Meet the women who harvest the land of Israel

Have you ever wondered who produced your artisanal olive oil or your locally-made cheese and wine?

Chances are that you’re imagining gruff men toiling away in dusty groves or inspecting huge oak barrels. And while that may be the case in many instances, it certainly hasn’t always been that way in Israel, where women were  pioneers just as much as men in the country’s pre-state and early days.

Rachel Yanait Ben-Zvi, for example, was not only the wife of Israel’s second president, Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, but also an avid agronomist who taught Jerusalem women how to grow vegetables, milk cows and make cheese. Hana Meisel, meanwhile, was Israel’s first female agronomist and a renowned feminist who established an agricultural school for women in the country’s north. And throughout Israeli kibbutzim, women could be found working the land alongside their male counterparts.

Fast forward to the 21st century, where women continue to play a role in Israeli agriculture. While they may be pioneers in that they’re at the top of their game in fields so often thought of as male, they are also part of a decades-long tradition of strong, independent women whose labor of love is as inspiring as it is awesome.