As told by Merav Barzilay, owner of Meshek Barzilay
In 1932, 35 couples made aliya to the craggy area called Yarkona. With a loan of 10 Israeli liras, they purchased wooden shacks that were 16 square meters each for living quarters, drew water using a one-inch diameter hose from a water plant in Ramatayim and decided to build an agricultural settlement (moshav). The first years on the moshav were very harsh. On the Barzilay farm (Meshek Barzilay), a warehouse was set up to hold all the eggs, milk, and produce of Yarkona.
“There was a swamp where daffodils flowered, there were jackal howls and croaking frogs, hissing snakes in the sand and fireflies twinkling at night, and the virgin land cried out because this was not enough…” (Ori Oren, a son of the moshav).
Among the 70 pioneers were my grandfather and grandmother, Ada and Eliezer Barzilay, who arrived at Yarkona with their 5-year-old son Yoram (my father). They built a chicken coop and planted an orange grove, and within a short time became known at Yarkona and the environs. My grandfather believed that "only manual labor, especially in farming, will build the country and realize the aspirations of Zionism.”
Barzilay farm, or Meshek Barzilay, was self-supporting for years by raising special types of citrus fruit, even attaining great achievements among the coops that were set up at the farm.
When my father, Yoram Barzilay, passed away in 1998, this wonderful farm became overrun with thistles and thorns. It wasn’t clear how to cope with the farm, what to do going forward. Who would continue the vision and develop this wonderful place which was so important to my grandfather, grandmother, and father?
I decided to make a dramatic change in my life and leave my urban job at an advertising agency in Tel Aviv to take over our farm in Yarkona. From the beginning it was clear to me that the dream would be a mixture of farming and food. And if already we are talking about farming, then of course it would be organic farming. The first stage was contacting the organic agriculture organization and learning about all about organic farming. The teachers at the organization today recall that my dream didn’t look practical back then in the beginning.
I realized all my aspirations by remodeling the old coop and turning it into a small café that sells organic products next to a garden of mixed greens entirely grown according to natural organic methods. A small place of my own, where I could do things exactly according to what I believed in. My basic philosophy was to provide health food made from plant-based organic ingredients and this is how the place evolved.
In March 2013, after years of ongoing struggles in an attempt to keep Meshek Barzilay at Yarkona, we decided to leave the moshav and look for a continuation for our farm that would be more harmonious and surround ourselves with love and good neighbors and not wars and hatred. This decision was made with lots of support from lots of good people
Serendipitously, we arrived at the small and enchanting patio at 6 Ehad Ha’Am Street in Tel Aviv, exactly at the time that the amazing and historic Tazza D’Oro café had decided to close its doors. We quickly understood that this is the right place for us and we moved with all our staff, our love, and our professionalism to Tel Aviv.
Now in Tel Aviv, we continue our way, keeping the traditions of our kitchen, bringing organic vegetables and fruit from wonderful farms around the country and placing great emphasis on health, balanced seasonal food, and expanding veganism more and more as a way of life and philosophy in our kitchen.