by Yael Adar
“This is no Disneyland,” says co-owner of Shvil Ha’tapuzim (the Orange Path) just outside of Hadera. It’s a place where children between the ages of one to 12 can play outdoors, amidst the orange
trees and participate in a variety of activities – while their parents quietly drink coffee in a converted citrus packinghouse built in 1910 during the Turkish era.
Established four and half years ago, this place would be worth the visit just for the mere preservation of the orange grove, even if it had nothing else to offer. The fact it does have a variety of activities – in a quiet relaxed atmosphere, just makes it that much more special.
Israel’s orange groves are fast disappearing, becoming a thing of the past, a symbol of a bygone era. There are two primary reasons for this change; 1) Israel constantly has to battle with limited water resources and citrus crops consume large amounts of water. Consequently, orchard owners in fertile areas are uprooting this crop, which for many years was associated with Israel’s very development. 2) In areas such as the Sharon, (long associated with the beginnings of the citrus industry in Israel) – the need for additional real estate is also weighing in. As more and more land receives the necessary building permits it is converted from farmland into new neighborhoods and – orange groves are quickly disappearing from the landscape.
So what exactly can kids do here at The Orange Path?
They can climb on an elaborate type of jungle gym (see photo), above the treetops, that is apparently not for the faint of heart. In fact, for safety reasons – everyone must wear a safety cord to prevent accidental falls. At the moment, additions are being made to this installation, which will make it even more intricate.
Or, they can climb and wiggle inside a hanging ‘snail’ made of netting, play in the carpentry area – where they can make and paint small chairs, tables, or whatever else they fancy – from scraps of wood. There’s also a small miniature golf area. There are of course tree houses and even miniature cars – which the drivers of tomorrow can enjoy in a specified area of the park.
If that’s not enough – you could always pick oranges (that is, if you visit between November-April). You’ll get a sack – be led to the picking area – where U-Pick your own oranges and then pay a nominal fee. Oh, and for a small price there’s an area where kids can make their own orange juice.
There’s no picnicking allowed on the grounds – although there is a nearby picnic area – for those who want more than the coffee shop/kiosk offers. The coffee shop, which is located in the renovated packinghouse, also serves as an indoor play area for the very young children. The walls have been beautifully painted and wonderfully decorated tiled windows have been installed.
Shvil Ha’tapuzim is only open when kids have time off from school - Saturday’s, holidays and summer vacation. The site is accessible to groups during the week, by prior arrangement.
Directions: Shvil Ha’tapuzim is located on Route # 65, outside Hadera, just around the bend from Kibbutz Gan Shmuel. If you’re coming from the Gan Shmuel direction, look for the sign on the right. Those coming from the coastal road should drive until the first gas station on the right (a Sonol station). At the entrance to the gas station there is a large sign that leads to a dirt road to the Orange Path.
Visiting Hours: Winter – 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM, Summer – 10:00 AM – 6:30 PM.
Entry fees apply. .