In the foothills of the Lower Galilee lie Israel’s olive groves. Nick-named the “generous tree” for its all-giving qualities, the olive tree is a source of food, energy, medicine and cosmetics. But for the inhabitants of the nearby villages olive oil production is not just a commercial trade. For them it serves as a culture and tradition. Each year when the harvest is due families go together into the fields to pick the olives from the trees. As such, in recent years the Galilee has become a local hub for numerous activities dedicated to the celebration of olive oil.
The Lavido Visitor Center
The Israeli cosmetic brand Lavido specialises in products which are made entirely from organic ingredients. These comprise of the plants and herbs cultivated in their own botanical garden at Nahalal. They are then mixed together with olive oil produced from the Galilee’s olive trees in the surrounding fields.
At the visitor center based in the village of Nahalal (famous for its circular shape) visitors can tour the garden. Growing amongst the beautiful rose bushes can be found an array of citrus fruits, pomegranates, Bulgarian lavender, mint, rosemary and lemongrass. Information is presented next to each plant or herb describing the physiological and physical homeopathic health benefits that they can be used for. Next to the garden is the Lavido factory store. On offer is a large selection of natural beauty products, aromatherapy oils, and personalised gift packs.
The visitor center is situated at Farm 9 in the town of Nahalal in the Jezreel Valley. It can be reached by taking Route 75. Upon entering Nahahal the visitor center is clearly signposted throughout the town. There is a car park on site.
Opening hours: The visitor center and factory store are open daily. Sunday – Thursday & Saturday: 9am – 6pm and Friday 9am-3pm.
Tours for groups of 8 or more should be made by appointment.
Price for tours: Free of charge.
Avtalion Oil Press
Looking out onto breathtaking views of the Galilee is the Avtalion Oil Press. Sixteen years ago, on return from his time spent in Greece, Asaf from the Avtalion village set about creating a modern working-oil press. The site was renovated but the framework of this vintage building remains intact.
Inside lies the huge oil press. Here olives picked from nearby vineyards are crushed and the pips and flesh removed. High quality olive oil is then produced and delivered to the local residents. During the pressing season (October – January) visitors can watch this process in action. They can either bring with them their own olives or pick them from the nearby fields. Throughout the rest of the year the place is still open for visitors to see the equipment, watch demonstrations, attend lectures about the olive oil industry and its history in the Galilee, and enjoy a tasting workshop sampling the different local products.
In addition, at the entrance is a large outdoor boutique café. The menu is based on Galilean authentic produce offering the likes of organic honey, tahini, goats’ cheese, pickled olives, and freshly baked pastries. It is open for breakfast and lunch. With the option to lie in a hammock or take a seat perfectly positioned to observe the olive groves and distant mountains this is an ideal spot for those looking for a place of tranquility far removed from Israel’s bustling cities.
Visiting Avtalion Oil Press:
Opening Hours: Sunday – Friday: 9am – 4pm.
The oil press is situated in Avtalion Village in the Lower Galilee. Avtalion is in on road 7955 next to the town Arabe.