Berry Picking Season

the third year in a row, we have driven for 2 hours each way to Moshav
Sde Yaakov
(near Haifa) to pick berries at the Zak Family Farm.
This year, we returned to our home in Rehovot with 2 kilos of ripe berries,
which we proceeded to turn into confiture (well, my husband did, anyway [same
husband mentioned below]). The rest we froze to be served in the summer months

On our visit this year, we were taken
around by Anat Zak, who also sold us blackberry bushes to plant in our garden.
Who knows, maybe next year, you can pick berries in our yard? Anat
also told us that the self-berry picking farm is but a small part of their
business. Amiad Winery,
which specializes in fruit wines and liqueurs, buys serious quantities of
berries for their liqueurs — a bottle of which we bought from Anat. And
most of the berries in stores around the country come from the Zak Family
Farm. By picking our own berries, we paid far less than in the neighborhood

Later in the week, my husband (same
one) reported that he found a new berry farm — this one in Gedera (5 minutes
from our house). Open only on Fridays and Saturdays, owner Ronen Hillel,
confirmed that Zak is the most veteran berry grower, with the best fruit
in the business (but 2 hours each way?).

  • Gedera Berry Farm Tel: 050-216341;

  • Anat Zak’s microwave recipe for
    blackberry jam


  • 1/2 kilo
  • 1/2 kilo sugar
  • Lemon juice

  • Put fruit into
    the microwave for 10 minutes on high. Add the sugar and lemon juice. Mix
    and put back into the microwave for 10 more minutes. Transfer the jam into
    B’Tayavon — Bon apetit — Hearty appetite!

  • The following article is reprinted
    from the May 2000 issue of @The Source Israel.

    On family vacations my clever husband
    has always found a way to include berry picking on the itinerary. Sometimes
    we would eat our hard-earned berries at the farm and the rest later on a
    picnic. One year, this same husband was positively brilliant and figured
    out a way to bring them back from Canada to Israel. After we loaded our buckets
    with a few kilos worth of assorted black and red berries, he then bought
    pectin, sugar and some jars. You guessed it – back in our kitchenette, we
    made fruit jam and returned to Israel with half a dozen jars of multi-hued
    berry jam.

    These days Israelis do not need to
    travel half way around the world for this particular treat.

    The berry season in Israel begins
    in mid-May at the Zak Family Farm on Moshav Sde Yaakov, continues
    at the Landau Farm at Moshav Ben-Ami near Nahariyya, and ends
    in the Golan Heights at Kibbutz El-Rom and Bustan HaGolan
    in mid-September.

    The brainchild of 3rd generation
    moshavnik, Nadav Zak, the Zak self-picking berry farm has 7 varieties
    of blackberries — including 2 thornless varieties — and raspberries. Berry
    names are posted in the rows and you can compare tastes as you fill your

    Open in the afternoons from Sunday
    thru Friday. Closed on Shabbat (Saturday) and Jewish holidays.

    Location: Zak Family Farm on
    Moshav Sde Yaakov, 20 minutes southeast of Haifa on Route 722.

    Tel: 04-983-2539; 050-297747.

    At the Landau Farm on Moshav Ben-Ami the berry picking season
    is from the end of May until the end of July. Pick organically-grownpitango

    blackberries, raspberries, and mulberries. Landau, an expert and grower of
    exotic fruits, also offers for the pick-it-youself crowd.

    Open all day Friday and Saturday.

    Mid-week, by advance reservation only.

    Location: Landau Farm on Moshav
    Ben-Ami west of Nahariyya on Route 89.

    Tel: 050-461-981

    Further north, berry season takes
    place from mid-June through mid-September,

    Kibbutz El-Rom: In addition
    to the blackberries and raspberries found at Zak Farm, Kibbutz El-Rom
    also offers blueberries for picking, and a winemaking


    Winemaking workshop: From mid-August,
    make your own wine in a one-day session that is held daily until mid-September.
    Families begin by picking grapes and then stomping on them in the old-fashioned
    way. At the end of the workshop, you take home a 3-liter jug of wine, according
    to Avi Gavish, program coordinator. Part of the winemaking package is a country-style
    meal of labane (thick yogurt), pita and olives.

    Reservations required for winemaking:

    Avi Gavish: 050-252269

    you need to cool down, see a short film about another El-Rom industry, the
    business of subtitling films. The air conditioned theater and coffee shop
    are the perfect end to a day in the fields.

    fee. All you can eat on premises. Produce is weighed for take-away. Open
    daily from 9 AM to 5 PM.

    Kibbutz El-Rom on Route 98 in the Golan Heights.

    Tel: 06-698-1294.

    Bustan HaGolan: In addition
    to blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, Bustan HaGolan also offers cherries.
    From August through October, pears, apricots, nectarines, peaches and apples
    are part of the self-picking menu. Also on the site are picnic grounds and
    a petting zoo with alpacas and llamas.

    Entrance fee. All you can eat on premises.
    Produce is weighed for take-away. Open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM. Until 3 PM
    on Friday and Saturday.

    Location: Bustan HaGolan on
    Route 98 in the Golan Heights. Tel: 06-698-1294.

    Text and photos by J. Isaacson

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