Hidden carefully in HaYarkon Park is a magical urban farm experience called HaChava. Melanie Weiss explores both the organic farm and the educational center at this uniquely Israeli park attraction.
The emphasis at HaChava, Tel Aviv’s only urban farm, is clearly on reusing and repurposing. From the composting green toilets to the farm itself—a seventy-year-old municipal property turned just two years ago from an agricultural school into a public property serving a whole host of local needs—reinvention is clearly the order of the day.
Hidden away in HaYarkon Park, this organic farm and educational facility is well worth the journey. HaChava offers a variety of programming, with an emphasis on the many children visible on any given day. Every weekday afternoon finds story time taking place under the “Strawberry Tree,” and the section for farm animals—full of rabbits, chickens, geese, goats, peacocks, sheep, a watchful ostrich and a very vocal cadre of roosters—has a lovely seating section for children’s events.
These events for children are only among some of HaChava’s programming options. It also hosts students completing their primary agricultural educational unit from a variety of schools across Tel Aviv and Jaffa, and, beginning the first of October, adult programming in the arts and yoga will be available to the general public. According to manager Merav Oren, the farm also just launched its first Mechina program mere weeks ago, meaning that there will now be four pre-Army youths volunteering full-time for one year prior to beginning their service.
While urban farms are taking off in major city centers across the world, HaChava’s particularly Israeli aspects make an afternoon there memorable. Spices, tents and an herb garden showcase local flavors, while seedling displays demonstrate a variety of the innovative irrigation techniques for which Israel is famous. Posters labeled “From Tree to Table” explain the growing processes for native produce, while signs outside the beit habe’er (well house), exhort visitors not to waste water, one of Israel’s most precious resources. The farm displays its familiarity with Jewish as well as Israeli sources, with displays expounding upon pri hadar (beautiful citrus fruits) a concept that arises from the Bible, is expanded in the Talmud and clearly still holds resonance today.
In classic Israeli style, the farm is not for looking and learning only. You can sample some delicious fare at Greylanda, a restaurant located on HaChava’s grounds. Although the farm doesn’t provide all of the food for the restaurant, Greylanda recently began cultivating its own plot and should begin reaping the tasty benefits soon. If you want to work up an appetite before enjoying the relaxed outdoor seating, no problem: HaChava leases plots in their community garden.
The farm can be challenging to locate and the hours vary with seasons - so we recommend planning your trip with a relaxed schedule and even calling in advance. This one-of-a-kind rural experience in Tel Aviv’s cosmopolitan heart is not to be missed. Take a cue from the city of Tel Aviv and reinvent yourself—the results are delicious!