October 2018 – February 2019
My name is Najla and I was one of five trainees participating in the training program organized last season by Om Sleiman Farm and supported by Dalia Association. The training was based on teaching the concepts of sustainable farming and the model of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).
In recent years, I have become more aware on concepts of sustainability, environmental consciousness, and clean eating. In addition to that, throughout time I have developed different ideas in mind linked to greening city spaces and urban farming, that I would like to make real. In tandem, I came across the opportunity of the training course on CSA offered at Om Sleiman. Having had no prior background in agriculture or anything related to the field, I saw the training as a perfect starting point and a great way of expanding my knowledge, to help me in the realization of my aspirations.
Om Sleiman Farm is based on a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model and agroecology, aiming to minimize its environmental impacts and engage in chemical-free farming practices. The training was built on teaching the practices and concepts of CSA, which strives to create a direct relationship between the farmer and consumer, eliminating any potential parties in the middle. The model promotes principles of co-creation and shared economy, where customers are not seen as customers, but rather as “members” of the farm. The model entails that members subscribe to receiving harvest of seasonal and fresh produce on a weekly basis, at the same time they support the farmer by sharing the risks of farming, such as crop failure.
The 18-week training lasted over a whole season, where we trainees got the chance to engage in the different practices of the farm, from preparing beds and planting, to harvesting and distributing weekly harvest shares to members. Throughout different periods, every trainee got the chance to take on different responsibilities related in the farm. Responsibilities went in rotation, with the roles changing every other week. These responsibilities included farm management, marketing and member coordination, composting, irrigation, as well as sprouting and seed management. This gave us a very practical hands-on experience.
Apart from the practical aspect, the training included elements of theory covering different concepts and practices related to agriculture. The teaching method was a collaborative one, where space was given for open discussions and sharing of knowledge. Everyone was encouraged to pitch in with individual experiences and own knowledge within the field, a great way for everyone to be a part of this two-way teaching and learning process.
Field visits were also part of the training. These were especially valuable as we got the chance to see other initiatives and people working within the field, giving us exposure on a wider scope. Workshops were also a fun addition. Several workshops on different topics were covered, such as crop planning and fermentation workshops.
In these ways, the training was wholesome in a sense that included different ways and modes of learning. It did not only focus on the theoretical and practical aspects of farming, it engaged and exposed us to the wider umbrella of the context of sustainable and conscious practices involving sustainable agriculture, environmental mindfulness, healthy eating, and food sovereignty.
The training was a beautiful experience for me. Not only did it expose me to a wide range of concepts within the world of sustainable agriculture, it allowed me to sense a connection with the land, the agricultural heritage of Palestine, and above all with my Palestinian identity. Most importantly, it has given me a wide set of values and knowledge that will help me to embark on a journey of greening the urban spaces of Palestine.