Darom Adom rolls out the red carpet

How to enjoy the attractions in the south of the country.

kli bereshit (photo credit: Courtesy)
kli bereshit
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Now that February is upon us, the much-loved annual Darom Adom Festival is just around the corner. For the next five weekends (January 30-February 27), the festival will feature a great array of family-orientated activities that will be taking place in the Eshkol Region.
There will be tours (some of which are free), agricultural markets and of course the KKL-JNF’s traditional Kalaniyot Walk on February 8, and the Kalaniyot Run on February 14, with two-, five-, 10- or 15-km. runs.
Visitors can also enjoy concerts by popular singers, and can purchase a variety of products at farmer’s markets, including at ShukShukda in the Shukda Forest, a cheese market at Kibbutz Be’eri, Marketito at Kibbutz Zeelim, Green Market in Habesor Park, a Bedouin Shukran Market in Rahat, a farmer’s market at Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, a farmer’s market at Beit Kama Intersection, and an artist’s exhibition at Kibbutz Yad Mordechai.
In an effort to come up with a list of the most worthwhile activities slated to take place at this year’s Darom Adom Festival, we set out on a preparatory trip to scout out all the upcoming events that should not be missed. We began our day with breakfast at a cozy social café near Tzohar, where you can taste delicious pastries that are baked daily, and hear a story that is guaranteed to make you teary.
Behind the counter at the café, which is located in the Moadon Eshkol, you will find Galit Basharim, 49, who grew up in Moshav Yesha. Eighteen years ago, when her middle child was born, she decided to make a drastic career change and began baking. She slowly built up brand recognition by selling her unique cookies in local stores, and then opened up and ran a restaurant for four years. Afterward, Basharim tried her hands at a few different fields, but her son got cancer and unfortunately died 18 months ago.
Basharim recently decided to open a new café in memory of her son, located inside what used to be the science room of the local high school. This café is, however, like no other, since you can donate food to people you know, or to complete strangers if you want. This social café not only brings people together, it also serves high quality, tasty dishes. Kosher l’mehadrin.
Hours: Monday to Thursday: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., closed Shabbat.
Details: 077-729-5863.
From there, we continued on to our next stop: Moreshet Tzon Barzel, a unique museum at Kibbutz Tze’elim that tells the story of how coins, symbols and medals have been interwoven into the creation of the State of Israel over the years. This is not just any boring museum, mostly because the founder, Boaz Kreachmer, is so engaging when he tells fascinating and funny stories about the objects on display.
Kreachmer founded the museum in 2003 after the coin factory his family owned closed down. Boaz helped his father empty out the factory, but could not bring himself to throw away all the coins. He began sorting the contents, and a few years later, opened up the museum in the kibbutz’s children’s room.
Tours: During the Darom Adom Festival, the Moreshet Tzon Barzel museum will be offering tours every Tuesday and Shabbat at 11 a.m., NIS 25 per person. Tours are available the rest of the week by appointment only.
Details: 052-357-5324 or (08) 998-9211.
After spending time indoors, you’ll probably be ready to get out into nature, and so our next stop is to two lookouts: Mitzpor Hama’agarim and the Pipe Bridge, both of which are located on Besor Road, overlooking the Besor Reservoir Complex. Hanging Bridge is extremely popular, but not many people have heard of the Pipe Bridge, which is just as beautiful. There’s a seven-km. circular trail you can take that starts at the Hanging Bridge and passes by the Pipe Bridge. If you’re not up to walking that much, you can also drive directly to the Pipe Bridge. To reach the bridges, drive on Road 22 and pass Kibbutz Gvulot. After three more kilometers, turn left at the sign for Nahal Habesor Scenic Route.
If you’re an art lover, you’ll probably want to stop at Moshav Ta’ashur where you can meet Giles and Michal Jorah, artisan potters who work in their studio making ceramic crafts that they fire in their wood-buring kiln that reaches 1,300°C (2,370°F).
During the Darom Adom Festival, Giles and Michal will be holding tile workshops, and during the first two weekends, they will be offering special pottery wheel workshop. They will also be selling hot soup and fresh pitot with labaneh, in their charming courtyard. Guests are also welcome to bring their own picnic lunches and eat on the premises.
Details: 050-671-4304.
Prices: Entrance is free, workshops cost NIS 25 to NIS 30.
Moshav Tkuma
By now you’ve probably built up a pretty good appetite, so it’s time to find a place to eat. My recommendation is to go to Lot 77 on Moshav Tkuma, where they grow strawberries, pineapple, tomatoes and wild berries. Five years ago, the owners decided to upgrade their farm by introducing unusual tropical fruits. Their first experiment was with pineapple, which they imported from Honduras. Right now, the strawberries are in season, and visitors are welcome to come enjoy a few hours of self-picking.
Hours: Friday: 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Pre-registration required.
Details: (08) 993-4237.
Prices: NIS 50 includes entrance, one basket of strawberries, a tractor ride and a food coupon. NIS 25 includes entrance and one basket of strawberries. Under two years of age free.
The best way to end the day is at Meating Point 102 in Moshav Klahim, a restaurant inside a yellow firetruck that was overhauled and turned into a food truck. The restaurant offers tasty meat sandwiches made with slow-cooked and smoked beef, grilled vegetables and fresh bread that’s baked on site in a tabun oven that was imported from Italy.
Hours: Tuesday to Friday: 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. During the festival, also on Shabbat. The truck will also be parked next to the Columbia outlet store in Moshav Klahim during the festival.
Details: habsor.co.il
The Darom Adom Festival: January 30 to February 29 in the northern Negev.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.