Sunday, September 03, 2006

"Insisting on Life" with the Palestinian Fair Trade Association: A Photo Essay

The Palestine Fair Trade Association (PFTA) is an inspiring Palestinian organization based in Jenin, Palestine. By creating a network of Palestinian farmers and international grassroots partners, the PFTA has allowed small Palestinian farmers to access international markets and insured that decent wages and profits are provided to everyone involved with the olive harvesting process. In addition to focusing on local economic development, the PFTA works to develop an ever-growing array of fair trade products in keeping with Palestinian traditional agriculture practices. Currently, PFTA farmers provide fair trade certified honey, sun-dried tomatoes, couscous, olive oil soap, olives, and of course, virgin and extra virgin olive oil. Under the Israeli military occupation of Palestine, the PFTA work, best encapsulated in their motto "insisting on life" represents an exciting form of economic development and resistance.

I was lucky enough to be able to travel to Jenin to visit the PFTA and learn more about their programs and daily life for Palestinian farmers. Here is what we saw:

Any visit in Palestine starts out with playing with a crowd of beautiful and lively children,
And then progresses to a meal of epic (and delicious) proportions.

After visiting our host's home, we drove to their fields to see the olive groves and develop a better understanding of the lives of Palestinian farmers and the work of the Palestinian Fair Trade Association.

This olive tree was planted as a part of the PFTA's Trees for Life Program. Through this program, a portion of all of the PFTA's sales go to plant new olive trees to replace those destroyed by the Israeli military occupation of Palestine and empower Palestinian farmers. Between Tree Day (Feb. 15th) and Land Day (March 30th) thousands of Trees for Life are planted in Palestine. All of the recipients are members of the PFTA and priority is given to small farmers, women land owners, brand-new young farmers, and farmers who have lost trees in the Israeli occupation. Because olive trees can live for hundreds of years and provide important income for Palestinian families, trees like this one are an important form of empowerment and a meaningful link between Palestinian farmers and the global fair trade movement.

There is hardly a season in Palestine when it's not time for harvesting something.
In the north, August is the time for harvesting tomatoes (which taste wonderful fresh off the vine)

and time for picking grapes (which taste even better).

From visiting the fields and receiving pounds of grapes, we visited the Palestine Fair Trade Association's olive oil bottling factory.

It wasn't easy to say good-bye to the beautiful Jenin valley. But at least we can take Jenin's bounty with us. The Palestine Fair Trade Association has partnered with organizations to ship to UK, Canada, Australia, Japan, the USA and other countries. Check out the Palestine Fair Trade Association website for more information and become a part of the fair trade movement. You will never find a better tasting revolution.


Anonymous said...

I'm going to PFTA this summer! I still find it difficult to imagine what I'm in for, but you brought it a little closer. Thanks for posting pictures and your experiences!

Rebeccah, Sweden

joy_in_palestine said...

I am so glad to hear that! I'm sure that you'll love PFTA. If you have extra time and want to see the opposite tip of the West Bank, come and visit At-Tuwani! Have a lovely trip.