One hot afternoon in the Negev

We found a little green oasis.

IMGP1540The mist from the overhead sprinkling system came on, and my peers at Shorashim were pulling up SHORASHIM (Hebrew translation: “roots”)! This was like a rite of passage for many in the group. They had never pulled a carrot before!

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The excitement was contagious. Everyone became instantly giddy, running into the little patch of carrots with big grins, posing for pictures (yes, plenty of goofy/naughty ones), washing their new roots off together, and trying to pull up all the different colors available. It was as if someone spiked the punch!

It actually reminded me of one reason why I love to work in agriculture: because pulling a carrot is still totally novel and exciting for a lot of people . . . and getting to be there when they finally get their hands on their first one fully affirms that food is filled with magic and wonderment.

IMGP1510Then we moved on to the tomatoes. And on our way in, I spotted passionfruit,

IMGP1492grapes,

IMGP1549and this.

IMGP1573And I must admit that the sight of dilapidated cardboard beehives changed my tone a little. I just went to the BioBee website to check it out. I think my gut wins on this one. They do cite IPM (Integrated Pest Management) which is a reputable system in the ecological agriculture community, so I won’t go into judging without more information. However, I will mention that their marketing angle is an eyebrow-raiser. In their main promo video they cite that supposed “strict governmental demands to eliminate the use of residual chemicals in agricultural produce [have] forced modern growers to turn back to nature in search of natural and competitive alternatives to chemical pesticides […]”.  First, using “strict” and “forced” in relation to more ecologically sound agricultural practices says plenty about their stance (and I still don’t know of any such regulations). And second, “natural” is not a regulated term like organic, so my ears always perk up when I see or hear it in the context of any product.

Those bumble bee boxes were made out of cardboard, and after being used in their intended greenhouse sprinkler environment they looked so ragged. This makes me a bit concerned for the bee’s well-beeing and the care that is taken for their lives and services.

(Sigh.) OK, rant aside now, check out these gorgeous cukes and tomatoes!

IMGP1594 IMGP1593IMGP1601 IMGP1581I didn’t want to sour the taste of someone’s first fresh taste of a cherry tomato, and I certainly didn’t want to come off as more a hippie than I was already giving off—8 year old Birkenstock sandals and tie-dye pants do not help mask the closet hippie in me—but I had so many questions about what the heck “sustainable” farming might mean to this farm and to Israelis in general. I kept asking questions when I could manage to pull the tour guide aside. Noticing the drip irrigation setup by the carrots, I leaned in:

“So, uh, do you pump nutrients in through the drip irrigation?”

“Yes!”

“Oh, nice, so what kind? Are they chemically based or organic?”

“No, not organic. Just sustainable.”

“Ah, ok. Do you know what is being used?”

“No. But we should ask the agronome! You should talk to him! He will tell you everything!”

When I thought of the agronome, I pictured a little gnome-ish man with a beard, spectacles—no, not glasses, that would be silly! A gnome would only wear spectacles . . . and a sharply pointed hat. Or maybe he was like the Wizard of Oz, he would tell me everything I wanted to know about this sustainable farm.

So I stopped asking more questions of the guide. I did point out that tomatoes were not indigenous to Israel (the guide was talking about the “invention” of the Tomaccio tomato), but other than that I smiled and tried a couple tomatoes I was less familiar with. At the end of the tour, interestingly enough, the tour guide asked me my age. “Almost 27.” “Ahhh, too bad.” “Ha! Umm, why?” “You’re just a little too old for my son.” “Oh!” (!!??)

I also got these “Biblical Herbs” there. That web link is awesome, by the way, because it refers to dipping bread in olive wood. Never heard of that! (Nota bene: I think they mean oil.)

All in all, it was a fun afternoon on the farm. I saw the most beautiful strawberry room which makes me want to grow suspended strawberries just for the aesthetics of the scene.

IMGP1485 IMGP1624IMGP1609The End!

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ALL PHOTOS IN THIS POST ARE BY ME. ALL ARE SUBJECT TO CREATIVE COMMONS LICENSE. THANK YOU!
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