A Harvest for Peace in Israel

Sindyanna of Galilee promotes collaboration between Arabs and Jews to develop the fair trade olive sector.

Photo: Yoram Ron
By Alexis Kerner
Nov. 10, 2016 13:04 UTC
Photo: Yoram Ron

Sindyanna of Galilee brings Arab-Palestinian and Jewish women together to pro­duce fair trade prod­ucts such as their Za’atar olive oil, almonds and soaps. Hadas Lahav told Olive Oil Times the sales aim to strengthen the Arab-Palestinian econ­omy and fund edu­ca­tional pro­grams.

The non-profit, run by all women, pro­motes busi­ness for peace” as well as fair trade in Israel. The team has already worked to trans­form large swaths of uncul­ti­vated land into flour­ish­ing olive groves. This has helped to fur­ther develop the olive indus­try among Arab farm­ers by assist­ing them in mod­ern­iz­ing their land with sus­tain­able cul­ti­va­tion meth­ods and advanced tech­niques and irri­ga­tion.

Around the same time as the fall olive har­vest Jews cel­e­brate Sukkot, a fes­tiv­ity that com­mem­o­rates the season´s har­vest and those who reap it. The Sindyanna team was prepar­ing to host an activ­ity dur­ing the hol­i­day that would bring vol­un­teers from all over Israel together.

This year the event took place in the Scottish Grove that has been devel­oped through a part­ner­ship with the landown­ers (the Abu Hatum fam­ily from Yafi’a) and the Church of Scotland. Volunteers not only were pick­ing olives, they were help­ing to carry out a study.

The vari­eties har­vested dur­ing the event were planted as test plots by the Agricultural Research Organization at the Volcani Center. Yair Manni, an engi­neer from the Fruit Tree Sciences Department at ARO, is direct­ing the work.

Manni explained, some of the trees were planted in this grove to inves­ti­gate how the par­tic­u­lar species behave in terms of yield and oil con­tent in that spe­cific geo­graphic area and under con­ven­tional agri­cul­tural con­di­tions.” He went on to describe one plot where they had planted a vari­ety that had already been patented called Kadishon. This vari­ety has espe­cially large fruit and is suit­able for eat­ing.”

The vari­eties were har­vested sep­a­rately so that experts could study the unique char­ac­ter­is­tics of each vari­ety once their oil had been extracted at the Al-Sahel olive press in Dir Hana.

Yoram Ron

Tamar Belkin, a high-tech mar­ket­ing expert from Tel Aviv and a long­time friend of Sindyanna of Galilee par­tic­i­pated in this year´s har­vest along with 50 other vol­un­teers. She sum­ma­rized her expe­ri­ence in the event:

For the sec­ond year in a row, my 10-year-old son and I par­tic­i­pated in the annual Sindyanna of Galilee vol­un­teer har­vest. Last year it was held at the Oasis Olive Grove that is located in Wadi Ara, and this year at the Scottish Grove near Nazareth.

The day started early with friends of Sindyanna — chil­dren, par­ents and grand­par­ents — dri­ving in from all over Israel. We laid out nets under the trees, took up our rakes and started har­vest­ing in the clear Galilean air. After a few hours of hard work with our pleas­ant co-work­ers, we ate a lovely home­made lunch and even got the chance to pickle a batch of olives that we could take home with us.

With Arab and Jewish vol­un­teers work­ing together to pick fresh olives from the over­flow­ing trees under a beau­ti­ful blue sky it was a unique expe­ri­ence for us — both as city folks doing phys­i­cal work out in the coun­try­side and, more impor­tantly, as Jews labor­ing side by side with our Arab neigh­bors. Unfortunately, most chil­dren these days, even more so than their par­ents, don’t typ­i­cally get much expo­sure to either so it was espe­cially impor­tant to me that my son par­tic­i­pate.

While we were both exhausted at the end of the day, we both found our expe­ri­ence very enjoy­able and ful­fill­ing, and already look for­ward to next year’s har­vest.”

Sindyanna has been in the Israeli mar­kets for decades but has finally made its way this year to the shelves of American mar­kets.


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