The Story Behind Galilee Herbs
The Story Behind Galilee Herbs
I met Huri, quite by accident. The creator of these delicious teas and spices from the Galilee, was making a delivery at my local shopping center. We started chatting about the teas and spices he sells and before I knew it I was drawn in by his outgoing, friendly personality. I accompanied him and his wife to the local coffee shop and continued our fascinating conversation. Such is his passion for the products he produces, that within the hour I had agreed to sell his products for him!
Born in Israel in 1955, Huri is the rugged outdoor type. Life’s trials and tribulations show on him, yet so does his passion for agriculture, and especially for growing hyssop or ” zaatar ” as it is also called in our local valleys. This is the story he shared with me. ”
Growing up, I always felt that I was different from everyone else. While the other kids wanted to play football, I would sit on the sidelines thinking up new ideas. My father was probably the biggest influence on me. He was an Agricultural Officer in Judea and Samaria. His job was to improve the level of farming in the area, thereby improving the lives of the Israeli farmers, many of whom had no know-how whatsoever. I often accompanied my father on his trips. My father loved the Land of Israel and was very Zionistic. Through him, I developed a deep love of agriculture. The subject of herbs and medicinal plants quickly became a source of deep fascination for me and I knew that this was my calling.
At the time, I was living on a Kibbutz in the South of Israel. One day my father came to visit me in the South, and tried to convince me to move to the Galilee in the North, to settle down in one of the new residential outposts which were being built there and to live closer to him.
It was about this time that the government had banned the commercial harvesting of the indigenous zaatar/hyssop plant because it was threatened with extinction due to overharvesting by the local Arab community. My father had the responsibility of creating a new cultured version of the zaatar plant which could be grown by local farmers.
With the promise that he would teach me everything he knew about growing hyssop, at the age of 27, I moved North to the settlement of Alonei Abba in the foothills of the Galilee. I had few possessions or money, but I had a vision of learning everything there was to know about growing zaatar. I knew it would be an uphill climb, but I always had a vision of my goal. Slowly but surely I progressed toward my goal of knowing everything there was to know about growing Zaatar.
One day, after a few years of living in the Galilee, a jeep pulled up next to me while I was working in the fields. Some people got out and asked me what I was doing. I told them about my passion for growing zaatar, and that it was my vision that zaatar would be eaten in households all over Israel.
They told me that they were TV producers for Israel’s only TV channel at the time and that they were looking for someone to feature in a new TV show – they were looking out for someone from the Galilee who was doing something special! It was like a godsend. In just a few short months the whole country would be watching a show about me – a young guy who had moved to the Galilee to fulfill a dream.
That show was a turning point for me in my career and passion for growing Zaatar and the product became very popular both at home and abroad. I decided that I needed to add a spiritual message to my products. I felt that through my products I would bring love back into the world.” When people sit down and drink a good herbal infusion, they feel contentment, optimism, and enjoyment.
Over the years I amassed a wealth of knowledge about herbs and medicinal plants: I knew exactly when to plant, when to harvest, when to separate the flowers from the stalks and how to dry them naturally using the sun in order to keep their perfect aroma.
The central message I learned from the growing of zaatar, is that as long as man does not understand that he needs to live the moment, he is living under an illusion.”