Self-picking has already become a seasonal trend, when pale city people with soft-skinned hands which never held shears in their lives, go out to different areas in the country, pay, pick themselves the juicy fruits growing on the trees, eat as much as they can (as being city folk does not mean that they can be fooled) and have an agricultural experience enjoyable by both parents and children. In the Golan Heights this trend is big, when the fun experience gains the additional aspect of a visit to the wonderful rural communities (Kibbutzes and Moshavs) of the faraway wild basalt high region. So what can one pick and where? Here are four places with lots of sweetness and vitamins.
El-Rom Kibbutz, holding the prestigious title of the higher kibbutz in Israel, offers a diverse harvest experience in the Golan’s beautiful landscape. Cherry picking starts here in May and lasts only for a short time, but from this month and until September one can enjoy here the picking of a great variety of fruits, some are exotic forest fruits, blueberries (in August) and blackberries and raspberries and apples (in September). During the harvest you can tour with the farmers inside the groves on ATVs and eat as much of the fruits as you can. Another fun experience is the harvesting and pressing of grapes in the months of August and September. And if you are already here, you can have a "something out of the movies” experience, watching the short film presenting the processes of producing translations, dubbings and subtitles for films and television shows, services provided by the El-Rom Studios.
The people of Sha’al Moshav say that they have the greatest variety of tropical and exotic fruits grown organically in Israel. Here you can pick fruits such as raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, blueberries, strawberries and mulberries, cherries, figs, grapes and more, from May until August, and eat as much of them as you can. And if you would like to spend the night, you are more than welcome to stay at the tents and huts complex. And if you are still not full, you can rent a poyke pot. The place is open in the middle of the week only.
Ein Zivan Kibbutz
At Bustan HaGolan (the Golan Orchard) in Ein Zivan Kibbutz you are invited to pick cherries, raspberries, pears, blackberries, gooseberries, nectarines, apples and peaches, everyday, based on the season, from June until October. The kibbutz organizes various activities, such as bicycle rides in the Quneitra Valley among the orchards and vineyards to the Syrian border crossing; a horse and carriage ride among the orchard’s paths, an ATV ride, cherry liquor making, creative workshops for kids and more. And if after all of this you need an additional sweet experience, you can also go for a visit in the kibbutz’s De Karina Chocolate Factory.
The religious Moshav of Nov, in the southern Golan Heights, offers from June until September the "Orchard Train” tour, which goes between plum, nectarine, peach and apple trees, and every once in a while stops for fruit self-picking. One can also have a tour at the packaging factory and learn about the process which the fruit goes through from the moment of being picked from the tree and until arriving at the stores.
A few tips for the starting farmer:
- It is recommended to arrive very early in the morning, as the sun beating down will take the juice out of both you and the fruits.
- It is preferable to arrive in the middle of the week when the place is less crowded with visitors.
- Wear expendable clothes, as the stains they will be featuring at the end of this juicy day are at least as tough as the residents of the Golan Heights.