Why are esrogim grown in Kfar Chabad called "Calabrian" if they are sourced from Eretz Yisroel?
Most of our products are sourced from Eretz Yisroel. This includes most of our extensive range of esrogim, some of which are from a species known as "Calabrian" esrogim.
Esrogim from the trees of Southern Italy are called "Calabrian esrogim" because of the place where they are grown or "Yanover esrogim" because of the port from which they would be shipped in previous generations.
The Rebbe Rashab retold many times in the name of the Alter Rebbe of Chabad that when Hashem told Moshe Rebbeinu about the mitzvah of Arba'as HaMinim they sent messengers on clouds to bring back Calabrian esrogim. The Rebbe explained that this was based on the obligation to perform mitzvos in the best possible way, as the Torah says “משמני הארץ יהיה מושבך - all the ‘fats’ should be for Hashem”. The Medrash Rabba and Rashi state that this refers to with regards to esrogim this refers to Magna Graecia or איטליה של יון (i.e. Southern Italy).
It is important to emphasise that the hiddur of Calabrian esrogim is not their outer beauty, for there are much 'nicer' esrogim from other locations, rather the hiddur is based on the chazakah that Calabrian esrogim are not grafted.
What many people do not know is that in the 1950's the Lubavitcher Rebbe instructed R’ Nachman Elbaum to take seeds, saplings and cuttings of esrog trees from Calabria and plant them in Eretz Yisroel in Kfar Chabad. This was done to ensure that the esrogim were not murkavim (grafted) which rendered them unfit for the mitzvah.
These days, there are only a few kosher esrog orchards left in Italy. Orchards in both Eretz Yisroel and Morocco have successfully cultivated a variety of these esrogim using seeds taken from the original Calabrian trees. These esrogim are therefore still called "Calabrian" esrogim or "Kfar Chabad" esrogim as opposed to the original "Yanover" Calabrian esrogim.
Whilst some Chabad chasidim are still particular to source their esrogim from Italy, other chasidim now prefer Calabrian esrogim that are grown in Eretz Yisroel as these have the added benefit of being grown with the kedushas Eretz Yisroel!
Please note, whilst Italian grown "Yanover" esrogim have become increasingly rare and expensive due to their limited numbers (recent winters have decimated the Italian fields) we are offering them in three grades of quality for our customers.