The Key to Growing the Most Expensive Lemons in the World

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Lemons on a treeWhen it comes to growing lemons, or any type of fruit or vegetable, we rarely stop to think about the energy and resources utilized to grow them. In this article we will take a look at what it takes to grow some of the world’s most expensive lemons in Israel.

Why it is so Difficult to Grow Lemons in Israel

Israel is a region surrounded by desert and an area where droughts come one after the other and this is the main reason why it is so difficult to grow… anything, in Israel. The water that most plants or trees require is water that simply cannot be spared in an area such as Israel. Water is a precious commodity and how the people of this country use and share water is a question that receives much attention from people of all walks of life. So when it comes to gardening, there is simply the question of whether the water can be spared.

Why is Water Such a Commodity in Israel?

The Israeli’s and the Palestinians

To many people who have frequent access to water without any limitations, the idea of water being so limited that even gardening is questioned, is unfathomable. To the people of Israel this is simply the way of things. Many news outlets claim that the lack of available water is a result of tensions between Israel and Palestine, often pinning the lack of available water on each other and further fueling political turmoil. While the issue of how the available water supply is being shared is of importance to both the people of Israel and the people of Palestine, the more important issue is the bigger picture.

The Drying up of Natural Water Resources

The bigger picture, when it comes to the availability of water in Israel, is the drying up of the natural water resources in the area. The natural lakes and rivers that support life from tree’s to livestock to people are rapidly drying out. At one time the great river Jordan carried large flows of water from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea and on its journey it would quench the thirst of Palestine, Jordan and Israel. So amazing were the waters of the river Jordan that they once turned the great turbines of a hydro-electric power plant that now stands a ghost of its former days. Yet today there are areas of the river Jordan that offer no more than a trickle of dirty muddy water, polluted and offering nothing to quench the deserts thirst.

Why Has the River Jordan Dried Up So Much?

If the river Jordan was once so great, how did it become such a small shadow of its former self? The sheer amount of water that is relied upon by the people of Israel and their neighbors has simply drained the river to an all time low. As Israel pumps water from the Sea of Galilee to support its national water supply, neighboring Arab countries rely upon the waters that feed the Sea Galilee. Just how devastating has the water loss been to the Dead Sea in to which the River Jordan once poured like a mighty waterfall? According to studies the Dead Sea is shrinking at a rate of one meter every year. So rapidly is the Dead Sea shrinking that in just over a century it could have completely dried up. Today the Dead Sea is just two thirds of the size that it once was in the 1930’s.

The Wasted Water of Israel

Many people ask: but where does this water come from? And in most instances they are directing their exclamation towards lush green grasses on top of the line golf courses planted smack in the middle of an otherwise barren land. They make a good point. The water that is being utilized to keep artificial and non-native plant life and grass alive is water that could certainly be better used elsewhere. As with most things however, it seems that he who has the gold makes the rules and this is precisely why it takes so much to simply grow a lemon tree in Israel.

Kevin Connolly’s Lemon Tree

The analogy of the most expensive lemons in the world is one that comes from a true story of Kevin Connolly. Connolly is a news correspondent living in Israel and during his time there he opted to ship in a fully grown lemon tree as conditions were simply not conducive to growing one from a sapling. Connolly shares his story of having to pay to have the tree shipped in and just how un-economical keeping a lemon tree has been when living in such a drought ridden country. Most importantly, however, Connolly explains that his tree, which undoubtedly bears the most expensive lemons in the world, requires a small irrigation system that stands on his balcony. This tiny irrigation system that provides a lifeline for a single tree also provides an eye opening moment for Connolly as he realizes that with every short watering his tree receives, the Dead Sea likely shrinks just a little bit more. For some, this analogy may seem ridiculous; however, in looking at the rapidly shrinking water supply in Israel and the surrounding countries this analogy is seeming to be less and less of an exaggeration.

What can be done?

When asked what can be done about the current water situation in Israel and the surrounding areas, very few people have an answer and even fewer have an answer that is feasible. Whether the steadily shrinking water supply of Israel is due to the Israeli’s or Palestinians is a moot point. What should be addressed is that regardless of how the shrinking water supply is explained away, there are countries full of people who cannot survive without it. It is time to stop pointing fingers and to begin seeking solutions that can help return a roaring natural water source to all of these people.

