Over the past decades, agrotourism (agriculturally based tourism) is a worldwide trend that offers city dwellers a chance to escape the urban jungle and experience rural life.
Israel is no exception to this trend. The flourishing agrotourism industry in the country is a clear indication of its success in agriculture. It is a success story after many long, hard years of struggle against unfavorable conditions and of making the best use of insufficient water and arable land.
Largely in part due to the application of high-tech systems to agriculture, Israel enjoys an assortment of Mother Nature’s bounty, but let’s go to the fruits. Israel grows more than forty types of fruits; citrus accounts for 7.1% of the country’s total agricultural produce.
In addition to citrus, there are also bananas, dates, plums, strawberries, prickly pear, persimmon, avocados and cherries. And speaking of cherries, these red, sweet, and luscious fruits, of course, one of the popular fruits in the Holy Land.
Cherries are normally grown in the cooler northern regions of Israel, and the peak of the cherry-picking season usually occurs every June. Cherry picking, and other types of seasonal fruit picking, are also some of the popular agrotourism activities in the country.
Because of the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic in 2020, many of the usual fun summer activities have come to a temporary halt. As a result, cherry picking started later than usual – but at least, the fun still continues!
During the entire month of June, cherry trees are gloriously bathed in bright red. Individuals and families are invited to cherry orchards in many parts of the country, particularly in the Galilee and Golan Heights. Here are some of the Israel’s best sites for cherry picking.
Beit Jann is a Druze village on Mount Meron in the Galilee region. The cherry trees in Beit Jann reach the height of ripeness and their fruits are ready to be harvested. In addition to picking cherries, guests can also take part on a guided tour in which they will learn everything they wanted to know about Beit Jann, its local residents, and of course, their bountiful cherry orchards.
Odem is a small “moshav” (cooperative village) located in the foot of Mount Odem, in Golan Heights. In Odem, you can pick a variety of cherries as well as seasonal wild berries, including blackberries, blueberries, gooseberries, mulberries, raspberries and strawberries. As these fruits are wild, they are sure to be organic and pesticide-free. Guests are welcome to pick and munch the berries straight from the trees. They can also do other activities – have a stop at the cafes, have a picnic at the orchard, or simply just relax and rest under the shade.
Horse and Cherry Farm is one of Odem’s popular sites for picking sour cherries, which are used to make liquor called “vishniak.” It also has other types of cherries, along with wild berries.
Not far from Odem you’ll find Bustan Bereshit, one of the best-known self-picking cherry orchards in Israel. In Bustan Bereshit, guests are welcome to fill their baskets with these luscious red fruits, and eat them along as much as they want while they’re busy picking. After picking, guests can visit an exhibit that displays old agricultural tools. It has something to offer for the kids, too: moonbounces, a rope park, a petting zoo and ATV.
Habustan Shel Moti
Here, visitors can decide crimson, black and yellow cherries. The owner, named Moti, is a kind and gracious host who also grows other types of fruits, such as figs, plums, and other berries such as blueberries, raspberries and Pakistan mulberries. These fruit trees are also included within the self-picking space, in addition to the cherry trees.
Guests are welcome to eat as much fruits while they’re picking. They can also purchase baskets of their own harvests to take home. When they’re done picking, there are plenty of shady spots to rest and relax, tables full of produce and other locally made treats, and chilly refreshments.
El Rom is a kibbutz in Golan Heights, located at the highest altitude of all the cherry orchards in Israel. Guests are free to pick nine various types of cherries, as well as purchase baskets of their harvests. In addition to cherries, El Rom has blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries.