Farm Spotlight: Meet Odelya Matter!

Meet Odelya Matter, an exchange student from the Arava Institute whose studying at Dickinson this semester and working on the College Farm this summer! Odelya is originally from Jerusalem, Israel but has traveled extensively. Her first experience on a farm was on Hava Ve’Adam, a permacultural educational farm in Modi’in, Israel. After studying permaculture, Odelya lived in the desert and later was a ranger on a nature reserve on the border of Lebanon. As a way to travel and visit new places, Odelya decided to use a global database called Workaway, a community program for travel exchange, working holidays, and volunteering. As part of Workaway, she travelled to different farms across Europe, mainly Portugal, and later to the Sahara Desert, including a Berber community in Morocco where she volunteered. While travelling, Odelya was interested in the different community biological and human diversity and studying activism through non-conventional agriculture. Inspired by these observations, she next organized a delegation of volunteers she met travelling to work on the island of Lesvos, which acts as a corridor for refugees from the Middle East and West Africa seeking asylum in Europe. Everyone did different jobs and Odeliya’s was to teach music, facilitate artistic spaces, and do safety and rescue missions from the shore.

Odelya with baby purple bok choy grown in a hyper arid zone
Mud structure in an off-grid community in Portugal

At the Arava Institute in Israel, Odelya studied the social aspects of environmental studies with an emphasis on farming in a hyperarid zone, focusing on the political ecology and environmental politics of the region. The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies is an environmental studies and research institute in the Middle East that houses accredited academic programs, research centers, and international cooperation initiatives focusing on a range of environmental concerns and challenges.

Odelya is coming to Dickinson for a semester studying a few different topics and then for the summer farm internship as part of an exchange program the farm participates in with the Arava Institute. Odelya is looking forward to the great learning opportunities here as well as the chance to get to experience different perspectives and approaches to politics and the environment. She’s also looking forward to experiencing farming in the spring and summer seasons at the college farm and is looking to gain farming experience and meet some great new people! Odelya has already enjoyed opportunities to learn and meet new people at the recent Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) Conference in Lancaster this past month.

Long term, Odelya has serious goals to create connections with other people, as she thinks connection with others is simple when “layers are peeled off.” Another main goal of hers is to address the Israeli occupation through human interaction, and not through the screen.

Odelya taking part in a permaculture course learning a method called hugelkultur

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