenkopf, Weizmann staff have another outlet outside the lab in the form of a community garden, located near the physics buildings and not far from the scientists’ neighborhood. Dr. Beidenkopf got the idea for the garden several years ago while walking across campus from his child’s nursery school to his lab in the Department of Condensed Matter Physics.

“I crossed a barren piece of land and thought to myself that there must be a better use for it,” he recalls. A year later, his idea came to fruition, with 30 plots set up; today there are 60 plots allocated to Weizmann scientists who come with their families to tend to their organic gardens. The crop: everything from tomatoes and pumpkins to melons and strawberries. In years past, the garden was host to planting festivals in spring and fall, and celebrations for Jewish holidays that celebrate the harvest like Shavuot and Tu B’Shvat, but now such events are on hold.

At least, says Dr. Bat Chen Wolf, a staff scientist in the lab of Prof. Eran Segal, the garden provided a much-needed open space during the coronavirus lockdown in Israel. “Coming here to water our plants was one of the only things I could do with my son,” she says.