I don’t know how blessed I am, to get to visit these houses in Lebanon, and how applicable it is for me to discover Lebanon and how I’m getting to meet those people Ahh! I really don’t know Don’t you like how I use the shovel? I’m a master in shoveling I’m working and I can smell the scent of the olives, I’m working and I’m recalling the days when I was younger in the mountains, how I used to help out in the garden. You’re used to me starting off with having breakfast, like “hummus and foul and mana2eesh” (Lebanese breakfast) Today it’s different, I’m back to Al Chouf, and I’m going to show you another side to it. I’m going to show you how each and every one of you can make a difference. I’m back to Al Chouf, and today I have a shovel. Why do I have a shovel? Because we’re going to do something we’ve never done before. Obviously Al Chouf has good food, and places to stay, but it has way more than just that. And who’s going to tell us about them? Nizar, my friend, who I consider one of the most important person who’s working for the environment. Nizar, I’m back! What are we going to do today Today’s visit is different. Today we’re talking about sustainable agriculture. Today we are talking about production of plants, animals. We’re talking about converting products and touristic agriculture. We want to make sure if you know Al Chouf well! Then let’s start working! Let’s go! Anthony, this mixture that we’re seeing today. Is made up of sawdust coming from agricultural land and what’s left of it, even from bushes. and from dried olives. what’s the reason behind doing this mixture? it’s because we want to produce industrial firewood or compressed firewood. We use it as an alternative of cutting trees. So, we use it as another way in winter to light a stove. This is the alternative for it. Thing’s start here! This is what we get out of the waste in the bushes. And this is what we get, that’s the dried olives. so, we mix together and that’s the final shape we get. This is about 2 days, in 10-15 days it would turn to look like this. we put them in packs. Then we sell them in those boxes! It’s worth 5,000 L.L. And my back cracked… 5,000 L.L.!!! Next, to the Alley of Batloun We’ll go to the agricultural land. Let’s go! Thank you! I promise I’ll build a chimney in my house, just because I loved the idea and I felt that I can help the environment. I’m done with my cup of coffee, and we got to a village called Alley of Batloun. In Lebanon we see old houses, but we don’t get to see an entire village that’s still the way it is. And it’s not ruined, even if there’s no sealing to it. Tell me more about where we are? It’s fascinating! Right! You’re in the old village of Batloun. Batloun consisted of 22 houses in the alley, and we call it “Batloun Il Tahta” . In 1956, an earthquake happened and the houses got demolished. These are the houses you see here. Okay, so we are going to have a small tour, to show you the old houses and the old architecture, walls, bricks. the color and how they stand next to each other. okay, so a tour and we’ll continue! Where do we start? I wish they could be fixed, they’re broken and the walls are bent. But they’re beautiful. Only if an organization would volunteer to clean and fix them, they could re-do each brick like a puzzle and it could be one of the best cities of the world! I’ve seen all the houses, 28 house! But these type of houses “Aked” (traditional house with bent sealing) stand tall, and could last for hundreds of years! I think each of us should build Aked (traditional house with bent sealing) houses, no one knows what happens! So, the experience starts where you try to get back the old atmosphere, the old cultivation. How farmers live as well. We should live the experience by riding onto the truck. Yes, as you can see the view is wide and open, you’re not sitting in a closed car or a van. You get to feel the energy that’s found, he scent of the alley, the wind of the river, and the odor of the nuts. As you know it’s a different experience, it adds more excitement to the idea, before we get to the part of the cultivation and the food. Firas when someone gets here, he could see the old town or come to the event in 16 17 18 August, and he could visit the field, then he plucks fruits and eats them directly You go up a trail from here, and here there’s an axe. Look here. Can you see it? Those rocks? This axe goes done here, and there’s a metal plate here, that’s not here now. The water hits the metal plate, and it starts circling then the axes turn, and the mill’s stone rotate! There’s a huge pot that’s filled with wheat so when the axe rotates, it starts hitting this pot and then wheat start falling down slowly. We got to the garden and it’s starting to become crowded, tell me who are those people? Tell me what are those young