Over the past decades, Agrotourism became more popular around the world, and Israel is not an exclusion. One of the popular activities in Israel is Cherry Picking. Due to the hot climate, Cherries grow in cooler areas. All Cherry Picking activities we visited were in the Golan Heights. Let’s begin!
Cherry Picking In Odem
Odem is a small village located at Golan Heights. Odem has a farm that specializes in growing different types of berries, but mostly cherries. And they let you collect the fruits by yourself (official site).
Map of the area:
Note: you can enlarge the map by clicking on it.
To get there, enter “Odem” into a navigation app. Once you reach the entrance gate, continue straight for 50 meters, and you will see signs and the entry to the farm.
In 2018, I visited Agronen Raspberries at Gedera and Cherry Picking In Odem in two following weekends. This video is the result of those visits.
Cherries are the most popular berries there:
The Process In Odem And Many Other Farms
So how does it work? You buy a ticket, which costs 25 NIS per person (20 NIS if you download a coupon from their site). Then you can take small baskets. Each basket can hold about 1 kg. And on exit, you pay by the collected weight. Usually 30 NIS per 1 kg of cherries. And while you are inside you can eat freely as much as you want.
The owners say that all plants are organic. Thus you can eat everything directly from the trees/bushes. There are also sinks and soap on the premises, so you can wash the fruits before eating. But, most people eat directly from the trees.
Cherries are probably the main attraction. They are tasty, and there are many of them. But there are other berries as well. Moreover, over the years, they started to plant many different kinds. But the trick is to arrive when not only the cherries are ripe, but other berries as well. From our experience, this is usually toward the end of the cherry season, but that depends on climate.
If you look at a cherry tree from above, then you probably will not see anything. To see the cherries, you need to look at it from the bottom (since leaves cover the fruits).
And this is a look at the Golan landscape:
Another interesting thing I have noticed is that most visitors are Israeli with Russian origins. Probably because in Russia the climate is colder and there were a lot of cherries. This cherry picking is a childhood reminder for them.
It is a pity that we saw the following sign only towards the end of our visit. The sign says that it is better to pick the cherries together with the “tail” (the sting). This way, the cherries will be better preserved, and next year, there will be more crops.
There are even some sitting places (if you ate too much cherries and need a rest 🙂 ).
We spent there probably three hours and enjoyed our visit. If you like agrotourism then you should probably check this place.
Cherry Picking At Odem – June 2016 Update
Everything remained the same as in previous years, but this year there were no berries. Only cherries. So, if you are looking for or hoping for specific berry type, call the organizers in advance.
Here are several photos from this year’s visit:
Cherry Picking At Odem – June 2018
The farm is expanding, and there are new additional fields of berries were planted. We saw additional fields of gooseberries, blueberries, and redcurrants.
Gooseberries were still not fully ripe, but eatable.
Also, since the number of fields increased, they put a map at the entrance. I have attached a photo of it at the top of this post.
Cherry Picking At Odem – June 2019
We visited Odem today (15.06.2019), and there are no major changes. However, there are several small updates:
- Cherry season is open. Other berries, like gooseberries and raspberries, are not ripped yet.
- There are now also toilets inside. So you do not have to exit the farm, and we did not see lines to the restrooms (as in previous years).
- When entering Cherry Picking at Odem, there are two lines. One for people who purchased tickets on the web (through coupon sites or in advance), and the other one for people without tickets. The line for people who purchased tickets in advance was already quite long at 9:30 (the other line was short). Thus, to skip the lines, I would suggest arriving at 9 am or earlier.
Cherry Picking In Bustan Bereshit
We visited Odem several years in a row. Thus, in 2017, we decided to try something different and went to Ein Zivan.
Map of the area:
At Ein Zivan you can find Bustan Bereshit (official site). Bereshit is known to many Israelis via their apples in supermarkets. But they grow not only different kind of apples, but grapes, berries, and cherries.
Though, the official site says they are closed on Saturdays, we visited on a Saturday. It was the peak of the cherry picking season, and we did not arrive too early (were there around 10:30). Therefore, it took us almost an hour to park the car and about half an hour to exit the parking lot at the end of our visit. This operation would take no more than five minutes on a regular day. Thus, either come early or try coming in the afternoon.
At Bustan Bereshit
Bustan Bereshit, at least on paper, offers more attractions then Odem. As we entered, we saw several attractions for kids.
We also saw a small exhibition of old machinery (about a dozen tractors and harvesting machinery).
And we continued towards the main attraction, at least for us, cherry picking.
The concept is similar. You pay 33 NIS for entry and when on site you can eat freely. If you want to take fruits home, then you buy boxes at an additional cost and fill them.
Organic pesticide control:
The one thing that I looked for and did not find was water. We ate fruits straight from the trees (did not wash them), but after several minutes, kids become completely red. And there are no taps nearby to wash them.
Extreme closeup, with 50 mm reversed:
A small playground for kids next to the entry to cherry picking.
There is also a small animal corner on site. Besides the standard small farm animals, there was an alpaca
and a donkey.
Back to the machinery exhibition.
There were two additional attractions for kids at extra cost. Some variation of karting, which was closed and half open horse riding. Why half open? We bought a ticket for 10 NIS at the cafeteria, but the horses were on semi-strike. Our horse passed several meters and stopped. The organizers told us that the horses needed some rest and we went to see other horses on the farm.
At this point, we decided to call it for today, and after several hours at Bustan Bereshit, we drove home.
Other Agrotourism Attractions
In my blog, you can find similar attractions in the Agrotourism category. But here are a selected few:
- Strawberry Picking At Hod HaSharon
- Self-Picking Raspberries at Gedera
- Picking at Tali Grapes in Moshav Lachish
- Honey tour at Dvorat HaTavor Visitor center
- Olives Picking At Galili Olive Oil
- Ktofoti – Self-Picking In Bethlehem Of Galilee
Cherry Picking is fun and tasty. We love it and return annually. Where should you go? If you are looking for additional attractions for kids, then Bustan Bereshit is the way to go. And if you are more into cherries and other types of berries, then Odem is the one for you.
What is your favorite place to pick cherries? Tell us in the comments below.
That’s all for today, and I’ll see you in future travels!
Here are several resources that I created to help travelers:
- Israel Trip Planner is the page that will help you to create your perfect travel route.
- National Parks And Nature Reserves page lists and put all national parks on the map. There is also a top list, information about ticket types and campsites.
- If you are looking for things to do, here are the pages for Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Sea Of Galilee, and Makhtesh Ramon.
- Wondering what events are there in Israel? Here is the Events And Festivals By Season guide.
And if you have any questions then check out Useful Information For Tourists To Israel.