One cup of this super-food contains only 33 calories and zero grams of fat, 206% of Vitamin A, 684% of Vitamin K, 134% of Vitamin C, more calcium than a container of milk, more iron than beef, contains fiber, folic acid, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties. Nutritionists are calling it the Kale-Craze, and rightly so, it’s well deserved. Inspired by its tremendous benefits, this is how ‘The Kale Project’ was initiated between Refutrees and MAAN Development Center in Palestine.
With two key concerns around the Palestinian agricultural landscape, Refutrees and MAAN Development Center noticed: a lack of crop-diversity in the Palestinian context; and an identified need to improve community health and nutrition. Using organic non-GMO seeds, they carefully worked with a local nursery to produce seedlings along with an agricultural engineer and farm manager at MAAN’s Permaculture Farm in Bet Qad, Jenin; within 6 weeks they had produced green, fresh and organic Kale for the first time in the West Bank. Project Manager, Wahbeh Asfour at the MAAN Development Center tells Baraka Bits: “The Palestinian agricultural landscape has witnessed several shifts in the past four decades. Small-scale farmers in particular are feeling the burden of occupation related restrictions, in additions to the larger challenges posed by the lack of direct investment in building local capacities and livelihoods. The Kale project seeks to respond to these conditions through MAAN’s Permaculture Center.”
Founder and board director of Refutrees, Lamya Hussain, explains, “The research, planning and implementation has proven the necessity of investing in crop-diversity, reviving organic production techniques and the merit of working with small-scale farmers in the Palestinian territories.”
Local Palestinian residents are beginning to take a hold of this new leafy green, “The Kale project came in the right time from one hand, where the boycott campaigns are gaining more support internally to challenge the vegetable and fruit markets flooded with Israeli poor quality goods. The Kale project is 100% Palestinian providing high quality products,” said Marwa Yousef, an NGO worker and resident in Ramallah.
Most recently on social media, Refutrees is asking local Palestinians to integrate ‘kale’ into their traditional Palestinian dishes, to find ways to use kale in local every day cooking. By working with local businesses and restaurants, they have started to develop a greater awareness on health and nutrition.
The Kale project is currently in the second phase, planning a number of trainings with female farming communities in the West Bank and additional sessions for West Bank small scale farmers.