men doing. True, because here in our village we started noticing that farming is decreasing, and the farmers are growing. And there’s lots of traditional cultivation, so we chose to start a new project, farming that suits us as youth. Using new organic and sustainable techniques. A group of 10-15 guys took over neglected lands, and we’re re-planting it in an organic manner. We re-plant it in an organic way, and each year we’re increasing our land, so that the dream comes reality and the village becomes based on organic cultivation! We are talking about young men, let’s meet them Young men! young men that are planting and spending time in the lands. We will meet them now. And how much do we that Lebanon is full of opportunities, not that it’s not. Young men that are happy with what they are doing, and they are going to give us some of their crops to try. and we will meet them now on breakfast. Dandruff! Rocca! Parsley! And lots more! The first time this project was presented to us, we got astonished since we go to university, and we don’t really know anything about farming. Until we started working, and it was vivacious! It was superb that we were planting, and putting in our effort. And when you get to see the organic vegetables which you know how it’s growing, it’s something precious and enjoyable. We got excited, and got used to the routine and the idea of it. You guys live here all year long? It’s very beautiful to see young men living the life of a farmer that’s alost 50 years and above, We got here, lived the experience, and we took a mini truck, walked up a hill, I lost all the calories and I had amazing food! The traditional Labne, the roasted manoushe that’s crunchy! The Fatayer (Lebanese spinach wrapped in dough) that are exceptional the thyme, and apple molasses It’s incredible, and the vibes are very relaxing. the sound of nature.. This is it, what you’re seeing today, the family vibes we’re living, you can get to live it and you can find them on Instagram, Facebook, or Google Maps I added the pictures, you can see them. I’m so happy with my breakfast, so glad we’re gathered. Thank you. And a tour in Al Chouf, continues… I’m doing a tour in Al Chouf, and I’m discovering a new face of it I never new about before, which I can call natural products and plantation, not organic. People are planting and taking care of their lands more. Tell me about the dream, the goal, and what are we working on today. First of all, we are re-planting the lands. The old lands that have been neglected, that’s on one hand. On the other hand, we are re-planting the planted lands, that works in a sustainable way. Al Chouf Biosphere reserve, not Al Chouf reserve only. Cedars natural reserve. Al Chouf Biosphere Reserve is all of the Chouf villages in Al Chouf. The main goal is for everyone to plant, cultivate, clean, and conserve water in a better way. We are working on a huge concept. Everyone could come visit and try out your vegetables and fruits, he’d know that they’re planted in a very sustainable way. And we even saw how the men are working. You go up to Al Chouf, and you pluck your own fruits that’s 100% natural, and you get to hear the sound of the water and spring. They get to have lunch at your restaurant. A good bite just from the village, and environmental! It’s pure sugar! Should we walk down? Let’s go! waw! Welcome the guests, in the mean time We don’t let the trees bale, we put them for the garden to stay full of life and growing. It’s plucked directly off the tree, Yes since they’re gathered next to each other, when you pluck one, two comes out Look at the insects! Yes! It’s nature 100%! Even the grass we don’t spray it. Yum exceptional! It’s even and taken from the tree! Sweet! I’m so happy that I met you. The water well that is very cold and good in taste! I’ll definitely be back, to try the good bites again. and I might come with my kids.And I invite each and everyone of you to come. Oh wait the camera has dirt. Great! Now you can see clearly, we have arrived to Ramzi. Come let me introduce you to him. Hi Ramzi, how are you? Doing well?
Hello! Greetings! The land, tell me what you’re doing.
This land, was a neglected land from 50 years. back to my grandparents days. It’s a relaxed land! Mister Khalid and the Al Chouf reserve group came to offer us the organic planting. All of this land, was exactly like this side of the land. And this project was our aim. How nice is it for someone that used to plant in the traditional way and used to hold the sprinkles and water the plants. Today he’s convinced 500% that sprinkling isn’t good, and the organic way works better. 1000%! Not just that, I’m excused of holding the sprinkler and the motor. the air i’m breathing, and I’m feeding the people poison-ness chemicals. And the result you’re getting better results.
