Sanford Colb began studying physics before switching to law. Today he has a successful patent law firm – one of the leading ones in the country – based in Rehovot not far from the Weizmann Institute. But Colb has another love – one that began in childhood – growing vegetables. Even when he was pursuing his graduate studies at Harvard University, he always made sure to have a small green garden to work.
Around 20 years ago, he decided he wanted to combine his love of gardening with his desire to help those in need. He began growing vegetables on a plot of land he owns in Rehovot and donating them. In conjunction with the organization “Leket” – a national food bank – the idea grew into a nationwide project in which volunteers grow and pick vegetables on dedicated plots around the country for distribution to the needy. Today, the foundation that Colb established, Hatov Vehameitav (the good and the best), grows 40 different crops, averaging 60 tons of fresh produce a week. Some 25,000 volunteers, organized through Leket, go out to plant and reap. The idea is not just to provide food for the hungry, but to directly involve land use and the work of volunteers in feeding people.
The Weizmann connection took place through Mul Nof Ltd. (the holding company for Weizmann Institute assets). The Institute agreed to lease two plots of land that it owns near the Institute perimeter, at no cost, to Colb’s organization. Recently, the first seeds were planted in the plots: beet seeds. To mark the occasion, a sowing ceremony was held, attended by members of the organization as well as Ahmed Nadji, the owner of a packing plant next to the grounds and his cousin, the former Minister of the Interior of Jordan. Yet another plot of land was donated to the project by the Rehovot municipality, including the installation of a special irrigation pipe. Thus the Weizmann Institute has not only entered the seasonal cycle of planting, growing and reaping, but the cycle of giving back to the community that supports and nourishes its roots.
Sanford Colb was there, as well. “I work 18 hours a day,” he says. “Two of those I spend on the organization. I go out to the field; I plant and pick vegetables with my own hands.”