My mission in Palestine

November 10, 2017

From the first time I talked to Layth, I knew we will get on.

Layth is working at the CORE (THE CANAAN CENTER FOR ORGANIC RESEARCH & EXTENSION).
The CORE is an organisation that stands for improving the livelihoods of small-scale Palestinian farmers, artisan producers and their communities by promoting ecological and organic farming.
Layth invited me to join this interesting project in the north of Palestine in Summer 2017.

And what have I been doing here? I try to explain it in the following lines.
My mission was linked to the CORE project led by Layth. I helped farmers (go to the section interviews to meet some of them), who are already applying some organic farming practices, to analyze their soils and examine their lands and crops to suggest different techniques based on permaculture.
Also, I gather some relevant info about the farmers’ practices that I shared with the CORE team at the end of my mission.

The farmers are located in the region of Jenin, in the North of Palestine. A region with a lot of olive trees and where many families depend on the income coming from the olive oil production.

The ideas I shared with them are mainly focused on improving and regenerating the soil together with different techniques to harvest and conserve rainwater. The visits normally lasted 2-3 days and I feel extremely lucky to get the chance of living in the farmer house with his family.

The experiences, encounters and wonderful people I met during these 4 intense weeks could feed 100 different posts but I am going to summarize some of the most interesting and funny ones.

So, during these weeks I…

  • Helped the farmers in harvesting olive trees while being part of their traditions and culture
This picture was taken from the trailer of Khader’s tractor in Nesf Jbeal, Palestine, after harvesting.
  • Woke up at 6 am to cook falafel
Cooking falafel with Hosam at 6 am. He sells it in a small shop close to the main gate of a school. In Palestine, many people have more than one job.
  • Helped to make a traditional Palestinian sweet called “Kunafa”
The Kunafa can be found in many places in Palestine and it is delicious! Inside there is cheese.
  • Attended 5 weddings without being invited and without knowing neither the husband nor the wife
Children and adults getting fun in one of the events I attended in Palestine. Men and women celebrate separately in the wedding parties.
  • Talked about different plants and trees to one of the farmers, found them in a greenhouse and gave them to the farmer as a present
  • Bought an alcohol-free beer and drink it hidden
  • Saw the wall that separates Israel and Palestine from an olive field
Sunset with the outline of the fence that separates Palestine and Israel. At the back, you can see the tower of a mosque from a small village.
  • Became History teacher in a small village with less than 3500 inhabitants and explain the time where the Arabs were in Spain
  • Ate hummus for breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Visited a school of boys and be surrounded by hundreds of children asking me “what’s your name” non stop
Picture of the school for boys at Kofrthelth where I created a small chaos.
  • Saw tear gas being thrown to the refugee camp in Bethlehem and smell it

This video shows the smoke of the tear gas thrown to the Refugee camps and the moment we decided to move into the house as gas was reaching us.
  • Saw one of the farmers crying after explaining him the idea about the site www.mevout.com
  • Met a Palestinian doctor in the street who is about get retired, who lived in Croatia and who has a son in Australia
  • Asked permission to use the toilettes (if you want to know why just ask me 😉 )
  • Covering my human basic needs in a toilette without latch in one of the farmer’s house with 8 children very curious
  • Was transported in a trailer around sacks full of olives in the sunset
I really enjoyed this moment, just by contemplating the landscape and the olive trees. Montasem, at the right, helped in the harvesting.
  • Gave a hand to the manager of an olive oil press
He is the manager of the olive oil press of Kofrathan who shared with me his dreams of traveling to Spain and Europe one day.
  • And much more…

I want to thank all farmers who have been part of this unforgettable experience for their hospitality and for showing me the Palestinian culture and traditions.

Abunur from Faqoua
Hosam from Kofrthelth
Adnan from Kofrathan
Yosef from Jalqamos
Mahmod from Jalqamos
Ahmad from Anza
Mo’tasem from Sebastia
Khader from Nesf Jbeal
Mohamed from Al-Yamun

This is a picture taken in Nesf Jbeal with the farmer Khader. From left to right: Khader’s mum, Diana (CORE team), Layth (CORE team), Khader, me, Khader’s wife, Khader’s son and Leen (CORE team).

You can find the report at the following link.