Look at the results, come take pictures of it. Did you notice how we keep talking about planting the crops next to each other? So they help even more? Look at the basil, we can use basil in different ways such as pesto paste. It has a very good smell.. This is organic planting! This is the long lasting cultivation, and the organic planting that we all need to follow. I haven’t seen someone more generous! He picked them up one by one, and he insisted. Thank you! I’m so happy we got to meet, and I hope everyone comes to visit you. It’s super easy getting here, you can call Al Chouf reserve and they’d give you each persons number And they’re pamper you the same way they pampered me.
Those are the goods of Ein Zhalta. I wanted to say thank you to the municipality’s president and all of the Al Chouf reserve, and especially to mom. Hi Wael! Hi. So tell us where are we? We’re in Ein Zhalta in Restfull Guesthouse! We have started from almost 6 months, People come here because we have food of the village… which is tasty and prepared by hand. I also have the Guesthouse that’s made up of 6 Chalets. The guesthouse has 6 rooms. Yes that’s right. that we call Chalets! Because each room has a kitchen and a salon. You welcome people at your house. Yes that’s true. and we can see that it’s not the visitors first time here. 100%! Do you serve them food? My wife takes care of the food, and it’s traditional village food! They’re all vegetables from here. What are we eating today? Msakaa (Lebanese Dish), which has Hummus and Eggplant Tabbouleh (Lebanese Salad), Warak Al Arish (Lebanese plant based dish), Kafta (Meat), and Fries. The food is exactly how you have it at home. 100%! We serve people what we have as well at home. Without adding anything, you serve the dish from your house. Destiny wants us to be in Al Chouf when there’s an event happening. This what a coincidence, we came here while ago. Farmville, which is organized by Cedars Projects. And behind me there’s a Yoga festival taking place, I think they’re about 200 people laying on the floor. So come let’s see. And I’m going to run to eat! When people get to Ein Zhalta to an amazing house, That’s seen from the lower road. it has 2 floors, it looks amazing, but you haven’t seen anything unless you go in… Tell me more about this house, I’m not going to add anything more! This house, I think, is one of the best houses in Ein Zhalta it was in a very dreadful situation, and what we did, is save this place We wanted to save this house, from falling and for it to become a Villa with an elevator! So what you see now is not what we aim for. Let’s have a tour in the house! Don’t worry you will get used to the Camera.. Waw! So I want to say in Al Chouf there’s a Guesthouse, a house, where there is hospitality. and there’s a hotel, but there’s something unconditional and unexpected, which is this house! It’s a come-back to the roots, someone who lives in this century loses his mind. but if someone lives in the mountains, your mind goes back to it’s natural state.That’s very important. A person drinks out of the hoes, or from the well. Do you know what this means? The smell of tomatoes, water in a pitcher we are going to eat Labne in a while, and the vibes here are spectacular! and you have an amazing house! Thank you! Okay, so I’m busy eating. We’ll meet on the other spot, Kareem go ahead of me… After Labne, we need a salad, and before dinner we made a second dinner by getting to Fadi’s. a new concept, which is a resto-pub in Al Chouf. the meat in the pottery is super soft! What’s nice about it that it comes warm, becuase it’s still put in the boiling oil. Makanek with Eggplant You left everything to come here and open a pub and a restaurant! Tell me about the concept. So we’re trying out something new. but after traveling the world, I have a passion which is Lebanon! There are babysteps that must be taken, and did start! We twisted the Lebanese food as you can see avocados and meat Makanek and eggplant, everything we get here is from a mini market, and it’s all from the village. In a way or another, we are a community here we are helping each other to get to our goal. This is our concept. Fadi’s resto-pub, come encourage him he’s opening in those 2 days. We are the very first people who’re coming here. A cold beer, a good bite, the weather’s wonderful, and it’s super chill. And this is the vibe here! I don’t know how we met and how we got here. All that I know is that I have been eating fruits and vegetables ever since the morning. I know that this woman’s clothes are really nice, and she took me to her garden that looks amazing, to tell me what she does. more than just cultivate fruits in Al Chouf. The best part of this garden is not what I do, what we are doing is, we’re continuing