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Around the Quad

Israeli Student Creates Community Garden Back Home

By Molly Cronin ’11

Adam Baratz

Many green thumbs working together can nurture bountiful flora—and communities, too.

Adam Baratz ’11, a double major in natural resources and development sociology, is exploring how environmental and social processes can support one another. He studied community gardening the summer after his sophomore year in New York City through the Cornell Urban Scholars Program.

“It was a really good jumping-off point for me to think about agriculture and environmental issues as a medium for community development,” Baratz says.

Interested in bringing his work to his native Israel, Baratz traveled to Beit She’an last summer to lead the planning and construction of a community garden in the city’s central park. He received the Freeman Fellowship through the Judith Reppy Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies at Cornell to aid in his efforts to turn around the neglected garden site.

Using knowledge gained from his academic studies and as a student manager at the Dilmun Hill student organic farm, Baratz enlisted the help of more than 200 community volunteers to construct a garden that features a spiral-shaped herb section, fruit and olive trees, and seats made from recycled materials, which the group beautified with mosaics and other artwork. He returned to Beit She’an over winter break to continue the work and create a plan for the garden’s further development.

“As an Israeli, it was a fantastic opportunity to use the skills I acquired at Cornell back home,” Baratz says.

When he is back in Ithaca taking classes, Baratz serves as president of Art Beyond Cornell, a student organization that provides weekly art lessons to youth in area detention facilities, giving them a chance to express themselves and to beautify their surroundings. As a Telluride Scholar, Baratz lives at the Telluride House on campus, a self-governed residence for undergraduate and graduate students that strives to create an intellectually engaged community. He is also a member of the Cornell Middle Eastern Ensemble, Jazz Voices, and an independent folk band.