Tracy and Rob Ben-Or visited farms in Europe and the U.S.
By Diego Flammini
A pair of newlyweds decided to try something a bit different than a honeymoon on a sandy beach with drinks in hand.
Instead, Tracey and Rob Ben-Or opted to tour small farms on what they dubbed their “farmingmoon” after they exchanged vows on May 3 near Tel Aviv, Israel.
And the couple did so without a background in agriculture.
“Our entire (ag) education thus far has been through YouTube and books,” Rob told Farms.com today.
Originally from Long Island, N.Y., Tracey owned a wedding planning business for a decade. Rob, who grew up in St. Louis, Mo., only experienced agriculture by passing corn and soybean fields while on the road.
The pair discovered a joint interest in food production and decided to explore it further after they got married.
“We knew we were going on a trip, and we wanted to do something that would be very interesting to us and kind of a once-in-a-lifetime journey,” Tracey told Farms.com today. “We wanted to travel to different farms and see what other people were doing.”
The pair also live close to a beach, so traveling to another one didn’t seem appealing, Rob added.
From July 4 to 22, the Ben-Ors visited farms in Italy and the United Kingdom, as well as farms in the Hudson Valley, New England and North Carolina.
The hosts welcomed the newlyweds with open arms.
“We really felt like we were part of their community,” Tracey said. “If they made food on the farm, they let us try it. I think they appreciated that we were putting ourselves out there to take in any information they had.”
Now back in Israel, the couple hopes to use the lessons they learned abroad to grow their farm.
The biggest takeaway is that deciding to switch from a different career to become a successful farmer is possible, said Rob, who co-owns a restaurant called Bunny Chow in Tel Aviv.
“Going to these farms, talking to these people and seeing how some of them jumped in with nothing and just bought some land is so crazy,” he said. “But they made it work because they had to.”
“It’s inspirational for us to know that we can have that kind of dream and have it be a realistic possibility,” Tracey said. “The exposure to the machinery needed to milk cows and other things like that is going to help us in the long run.”
Another takeaway from the trip is how the farmers adopted innovation.
Some producers came up with creative ways to manage financial challenges.
“One farmer didn’t have money to buy a walk-in cooler, so they bought a trailer online and turned it into a walk-in cooler for their products,” Rob said.
The new farmers have plans to expand their small operation beyond small-scale chicken production but are still looking to gain more knowledge.
Working with an established farmer for an extended period is a good way to earn that knowledge, Rob said.
“I think working with someone for a minimum of one year would be good for us,” he said. “With my culinary background, I find that apprenticeship-style learning to be very important. It will also allow us to figure out exactly what we want to do and what we can do here in Israel.”
The pair documented their farm visits on their podcast called Bet the Farm. Each episode includes interviews with the host farmers.
Tracey and Rob Ben-Or also hope to do another tour next spring.