a work of a genuis man who started it. We are the people who are taking over a project that started before, and the man which started this project is the Judge Boutrous Njeim, We started planting trees, and the trees started growing, but I started asking myself, while the trees grow what are we going to do? I said, let’s plant some Lavender. And we started with a project essential oil. They told me that I am going to meet you, but I had no clue that we will exchange lots of stories, I think we can do two episodes only under the title of Al Chouf’s comtemporary and what you’ve done and about the festival you did four years ago. And I have to admit that I couldn’t come back, but I surely will. I’m very excited to meet with you again, to tell us more about the history of this place, that people don’t know of. Only people who live here knows about it. I can tell you over 100 stories, if we do an episode everyday, I can tell you everyday about a new topic. Okay! I’ll be back soon. It can be about art, about planting, about.. tourism, everything and anything! Knitting, anything you want to hear! I’m going to do an episode about Knitting, cool! We got raised up with the thought of loving our country and our village. and our biggiest worry was for people to come back to their village then the war started, and people left after the war, and when we came back, we saw that this village was abandoned! we opened a hostel. and we started with small rooms for whoever wanted to come but didn’t have a place to stay, with a low price. We took care of the village.. we took care of all the problems and the people who lived here.. and we used to rush to solve the problems, with a pure heart. So they chose me to be the president of the municipality. I took this position for 15 years. I did everything in the village… You didn’t tell them who you are and what you do, I’m going to tell you who I am.. I am Charel Boutrous Njeim. The son of the past president, Boutrous Njeim This morning we called this episode the episode of science and awareness. And this episode continues, we still have today at night, and tomorrow. “Al Fondok”, is a very nice hotel, it has breakfast, lunch and dinner. An open buffet on Sunday.. Today’s Saturday and we’re having dinner. And as we notice, we have 4 plates of eggplants infront of us tell me more Em Boutrous (Boutrouse’s mom) plants, so in summer we have all types of vegetables, we have a menu, it’s only 20,000 L.L. We don’t have a stable menu, because what we pluck we cook, and put on the table. But for this week, we choose to to a festival of eggplants! That’s what we call it, the Festival of eggplants! Everything is delicious, the eggplants are tasty I’m so glad we met, I’m so happy I met Yolla! An Amazing experience! Ever since 6:00 PM till 9:30 PM, we spoke about the village, the fruits and vegetables, and old houses. I feel lucky that I got to know about new things today, Our day ends here, I’m thankful you invited me over to “Al Fondok”! And our trip continues! Greetings from Jbaa, I’m the municipality’s president Ehab Hammad. This event is specialized to encourage the ecotourism in Jbaa, especially the agricultural, the environmental, and the touristic. Jbaa is a town that’s 1250 Meters above sea level. Most of it is agricultural. 60 to 70% of the citizens that live here are mostly farmers. And today within this event we are promoting this environmental and touristic action. Hopefully, everyone here’s enjoying there time, and everyone’s welcome. Now, we opened a new door to Darb Al Hajar, it spreads around 2.5 km and we’re currently opening a new land that’s almost 10km. This land has a view of the Eastern Bekaa, with a mind blowing panoramic view! This is how the second day starts in Al Chouf Sarah’s going to walk all the trail, and I am going to prepare a thyme Manoushe for her! When you come back the breakfast’s on me. Deal, let’s go! Go! Take care and tell me what you’re going to see. There’s really good food and manaeesh, is it possible for me to leave all of this work on the ladies? Come let’s meet them, while they go on a walk and come back for breakfast. I desired one. I stayed here just to take care of the Manaeesh. Not because I don’t want to go on a walk, just because I want them to come back and find food waiting. Thank you! Manoushe of the village… Yum, the traditional one with thyme They have a strong taste with the taste of the land! Waw! She uses the same thyme that she uses at home.. She added the thyme and roasted the sesame.. That’s exactly how I want to start! This tomato grew on the mountains of Jbaa It’s the best! May God give you life. Breathe.. Inhale, exhale. Exhale again. We are going to walk on the moon! Houston can you hear me? We have arrived to the bee hives.
