June in Israel is known as the month when the weather starts to get really hot, and when kids finish the school year and get geared up for family vacations and water hikes. You’ll be happy to know that Israel’s agro-tourism sector has developed nicely in the last few years, and June is the picking season for fruits like cherries and juicy wild berries such as strawberries, Pakistan mulberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries.
Israel’s picking season for these fruits is relatively short, so make sure you don’t miss out on this fun activity. Most farms that cultivate cherries and berries are located in the Golan Heights, and the picking season usually wraps up by the end of June.
This is a wonderful activity that is fun for the whole family. One extremely easy way to make this outing even more amazing is by staying overnight at one of the many bed and breakfast options in the region, and enjoying a nature hike while you’re there.
Below, I will introduce you to five fun places to pick cherries and berries in the Golan Heights this month.
1. Levy Farm, Moshav Sha’al
The Levy Farm, located on Road 978 just north of Moshav Sha’al, is a favorite among families. Many have been coming here for years in the summer to pick exotic fruits like Chinese mulberries, Goumi berries, Pakistan mulberries, red currants, European gooseberries, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries.
The Levy Farm also has camping grounds with good facilities, including tents and cabins, a petting zoo, BBQ pits and a bonfire area where families gather in the evenings. The owners – Roni and Tiki Levy and their family – are constantly engaging with guests, and offering explanations about the various fruits that grow on the farm.
Hours: Sunday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. (closed on Shabbat) until the end of September. Fruits change with the season.Price: NIS 30 (from age 2)Location: On Road 978 just north of Moshav Sha’alDetails: (04) 698-1651; www.meshek-levy.co.il
2. The Horse and Cherry Farm, Moshav Odem
If you haven’t been to the magical Horse and Cherry Farm in Moshav Odem, then I highly recommend making your way there this summer. Visitors are welcome to pick raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, cherries, strawberries, mulberries, figs, peaches and pomegranates through the end of September.
Live performances and cultural events will take place on summer afternoons and evenings. A petting zoo and beehives with transparent walls can also be found on the farm, so you can watch the bees as they buzz around, hard at work. There’s also a children’s play area and a café that offers some of the best coffee in the region.
Cherry picking season will continue through the end of July.
Hours: Sunday – Thursday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m., Friday 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m., Shabbat, 8:30 a.m.–6 p.m.Price: NIS 25-36, which includes all-you-can-eat and attractions. Prices of fruit baskets for self-picking vary according to weight. Details: 1-700-707-190, www.cherry-farm.co.il
3. Katif Odem
Katif Odam is one of the oldest fruit picking farms in the Golan Heights. The site is meticulously maintained, and from the moment you see the luscious climbing plants at the entrance to the farm, you will realize how special this farm is. The large number of loyal customers who return to Katif Odem year after year is proof of its success.
In an effort to enhance the visitors’ experience, there is a large tent lined with mattresses so that you can rest after you’ve finished picking the fruit. Moreover, there are lots of shaded picnic areas where you can eat lunch (no BBQs or fires allowed).
The farm grows a variety of cherries, alongside wild berries such as black mulberries, red and black raspberries, European gooseberries, all of which are grown pesticide-free. Additionally, there is a beautiful shop where visitors can purchase jams and spreads produced in the Golan Heights.
Hours: Throughout the month of June, every day 8:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m. Throughout the month of July (wild berries only), Sunday – Thursday 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Price: NIS 25 (from age 3), includes all-you-can-eat fruits. Baskets sold according to weight.Details: 050-845-0962; www.katifodem.co.il
4. Habustan Shel Moti
Located in Emek Habacha, Habustan Shel Moti grows a variety of cherries and berries, including blackberries, blueberries and mulberries, as well as figs. Visitors are welcome to eat as much as they want straight off the vines free of charge. There are lots of shady areas to sit and rest, as well as a shop where guests can purchase cold drinks and locally made products. The view from Habustan Shel Moti of the Golan Heights and Mount Hermon certainly makes the trip worthwhile.
Hours: Through the end of June, open all week 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Best to pre-register on weekdays. Price: NIS 30 (from age 3)Location: Emek Habacha, near Kibbutz ElromDetails: 054-260-0160; www.habustan-moti.co.il
5. Duvduvan BaGolan
Located in the beautiful Odem Forest, smack in the middle between Mas’ada and Moshav Odem, is the Duvduvan BaGolan self-picking farm. At the site, you can enjoy picking blackberries, cherries and blueberries. The camping site next to the cherry orchard has a parking area, restrooms, showers with hot water, drinking water, benches, tables and chairs. There are also plenty of shaded picnic areas, and a great view of the landscape of the northern Golan Heights and Odem Forest. Guests are also welcome to take advantage of Druze hospitality, including coffee, herbal tea, Druze pita with labaneh and za’atar, chocolate, and hummus.
Hours: Throughout June, Friday and Shabbat, 8 a.m.–6 p.m. Registration required for weekdays.Price: NIS 30 (from age 3)Location: Near Moshav OdemDetails: 050-768-0789
Translated by Hannah Hochner.