Kibbutz Lotan is located in the far South of Israel, 55 km. North of Eilat. It was founded by graduates of the Reform Jewish Youth movements of America and Israel in 1983. The population of the community fluctuates between 150-200 people. "Members" of the cooperative fluctuate between 45-65, with between 40 and 70 children. The community is multi-generational with parents of members living in the community by renting houses as do numerous families who are considering joining. Students and volunteers from Israel and many countries spend join us for short periods and year-long educational programs.
The kibbutz is affiliated with the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, the United Kibbutz movement, Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) - Europe and GEN-Israel, and the Israel Permaculture Association. We are a cooperative settlement, jointly owning the land, community buildings and means of production. Joint economic initiatives include date orchards, dairy, photovoltaic electricity production, eco-tourism guest house & Center for Creative Ecology. Members are responsible for their income and pay community taxes to maintain an extensive level of community services including wages of administrators, youth education and cultural life.
We are applying the Biblical injunction "to till and to preserve" (Genesis 2:15) as well as the ancient Rabbinic ruling "do not destroy" into our way of life in our fragile desert environment. To this end we have established the Center for Creative Ecology (CfCE) - an ecological demonstration, education and research institute which deals with recycling, local organic food production, energy efficient housing, renewable energy, water conservation and sanitation, nature conservation and community engagement in environmental awareness and action. Through the work of the CfCE, Kibbutz Lotan is recognized as a pioneer in community recycling of waste: composting food scraps, development of waste separation centers and using waste in construction. The organic garden was the first CSA (community supported agriculture - subscription farm to table service) in Israel, an inspiration to the growing Urban Gardens movement across the country as well as other organic gardening education centers and today supplies fresh vegetables to our Solar Restaurant. We maintain a Nature and Bird Reserve and two natural history trails adjacent to the community. We have been active in developing natural construction, specializing in earthquake resistant and energy efficient straw bale construction, including testing of these materials with the Standards Institute of Israel. Thousands visit yearly for short tours, workshops in sustainable technologies and Permaculture Design and Training Certification. In these ways we are promoting a way of life on Kibbutz Lotan which balances the needs for development with consideration for the desert ecosystem and to develop our Center for Creative Ecology into an international educational resource.