I’m going to walk on the moon, and we will get to know why the bees are very important in Lebanon, and especially in Al Chouf. Hi Raid! Hi. We are going to walk together and we will gather honey. Nowadays, we are talking about how important the Lebanese honey and the bees are. I have gotten so close and I will show you unseen footage for the first time inside the hive. While we talk about the importance of honey. We have an enormous amount of pastures and flowers. And in categorizing the flowers we have the ones that give nectar and that fertilize. And we have a percentage of medicinal plants. And for that reason, our honey is known as featured and different. It also has medicinal and health values. Our honey is special because it’s mixed from various flowers. not like the ones that we get from Europe. In Lebanon we have three seasons the spring season in which we focus of citrus. We have the middle region where we focus on the honeycomb symposium, where it comes to the oak tree. And we have the inventory honey that comes from the west and the east side. Magnificent! Honey under the sun, live and fresh. It has been just removed, and the feeling you wouldn’t feel twice. The taste of the land, The sweetness is very minimal. It smells great The bite tastes like Lebanon. Here, in this guys land. There are many birds down there. We have reached to Qalaat Niha Al Chouf. We met Ajwad, and he is going to tell us about this castle that was carved, and which has an important history of Lebanon. Greetings, we are here in the last entrance of Castle of Al Chouf reserve. This Castle’s history stretches back to more than 2800 years. Many civilizations have passed onto this region, but we are still not quite sure about who carved those rocks. What can a person see here? When the visitor comes to the castle, we give him a brief yet detailed explanation about the castle and reserve. And the castle consists of 8 wells, some of which are for water and the others are for seeds. and for the rooms, we have 4 to 5 rooms. However, the rooms are not accessible now since they’re on the second floor and there’s no way to them. I want you to meet Robert, he’s american and we won’t talk in English. He came to Lebanon in 2011 and ever since he fell in love with it. Why Lebanon? I chose Lebanon because it’s such a special place, and it’s people are one of a kind. I really enjoy it here especially Al Chouf, I come her every year. I even wrote my PhD about the reserve of Cedars Al Chouf. I really love Lebanon, I even visited the Northern part of it, You always come back? I always come back, but last summer I couldn’t make it. But I did come this summer and hopefully in the future. I love Lebanon and it’s food.. This is a certificate of Lebanon! He’s 100% American and he speaks Arabic better than most of the foreigners. He comes back and promotes our country! Of course! It’s one of the most beautiful countries. Thank you! Would you take us along?
Sure let’s go. This is Iaad, where are we going? We are going to Al Ferrani (The Oven). We want to chop the wood. Let’s chop! We heard of composting and chopping, but tell me what each one is. The pruning of trees, leads us to composting and chopping the shreds, which leaves space on the ground. In that way the sheep and cows could walk freely and eat. The chops of the trees that we turn into blocks, and the other chops that we turn into compost, we mix together to get organic substances it helps us in planting. Anyone could buy compost? Yes of course! Ready compost could be sold, and the bricks as well. There’s nothing of the environment that we can’t use. We can use those and benefit of them. The burning of those products is dangerous.. It could burn the entire land. I ran to the kitchen to see what’s being prepared, The hummus, there’s a really good smell.. Kawarma and almonds are very crunchy! and the Labne is homemade by me. even the walnuts and the Markouk bread.. I am going to give you 10 minutes while I take a tour in the garden, then we eat. The customers come and have breakfast, and our customers, especially the ones from Europe, they enjoy coming to pluck the tomatoes.. since they have never seen tomatoes that grow on mountains. Even the tomatoes and cucumbers are from here! Everything’s organic and without chemicals I want to try both! She told me I have to try berry juice and molasses juice. Turns out she has a very special way of freezing them You can eat them like Sorbet Their sweetness wouldn’t be strong the crunch of the walnuts… Tell us what are we going to eat today? Tell us about your food. We are going to eat Hreeseh!!! Hreeseh (Meat with Wheat) is my favorite! Traditional old food! Those are the foods that could be served in our hospitality houses here. I cook this food the same way I cook at home. Let’s talk about the Hreeseh, how much time does it