Many recipes call for tomatoes or tomato products - but how many vacation outings include tomatoes? Well, at least one. Throughout July, the Prinir tomato company is organizing all kinds of tomato-related or tomato-enabled attractions. Joining the food company is a slew of kibbutzim that supply Prinir with tomatoes: Sde Eliahu, Messilot, Kfar Ruppin, Heftziba, Neot Mordechai, Yifat, Ein Dor, Lahavot Habashan and Ein Harod.
Visitors can participate in any of three tomato harvests
(NIS 25) and go home with a crate of fresh-picked fruits. From June 4-5, Kfar Ruppin will host the harvest over an area of 200 dunams. From June 10-11, Sde Eliahu has the picking party, and from June 19-20, it moves to Messilot.
Okay, fine. Tomato-centered "tourism" that is really just tomato picking is understandable. But how else do tomato producers get their juices flowing? They invite you to see the area where they grow the goods. Kfar Ruppin is offering a trip to see its bird-watching facilities - along with tomato tasting, of course. Every Friday throughout June, just before dark, this guided trip - arranged by the Mekor Hahasida birdwatching center - will head out to see the spur-winged plovers, turtledoves, bee-eaters and other birds. It will also include a session on biological methods of rodent control, tomato picking and impressive overlooks.
Hmm. Birds, rodents, harvesting. What's left? How about organic farming? At Sde Eliahu, family-friendly "bio-tours" are going on, where participants learn about organic farming in all its facets. And after all that, it's fair to assume you'll have worked up an appetite. Grab a (kosher) meal in the kibbutz dining hall for the full experience.
Other attractions up North are jumping on the tomato (band)wagon, giving Prinir coupon-bearers discounts of up to 15%, including the Teva-Naot factory tours at Kibbutz Neot Mordechai; Susy's Studio (which offers art workshops to all ages) at Messilot; the Pioneer Museum at Kibbutz Yifat; and the Archeological Museum at Ein Dor. Plus, assuming you're hungry for something other than tomatoes, the Dag Dagan restaurant at Kibbutz Heftziba specializes in fresh fish and vegetarian dishes.
If you don't live nearby and want to extend your tomato-filled vacation over more than one day, a number of accommodations are also offering deals for lycopene hunters. There are couples-only suites, couple- or family-friendly cabins, rooms and guest houses at Ein Harod - along with a pool, playground, tennis and basketball courts, barbecue areas and cow milking. Nofei Habashan at Lahavot Habashan has guest cabins too, for both families and couples, near a stream that runs through the kibbutz, a kosher restaurant, a spa and two swimming pools. Plus, especially convenient if you plan to do the bird thing at Kfar Ruppin, there are also guest rooms at that kibbutz.
So while it may be a stretch to call this Prinir party entirely tomato-centric, it's as good an excuse as any to take a little trip - especially when the price is right. Plus, it'll give you an excuse to whip up some gazpacho and Bloody Marys for the hot summer days ahead.