Author Topic: Palestinian farmers hungry for change  (Read 749 times)

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Offline EC

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Palestinian farmers hungry for change
« on: October 26, 2013, 04:40:38 PM »
A news story, relevant to prepping and frugal living? You are off your gourd.

No - I am not.

Farming as resistance

"If people start having their own food … [the Israelis] can make a curfew. They can shut down the whole country. I don't care because I have everything around me," Khufash says. "This is resistance to the occupation because I don't need to buy your food. I don't need anything from you."

With this idea of self-sufficiency in mind, Khufash has turned about half an acre of land that he inherited from his father into a permaculture demonstration farm that he uses to feed his family and offer courses in alternative agriculture.
Murad al-Khufash is one of the farmers practicing self-sustainability [Eric Reidy/Al Jazeera]

He grows a wide variety of crops using a method called "companion planting". Every plant has multiple functions in the overall ecosystem of the farm, and he pairs plants together that are mutually beneficial.

For example, cauliflower has deep roots to extract nutrients from the soil, whereas potatoes have roots close to the surface. So, if you plant them together, they do not compete for nutrients. Cauliflower also has thick and wide leaves that give shade to the potatoes and protect them from frost, he explains.

Instead of chemical fertilisers or pesticides on his farm, Khufash uses compost and manure to enrich his soil. Plants are put into the ground to attract insects that are beneficial and repel other insects that would damage his crops. He also uses water catchment systems and natural design principles to irrigate his farm and reduce his reliance on Israeli-controlled water resources.

Connecting consumers and producers

Fareed Taamallah, a volunteer with a community organisation Sharaka, sees a disconnect between farmers such as Khufash - who are practicing sustainable or traditional agricultural methods - and Palestinian consumers.

To address this gap, Sharaka started a weekly summer farmers' market in Ramallah, where 20 to 25 farmers producing food grown using traditional or sustainable methods come to sell directly to consumers.

"In our market, we know where [the food] is coming from, who the farmer is … We know all his family, his life story, everything," Taamallah emphasises.

The direct relationship is important because, without help, Palestinian farmers producing this type of food will lose out to Israeli and international farmers selling cheap, industrialised crops on the Palestinian market, Taamallah says.

A big part of the problem, according to Fatima Saed - a volunteer at Bait al-Karama, a women's collective in Nablus - is that many consumers have no idea that much of the produce they buy comes from Israeli settlements.

We always felt unable, un-empowered to do anything because of the occupation. We need to change that mentality.

- Lina Ismail, environmental activist

Bait al-Karama is launching a project to document where vendors in the city source their produce, and to map seasonal Palestinian foods so that consumers will know what goods they should be looking for in the market, if they want to support local farmers.

"If consumers knew where their food came from … I think they would think twice before they bought," Mansour says.

These projects, and others like them, are putting together the pieces of what a sustainable and local food system in the occupied Palestinian territories would look like, Saed says. "We complete each other."

The full article is here:

Companion planting is a hugely powerful tool, as mentioned in the past.
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