About the founders:
Hannah and Eyal Izrael
During our travels through the Negev we came upon a hidden riverbed with remains of an ancient farm and vineyard. We instantly fell in love with the place and decided that we would establish our farm at the site, which had been a vineyard during the Nabbatean period more than 2,000 years ago. We established the Carmey Avdat Farm there in 1998. Our dreams of building a farm in the Negev for cultivating grapes and bottling wine were made possible with the help of the “Wine Route” project.
Our deep love for the desert began with our studies in the field school of Sde Boker and continued throughout the years of hiking through the canyons of the ancient farms and gardens of the Negev and traveling through the deserts of the Sinai, Australia, and Morocco.
Our exploration of the deserts served as the foundation for our vision and dream. We learned to listen to the voices of the desert and to respect it - but not to attempt to tame it.
When we first stood on the hill overlooking the wadi (riverbed) it was desolate and unexplored, and it was barely possible to discern tire tracks of other visitors. We began to imagine the place and how it would look in the future. We decided not to build our home and farm with the help of architects, but to let our feelings and instincts guide us.
We planted the vineyard, taking care to preserve the ancient terraces, and utilize the ancient irrigation system. The guest cabins were built in a manner that blends into the view while still being completely exposed to it. They are constructed to best utilize the natural climatic advantages of the desert breezes and sunlight. The infrastructure of the farm, its facilities, the fruit trees, gardens, and pools are all built to integrate into the natural environment. All were conceived, planted, and built with a deep love for the place where we have chosen to live and to raise our four children.
The farm branches include vineyards, a winery, guest lodging, a metal shop, and a store where the farm products are sold. The farm also hosts workshops, seminars, and excursions.
No foreign workers are employed on the farm. We employ only Israelis who have completed full military service. All the farm employees live here with us. Our Bedouin neighbors lend a hand during pruning and harvesting season and over the years we have developed good neighborly relations. Our children also help with the tasks on the farm and are full participants in making decisions.
Who are We?
Hannah was born in the northern town of Kiryat Shmonah in 1964. From 1982 – 1984 she served in the military as a teacher in the Sde Boker Field School. It was there that she fell in love with the wide open spaces of the Negev.
Eyal was born in Haifa in 1959. He first became interested in agriculture during his high school studies in the Be’er Tuvia School at Moshav Avigdor.
Hannah and Eyal spent two years wandering in the Negev, and then traveled to the Far East and explored the Himalayas, Australia, and New Zealand.
After returning to Israel Hanna studied design and architecture, and Eyal studied photography. In 1991 they moved to Mitzpeh Ramon and began working for the Israel Nature Preservation Society.
During that period Hanna worked at Chai Ramon and wrote her book of poetry entitled “Turtles Don’t Brush their Teeth.” She also worked in the Karev program as coordinator for programs in the south and developed study programs for schools and kindergartens and served as a pedagogical adviser for the southern region. She is a graduate of the Kibbutz Teachers’ Seminary, where she completed studies as a group therapist, and is presently studying anthroposophist art therapy. She presently works as a group facilitator for therapy groups that meet on the farm and in the area.
Eyal developed an officers’ study program on nature preservation for the IDF. He also served as a volunteer for the Negev rescue squad, where he continues to volunteer. He learned welding and metal work with Chofi from Kibbutz Ein Shemer, and his work is displayed and sold in the farm store. Eyal was taught the art of winemaking from Yuval Ben Shoshan from the Ben Shoshan winery at Kibbutz Bror Chayil and at the Soreq Winery in Tal Shachar.
In 1998 Hannah and Eyal established Carmey Avdat Farm, where they now live with their four children.