by Rodolph Farah
This story is about a young man, Khajaq Stanbulian, admirer of nature and it’s welfare, who decided to grow organic fruits for the pleasure of cultivating and for its benefits. This young man began his simple project by working in a small land at the bottom of a mountain at Hima Anjar. He removed the stones by hand and a pickaxe, prepared the rows and adjusted the soil to provide a deep trench for plantation. Two summers ago, he took strawberry tips from his garden and planted them there. He used the oldest everbearing variety known to Lebanese farmers, and planted them like any other vegetable plants, not aware about the methods used for strawberries, in term of distance and density per square meter. He used the traditional methods of propagation and fruiting, yielding minimum crop, only for the pleasure of eating. After a while, he discovered that strawberries are wild plants, needing no pesticides for protection, nor chemical fertilizers, where the traditional animal manure was sufficient for the yield he desired. Knowing that, he decided to stay organic, without the need for a certification, just for its benefits and the unique taste he is obtaining. Throughout time, this young man began to exploit the land, adjusting further areas, and adding new plants, but he still used the old way, which needed too much land with low yield.
A few months ago, SPNL expert visited the municipality of Anjar. He met with Khajaq’s friend, Berje, and they visited the land in question together. There, the expert taught them how to care for everbearing strawberry varieties, and how to optimize the yield through trimming and flower removal. The expert advised Khajaq to include new varieties like Albion, and gave him contact for the plant distributors. Khajaq then bought hundreds of Albion tips and planted them on site, irrigating them and preparing them for the summer production. In the upcoming weeks, the plants of the old variety will cease to produce, while the new Albion variety will begin. This year Khajaq will have a long cultivation period from early spring until late fall. Up until now, he is distributing his products among his family and his friends.
Were you to ever visit Anjar, Khajaq would be very pleased to receive you in this land and let you taste his organic strawberries while you sit on old wooden broken chairs, under a wooden hut covered in wild canes, with a view overlooking Anjar and the Bekaa valley.