Your family-favorite current events resource just got a brand new look.

LEARN MORE

Kamal el-Saikali points to a plant in his “grape bank.” His vineyard is in Kfar Mechki, Lebanon. (Reuters/Issam Abdallah)

Kamal el-Saikali points to a plant in his “grape bank.” His vineyard is in Kfar Mechki, Lebanon. (Reuters/Issam Abdallah)

Kamal el-Saikali grows many kinds of grapes in his grape bank. (Reuters/Issam Abdallah)

Kamal el-Saikali grows many kinds of grapes in his grape bank. (Reuters/Issam Abdallah)

A girl eats grapes at a vineyard in east Lebanon. (AP/Hussein Malla)

A girl eats grapes at a vineyard in east Lebanon. (AP/Hussein Malla)

A harvester dumps grapes into a truck in Bekaa valley, Lebanon. (AP/Hussein Malla)

A harvester dumps grapes into a truck in Bekaa valley, Lebanon. (AP/Hussein Malla)

Workers remove stalks and leaves from freshly picked grapes. (AP/Hussein Malla)

Workers remove stalks and leaves from freshly picked grapes. (AP/Hussein Malla)

The Grape Bank

Posted: January 1, 2023

Kamal el-Saikali loves grapes because his parents did. And their parents did. And their parents did too. The grape-growing family’s expertise stretches back through generations.

But Mr. el-Saikali added something new to an old tradition. He started a “grape bank.” One spot on his vineyard in Lebanon holds 72 set-apart grape types.

He walks under the shade of his vines in the village Kfar Mechki. “Grapes are my life,” he says.

The idea for the grape bank started with Mr. el-Saikali’s kids six years ago. They study farming. They told him, “Dad, since we have these varieties (of grapes), why don’t we gather them all in one location and have it as a reference for us and for the people who need it?”

The bank holds 210 rare grape plants—about three plants per type. “We tried to gather them, protect them, and keep them alive so we don’t one day say, ‘We had some variety and it became extinct,’” he says.

Mr. el-Saikali sells grapes, but not the ones from the grape bank. He saves those for visitors. He also enjoys them himself. He knows his grandfathers used those kinds of grapes to make molasses, raisins, and wine.

Unlike a regular bank, the grape bank keeps its treasures in the open. “Whoever wants to come is welcome to learn, eat grapes, and check it out.”

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. — John 15:5

Why? The first job God gave to Adam was gardening. (Genesis 2:15) Preserving different varieties of plants is one way to steward God’s creation well.