Read about our wonderful farmers and cooperatives below. We always pass reviews onto our farmers so please let us know how much you love our products as our framers feel very proud to know their products are eaten and used all over the world!
“My land is my home and the olive tree is my friend!”
In a small farming community called Jeet where everyone farms olives, is Mohammad, one of our farmers, producing exceptional extra virgin olive oil year after year. Jeet is a beautiful place with sloping terraces and meandering hills with views down over Nablus. On these hills are Mohammad’s Al Rumi olive trees which are named that because they were brought to Palestine by the Romans in ancient times and they are still producing harvest after harvest of delicious olives today. Mohammad loves the harvest season which takes place between October and December as it brings the whole family and community together to work together, sing songs together and eat together.
Mohammah has been able to support his family and send his children to school due to our partnership and he says; ‘To describe my relationship with Al Ard, I would say it is a true example of loyalty and devotion. Our relationship started seven years ago and it is still going strong today’.
Mohammad is proud of his land and how well he tends to his olives, the link that Palestinians have to their land is clear in his eyes when he says ‘I will continue planting my olive trees for my children, and grandchildren after me. I belong to this land and they do as well!’
‘I believe in cooperative work, I see it as a way to reduce unemployment rate, to support young farmers and producers’
Rehbi is one of our farmers and also a founding member of his local olive oil cooperative in a small village near Ramallah. He is incredibly passionate about fair trade and cooperative standards and has seen his local cooperative grow from a tiny meeting of eight farmers to a large organization supporting hundreds and investing in their future and the future of olive farming in Palestine. He knows that the cooperatives role of providing farmers with facilities, negotiating fair prices and uniting a fragmented farming system is essential and that working together is the key to their success. This entire village is happier and better off with Rehbi and other farmers like him supporting them and working with Al Ard.
‘The only place I am truly happy is under my olive trees with my family’
This is Othman with his seventh child of eight, Hala. She doesn’t know it yet, but she is born into a proud legacy of olive farming. Othman lives in Jeet village, a picturesque hilltop village with green olive tree covered slopes stretching away from it into the distance covered with flowers beneath eth trees each spring. Othman has been partnering with Al Ard for 15 years selling top quality olive oil and being supported by the company. Othman is very positive about the future and his partnership with Al Ard means that not only has he been able to send his children to university, but he is also buying land to expand his farm. He says: ‘I feel indescribably proud that Palestinian olive oil- my olive oil, the olives which belonged to my father and grandfather- are on the shelves in America and Europe. Because it is mine and because it is the best in the world’
“Today people know me as Ibtisam, a strong woman not as a wife and mother,” says Ibtisam who prides herself on becoming financially and socially independent through making Maftoul at the Dura Women’s Cooperative. Maftoul is a Palestinian dish that consists of tiny wheat balls. It is carefully hand-rolled by Palestinian women by adding small amounts of water to tiny dried crushed wheat and slowly adding fresh wheat flour.
Ibtisam began her career making Maftoul in 2005. She notes that at the beginning her journey the work wasn’t that lucrative. She adds that the Cooperative started out making 25 kilos of Maftoul, which gradually increased over time. Today they produce an astounding 250 kilos a day!
Ibtisam managed to lead this work while being a mother of nine children. She says her family now looks up to her and sees her as a productive working woman that they admire. She is grateful that she can actively contribute to household expenses and society at-large.
‘Try, if you fail try again and keep trying until you finally do it’
Nabila lives in Beita a picturesque hilltop village in the northern West Bank. She is a founding member of the Beita Women’s Cooperative, which she started after learning to make olive oil soap and then teaching her friends. She helped to revive this once flourishing and ancient tradition of soap making in the Nablus region which has in recent times become been replaced my modern soap making. Nabila faced lots of challenges in setting up the soap-making business and the cooperative, the primary one being attitudes to women working. Her family were initially not supportive and she has found this the main issue stopping other women from joining. However, she now says that ‘my husband is now my main supporter, encouraging me and even helping me by making our molds as he is a carpenter’. She continues, ‘The support from Al Ard has helped other women come on board as they can see we are a real business and we are making a good living’.
In Palestine, we believe that big things always have small beginnings and in Huda’s case, that has certainly been true. She started making maftoul as a child with her mother and she grew up her skill was so well known that extended family and neighbours would ask her to make it for them. So Huda was delighted to learn that she could make a living out of her skills in the kitchen if she joined a cooperative. Maftoul used to be made in every kitchen, but it is now a dying artisanal skill slowly being brought back to live by these cooperatives who still rely on their grandmother’s knowledge and teachings. Huda loves working with other women at the cooperative and having a social life outside of her home, and she also enjoys helping her husband financially support their ten children. ‘it is my mission to keep the Maftoul tradition alive and to ensure that women have a fair say and opportunities and with help from the cooperative and Al Ard, I know I will do exactly that!’