We finally have a proper CSA – community supported agriculture – farm in the Ramallah area. All my produce needs will be ready for me to pick up every Monday evening. I will no longer have to squeeze through the crowded and narrow aisles in the hisbeh (market) eyeballing the produce and the salespeople, questioning the source of the produce and the method of production. The salespeople at the hisbeh are not the farmers. They are far removed from the actual production of their goods. The Palestinian consumer has become disconnected from the production as well. Produce is brought to our market and sold to us. Some of it is seasonal. Much of it is not. It is estimated that 90% of the produce in the hisbeh is Israeli; leftovers that the Israeli market system could not get rid of. Many of the sales guys operating wagons and small stands urge me to buy their products. BUT I don’t purchase Israeli produce. Then they show me Palestinian produce. BUT I don’t purchase nonseasonal produce. Nor do I purchase Palestinian produce coming from the Jenin and Jericho regions – have you ever seen how much chemical pesticides are doused on the vegetables growing in those districts? I am difficult to please, the vegetable cart/stand operators say to me.
Now that Om Sleiman farm is in operation, I will no longer need to deal with the hisbeh. The Om Sleiman farmers – Mohamad and Muhab- will produce nutritious and seasonal vegetables in an organic and environmentally friendly way. They will bring each week’s harvest to the city center in Ramallah so that the members can pick up their produce on their way home from work. I picked up the first week’s harvest last Monday. It consisted of the typical early in the season leafy greens – Tat Soi (a first time for me), Swiss Chard, Kale, and Basil. Both farmers as well as a couple of the volunteers were present at the pick up site explaining to all of us members the details of the products and the production methods and providing us with recipe tips. Although it was only the first week, I felt community. The Om Sleiman farm created a community. Food production is more than an economic activity – it is culture and heritage and nature and environment and health and community.
I am planning on stuffing the kale with meat and bulgur, and cooking the swiss chard in an eggy and cheesy savory tart. Those projects are for later in the week. But tonight, I needed a quick easy meal to nourish and savor. I used the basil to make a spicy pesto for my dinner tonight.
1 bunch of fresh basil
2 jalapeño peppers
1/2 cup raw walnuts
1 cup fresh goat cheese (I used local cheese from Ameen’s farm in Albireh)
Salt to taste
Place all the ingredients in a food processor and mix/grind into a paste. Add the pesto to pasta or toast.