Our group always seems to be craving food, but today we tasted the freshest of the fresh. We visited Talmai Yoseph a Kibbutz that was home to Shvil Hasalat. The kibbutz and others like it are only the beginning of Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion’s dream- that the sand covered Negev would blossom into a beautiful garden and place to live. Shvil Hasalat is a complex of gardens in which fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs are grown and sold. Shvil Hasalat is particularly special because it is not only in the desert but is also just five miles away from both the Gaza Strip and the Egyptian border. During our visit we were given a tour of the gardens, shown how the farmers protect their plants and save water, and most importantly we tasted the fruits (and vegetables) of their labor.
We were given a tour of three of their farms. The first farm we saw was filled with cucumbers, hot peppers and a large variety of tomatoes. Our guide told us about a drip system invented in Israel that is used by nearly every country to conserve water and still work the farm. We learned about how Israel created the cherry tomato and how tomatoes can come in many different flavors colors and sizes. After a talk, which seemed to take forever, we were finally given a chance to taste the delicious foods our guide had been showing us. We walked around the facility picking tomatoes and cucumbers to be eaten. Each tomato I ate came with a new flavor and sensation, and the cucumbers were weird and prickly.
Next we went to the herbs garden. We ate a lot of leaves and flowers that tasted much better than we expected. We ate chives that tasted like onions and garlic, a red flower that was sour and Spanish mint that is probably a much better choice than brushing my teeth. After that we went to the strawberry gardens that were my favorite. There we learned how a strawberry is grown and how not a single pesticide or chemical is used on the strawberries. Instead of pesticides, the kibbutz buys small containers holding the predatory bug of anything that would eat the strawberries. We also learned about how the strawberries are grown in coconuts and how and water that isn’t used is dropped into a collector which holds the water until it needs to be reused.
There’s nothing better than going to sleep knowing that tomorrow we will wake up and have a brand new adventure awaiting us. Layla tov from Kibbutz Ketura!