take and how important is it? The Hreeseh you have to cook a day before at night. You have to cook the meat, clean it and change it’s water… then you put it on low heat before a night. When it boils a bit, you add the wheat. I really love this dish! For the young men who don’t eat Hreeseh.. I know it doesn’t really look good. because it was cooked for hours. once you try the first bite. What am I going to tell you? Warak Einab (Plant based Lebanese food), Fweregh (Intestine of sheep filled with rice), zucchini Hummus with Kawarma.. I can smell and especially feel the vibes of the house. other than this food is wonderful. We’re going to a place where we could see crushers. We are going to show them how we crush and demolish mountains. And how we sell gravely to all the world. Let’s go, we’re going to show you the crusher. What’s the price of transporting the gravely? Did you actually believe that people would sell gravely in Al Chouf? Or that there’s a crusher that demolishes mountains and ruins the environment? Of course not! But during the war, disrespectful people did this and got paid for it So tell me what’s this project? This is the region where someone took over and crushed the mountains back in the war. But we are going to re-plant this area. I can show you the other side how it’s filled with trees. And if God’s willing, this road will be the fifth road that leads to the Cedars of Al Chouf in couple of months. And hopefully in couple of years you will see green plants and trees everywhere. Hopefully, all the mountain crushers in Lebanon , and all the mountains covered in white dust would turn into green areas. And as we can see, there’s a place to sit and the oine trees are starting to grow. and when I come back in couple of months with my kids, they won’t even know that this place was once a crusher. That’s right! That’s what we are aiming to do. Hopefully the next generation wouldn’t know how demolished this land was due to the war. And I hope that all the municipalities would re-plant those lands just for our kids. I started eating, rice and homemade food The tabbouleh is without onions and mixed very well. We have Kebbeh, Eggplants, Watercress salad, and Loubia. Tell us more about how people get to you and what do you cook? How do you welcome people? The people call me through the phone or social media. I have a page on Facebook called “Maidat Darb al Karam” I cook Lobia from my garden, my husband plants them the parsley, tomatoes, watercress all from our garden They’re all organic and nothing we use has chemical substances. If someone would like to call her, or find her on Facebook her name is, Basima Zeidan, “Maidat Darb al Karam” Or you can call Al Chouf reserve. You can come eat at her place, or she delivers to you. Thank you for your hospitality. You’re mostly welcome. My house is your house! Yum! Rice and Tabbouleh! Amazing! I visited for two days here in, Al Chouf and I’m saying to myself: “I can’t believe my eyes, we think Lebanon is all about the news.. they say it’s messed up and dirty, but it seems super clean. We think everyone throws out of the windows, but here everyone is helping the environment. they say that all of the planet are sprayed with chemicals, but here everything is organic. They say Lebanon doesn’t know anything about organic, but here everything is the opposite of what they said. They say there isn’t any green spaces and trees, but what I have seen here is mind blowing. Two days in Al Chouf were amazing, I got here and I had no clue that the table would turn. This episode was supposed to talk about education and love, everyone wants to learn something new, and there are people teaching them. How am I supposed to forget Hussam, who’s growing his crops and taking care of his land? He is proud that he plucks and eats. How am I supposed to forget Ramzi? Ramzi who has always been a farmer, and used to cultivate his crops using the traditional way, but now he has been talking in the name of the environment and the organic. And his products have increased. The tree paths, the houses, the hospitality, the people who cook, the people you could live with. Meshwar (the trip) that’s mind blowing, and this is Lebanon. No one spoke of the news, the drama or politics, no one reminded me of any of that. And that made me feel like I am living in A7la balad bil 3alam (the most beautiful country)!! It’s Lebanon, but it felt like Europe. People respect their land, this land, we are keeping for our children, for them to keep it safe and protect it. An amazing trip (Meshwar), that ends here, and i hope it raised awareness about how to cultivate, what to eat, where to throw, extra. In order for it to stay A7la balad bil 3alam (the most beautiful country). We will surely meet again in a new episode to show the world how much we are civilized and we love our country.