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The Center for Creative Ecology

Environmental education for Tikkun Olam (healing our relationship with the world) through hands, minds and hearts

Who are we ?

We are an environmental and sustainability education center for Tikkun Olam. Tikkun Olam is the Jewish concept of healing our relationship with the world, and we wish to do this with our hands, minds and hearts.
Established in 1997, the Center for Creative Ecology (CfCE) developed from a growing desire on Kibbutz Lotan to reduce environmental impact. We wanted to embrace a more sustainable way of life. We pioneered ground-breaking initiatives in community waste-management. We successfully experimented in organic food production in our extreme desert heat. We also learned how to construct energy efficient buildings using local, natural materials.
Today, the Center for Creative Ecology has become a world-class training, research and demonstration center for sustainability. Our focus is on experiential and practical education. We run courses, programs, workshops and activities for a wide range of groups and individuals from Israel and overseas on local organic food production, ecological building methods, appropriate technologies, permaculture design and community resilience. Our passion is to inspire, motivate and empower people to build sustainable communities and to take creative action for positive change towards social and environmental justice.
The CfCE won the Israel Ministry of the Environment’s Shield award in 2000 for its work in environmental education. In 2006 Kibbutz Lotan received the prize for Ecovillage Excellence in 2006 from the Global Ecovillage Network for work in environmental education.
We aspire to be the change we want to see in the world, and we share the knowledge and wisdom we have gained over the years via courses, consultancy, lectures, trainings and workshops.

Where are we ?

The Center for Creative Ecology is situated on Kibbutz Lotan in the southern Arava desert, Israel
Students on our residential programs live in the unique Eco Campus, study in the Eco-Kef ecological park, and become part of the Kibbutz Lotan community.

container gardening kibbutz lotan
building mud wall kibbutz lotan
kibbutz lotan gardening
mud building kibbutz lotan

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”

Margaret Mead

What do we offer?

Only have a few hours?

Come and experience our favorite tour – the Eco Tour, or join us for short workshops where we teach a range of subjects.

Engage in real time with a kibbutz member from the comfort of your home, classroom, synagogue or religious school class, who will narrate you through an interactive virtual tour and answer all your questions about life in a thriving desert community. 

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Study with us

We have something to suit everybody. For example, our Green Apprenticeship program is world famous.
Adults, families, schools and overseas programs are all catered for. You can even come to volunteer with us and gain experience.

We offer courses online for those of you who wish to bring the spirit of Lotan to your home. Courses include organic gardening, mud building construction and permaculture.


With over 60 years of combined experience, our team are available for consultations and mentoring. We give advice on a wide range of topics and our expertise is on alternative architecture, energy, permaculture, organic gardening and farming.

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We lecture on a wide range of subjects to students, small groups and universities. From permaculture, mud building construction, solar energy, organic gardening, community resilience and cooperation, we have lectures to suit every age.


Over the years we have partnered with different associations, countries and universities. Accreditation, follow on opportunities and training are available and we are always open to making new connections.

sunrise dates field kibbutz lotan
2 bee-eaters birds at kibbutz lotan lotan
building geodesic dome at kibbutz lotan
red mushroom stone at Timna Park
2 women making mud bricks

Where we live - Eco Campus

a man jumps at eco campus libbutz lotan gate
Students live at our environmentally friendly ‘Bustan’ and sleep in geodesic mud domes. The domes are designed to be warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Students experience what it is like to live with alternative technologies and how to live with less impact on the world.
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Where we study - Eco Kef

organic gardens at eco kef kibbutz lotan

We study and work at the Eco Kef which is our nature park. Once sand, this green oasis is now home to natural wildlife, vegetable gardens and outdoor classrooms. Our practical training occurs here and students go home confident in their skills.

Kibbutz Lotan

kibbutz lotan community

The Center for Creative Ecology is located at Kibbutz Lotan. Lotan is an intentional community with members from all over the world. When you visit us, we strive to make you feel part of our home and take part in our cultural activities and lifestyle.

You are welcome to join our virtual tour and meeting with a local Kibbutz member.

Join us for a 4 week practical training program in hand-on sustainable engineering, systems design and cooperative living. We’ll be learning about designing, building and running of sustainable projects, while linking together ecological, social, economic and cultural aspects into a unified whole. We’ll develop skills through hands-on work in our environmental education center, organic gardens, and alternative/natural building projects. We live in the EcoCampus – beautiful hand crafted domes – in Kibbutz Lotan, a desert oasis. At the end of the course participants receive an internationally recognized Permaculture Design Certification.


Meet the Team

Mike Kaplin

Mike Kaplin

Co-founder, core faculty member

Mark Naveh

Mark Naveh

Co-founder, Core Faculty Member

Tess Lehrich Haber

Tess Lehrich Haber


Our Educators

Daniel Burstyn

Daniel Burstyn

Deborah Dell'ariccia

Deborah Dell'ariccia

Sinead Fine

Sinead Fine


Each year we have a team of volunteers who believe in the work of ecology and help us with our Eco Kef, Organic Garden, EcoCampus, tourism, documentation, branding, education programmes. We are grateful for their contribution.

מתנדבים בקיבוץ לוטן


הקמפוס האקולוגי בקיבוץ לוטן

The Ecological Campus (EcoCampus) is a prototype model for sustainable development and offers residents daily opportunities to experience living together as a micro community, creating an integral part of the educational experience. The mission of the EcoCampus is to teach and empower residential program participants to live an ecological lifestyle, to maintain a low carbon footprint and to advance environmentally appropriate housing and technologies.

The housing units are created from geodesic dome frames, straw bales and earth plaster. The straw bales and earth plaster together create super insulated structures with thick interior mass for temperature stability. In winter months the buildings are passively heated by sunlight entering the southern windows, where the heat is then stored in the walls and the floors. Nightime ventillation in the spring and fall cools the buildings which remain comfortable all day when the window shades are closed. In the summer the energy efficient domes out-perform all of the conventional buildings in the region by using considerably less electricity for cooling. The neighborhood is Carbon Negative as the solar panels produce more electricity than is needed to run the the air conditioners and all the other applicances. Cooking gas is methane, produced by our unique biogas digester from kitchen scraps. The biogas system was built by our students and international experts Read More on Solar CITIES 

GA participants Kibbutz Lotan

Why Straw & Mud & Geodesic Domes?

Straw bales are a renewable agricultural waste product that is readily available. Earth plasters are a local and abundant resource of the Arava Valley. Together, these materials produce walls that are energy efficient, fire proof (Israeli Standards Institute approved) and carbon neutral (due to sequestered carbon in the straw). The geodesic framework is hand-fabricated and engineer approved to survive earthquakes.

The EcoCampus was built by students and continues to be developed today. Students partake in the construction and daily maintenance of the EcoCampus and there are a variety of opportunities available for new infrastructure projects throughout the year.


The Kibbutz Lotan Center for Creative Ecology was established by pioneers in the field of sustainability in Israel.

During the 1990’s, some members of Kibbutz Lotan started to think about how to reduce ecological footprint and environmental impacts in the community. With very little being done at the time in terms of waste management and sustainability in Israel, there was a need to innovate local solutions.

The pioneer projects that have been initiated over the years on Kibbutz Lotan were led by Mike Kaplin, founder and director of the Center for Creative Ecology. Together with Alex Cicelsky, co-founder and core faculty member of the Center, a series of projects were instigated and developed with the help of volunteers, Green Apprenticeship students and members and children of Kibbutz Lotan.

Pionnering kibbutz lotan