Al Battuf Valley lies in the lower Galilee and is a beautiful and important cultural agricultural area, bordering the villages of Sakhnin, Arrabeh, and Kufr Manda. The Israeli national water carrier, which cuts through the heart of the valley, is a controversial and environmentally destructive project. It was installed by Israel in the 1950s to divert the waters of Lake Tiberias through channels and pipelines to reach the Naqab and provide water for the Israeli towns and villages there. Ironically, the Palestinian farmers of Al Battuf Valley are not allowed to use any of the millions of cubic meters of water that flow through their lands every day. It is highly protected by barbed wire fences. Without a drainage system, which the Israeli government refuses to construct, the valley is totally submerged by water in the winter, turning it into a lake of standing water.
Therefore, agriculture is still entirely baʿali (rain-fed) and is dependent on seasonal vegetables. Chemical use of fertilizers and herbicides is very limited, making the produce organic, baladi, and therefore very tasty. Today, there are a handful of active farmers working the land and making sure they collectively develop agricultural roads, work in cooperation with each other and fight together to attain their rights. Women farmers have led a decades-long presence on the land, preserving local varieties of bamieh (okra), sesame, watermelon and many more seasonal crops. Al Battuf represents one of the last remaining valleys inside ‘48 areas (Israel) where Palestinian own and grow agricultural produce on the land. Following 1948, a big rupture occurred for Palestinians inside Israel, where most of their land was confiscated and they were forced to turn to labour, abandoning the lands that were left in their villages. It can be rightly claimed that women pioneered the protection of land since then, ensuring to keep farming alive and with that preserving traditional farming methods, crops and rituals. Utra Yassin is one of those women farmers who have been actively farming their land in Al Battuf. She, along with strong and passionate women and their families, are spearheading strong presence on the land, defying the Israeli government’s intentions to turn the valley into a nature reserve, or promote local ecotourism initatives which aim to normalise the encroachment of exclusively Jewish settlements in the Galilee.
The spring season is said to be the high season for being in Al Battuf Valley, where families gather for picnics and farmers markets and the valley as a whole become bustling with people in a symbolic community celebration of abundance and identity. To meet Utra and other inspiring women and men in Al Battuf, make a visit to this lush valley in May to enjoy a truly warm and welcoming hospitality and beautiful landscape. Palestinian farmers’ stories everywhere are stories of resilience, steadfastness, and determination. Our support for them and their struggle makes a difference and preserves the cultural significance of our natural resources.
Product Availability: Seasonal - spring and summer
Product Selling Points: Al Battuf Valley
Volunteering Opportunities: Help during harvest season, prior coordination is advised.