Picking Cherries in the Desert at the Yatir Forest Cherry Festival.
(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
On May 26th and 27th in Yatir Forest, local farmers celebrated their second cherry festival, a venture organized jointly by KKL-JNF, the Yatir Region Tourism Association, the Ministry of Tourism and the Negev Development Authority.
Yatir Forest - a huge patch of greenery amidst the yellowish brown of the desert – is considered to be something of a marvel. The agriculture that flourishes in that enchanted part of the country is, however, a true miracle.
At Yatir Forest's second annual cherry festival, Hundreds of visitors came to pick the cherries and enjoy the various activities on offer for all the family.
“Who would believe that cherries could grow here in the Negev, so close to home,” asked Omer resident Molly Ben Aharon in astonishment as she picked together with her children. “This really is a very special experience, not just for the children, but for me, too,” she said. “This is my favorite fruit and I’ve picked loads,” added her son, four-year-old Eitan.
Nati Yisrael, Director of Tourism in the Yatir region, explained that the festival is designed to give the general public an opportunity to visit this wonderful region and see for themselves the remarkable agriculture it sustains. “We have amazing agriculture here, but many people aren’t aware of it,” he said. “Yatir Forest
is full of activity and draws crowds of visitors, and it’s important to us that more and more people come to the area. Here they can get in touch with nature, history and the local landscapes, and at the same time learn something about our farm produce.”
The attempt to show people the area has most certainly been successful, as around 10,000 people visited the festival over the two days for which it was held. “This is precisely what KKL-JNF is aiming for – opening up the forest to the public,” said Rinat Kedoshi, KKL-JNF’s Southern Region Media and Public Relations Director. “Yatir Forest is a wonderful place to hold a festival like this.”
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