About The Author:

Amy grew up in England and in the early 1990's moved to North Carolina where she completed a bachelors degree in Psychology in 2001. Amy's personal interest in writing was sparked by her love of reading fiction and her creative writing hobby. Amy is currently self employed as a freelance writer and web designer. When she is not working Amy can be found curled up with a good book and her black Labrador, Jet.

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May 14, 2012 11:44 pm

Reading this article got me thinking more and more about water and the issue of water resources. I remember reading a book a few years ago. The main premise was that while the nations of the world are fighting over land. Oil, money and other commodities in the future water is going to play a larger and larger role on the stage of world politics. I believe that we are seeing just that here in Israel and actually throughout the Middle East. I think that we are beginning to see similar situations starting to play out all around the world, with more to come.

After doing some more research, I also discovered that Israel is doing some unique things to try and solve this problem. Since the area is just so arid and the water is drying up, there are really only two available solutions. The first is to take sewage water and recycle and purify this. The second option is to use the water from the sea. This will involve a process called desalination, or basically removing the salt and other impurities from sea water.

They are both interesting ideas. I am not sure I would feel quite comfortable with being in a position where I had to drink sewage water that was recycled and treated, even if I knew it had been purified. I would always have my doubts.

I think that desalination is an idea which has many merits. There is currently a huge desalination plant in operation. According to several reports I saw it is the biggest and most technologically advanced in the world. Salt is taken out of the sea water by a process of reverse osmosis. Right now, this process accounts for a little more than 10 percent of Israel’s drinking water. The technology is soon to be expanded. There are plans to build three more of these plants. Once they all come online, they will together be responsible for meeting approximately 60 percent of the overall drinking water capacity in the country.

Since I am quite convinced that this will be a problem in many other areas throughout the world very soon, we should all be looking to Israel right now and paying very close attention to this new technology. In time, countries such as India and China will certainly be asking Israel for their help in solving their own water problems.

I also read about the struggles many ordinary people and families go through in Israel regarding water. In many of the major cities, the water company will simply shut it off when water is scarce. This means that sometimes people must go for an entire month or two without water. When it does run, they try and save every drop; even going so far as to put a bucket in the shower to catch what they can for later. After reading all of this I can honestly say that I am very grateful not having to deal with such issues.

May 14, 2012 12:28 am

This article was rather entertaining and an enjoyable read. I have been aware of the difficult situation in Israel and Palestine regarding water resources and issues for quite some time now. I also found the story of the lemon tree quite fascinating. I wonder if Mr.Connolly would have chosen different now if he had to make his decision again. I believe that he most likely did not have a fair understanding of what he would be up against before he decided to ship his lemon tree to Israel.

I would also have liked to know a bit more about this character. Why were lemons so important to him that he paid a huge amount of money to ship an entire tree half way around the world? I guess the man really wanted his lemons!

Having lived myself in a tropical climate I can understand some of what this gentleman went through. I imagine him building this irrigation system (or watching and directing the workers who may have installed it) and thinking that this would finally be the ticket to getting his lemon tree working again. Another thing also occurred to me. If Connolly was really that concerned about using the scarce water resources, then why did he go through with this in the first place? Is the man just that proud or arrogant? Or possibly it was only after getting this all set up that he realized how costly this was in terms of the natural resources he was using to grow these, the most expensive lemons in the world?

It is actually quite sad to think about the mighty Jordan River is drying up. This is a river that every Christian and Jew is familiar with. It has sustained life in the region for thousands of years. The Jordan figures so prominently throughout all of history that it is almost unthinkable to imagine there are now places where the river is literally down to just a trickle and that water is muddy and polluted.

Another problem is that the whole political situation really does not help. Both sides are constantly bickering and blaming each other for this problem instead of trying to work together and fix it. I guess both side figure that they will be the first one to come up with a solution and then they do not have to share credit. Maybe they both think that if they come up with a solution first, they will be able to use it is as a political weapon in the battle for future water rights? I admit that I do not really thoroughly understand the situation. It certainly seems complex.

It was also a bit unsettling to see that some of the little natural water resources which do exist in the area have been used to build high end golf courses. It seems like such a waste. But, far be it from me to tell anyone what to do.