We are one of Palestine's only eco parks and a pioneer in environmental education for our local community and their global eco-conscious partners.
We began in 2013 by purchasing 10 dunnams (1 hectare) of land outside of Ramallah city, in Area C of the West Bank. This is not an easy task, as Palestine has been suffering for decades under the crushing limitations of Israel's illegal military occupation. Though we own our land, we are not allowed to build on it or to properly nourish our flora without the risk of demolition or even imprisonment. Every day we are present on our land is an act of what we call "sumud"...resilience!
Therefore, as an act of community ecological activism against our unjust limitations, we have for the last three years gathered around our sacred land and built together a thriving and ever-growing safe space for learning. Our philosophy begins with relearning what has been lost and regaining what has been stolen--the names of the trees and plants in their original Arabic and Latin, the function of stone terraces, the precious lifeblood of the olive tree.
On top of it all, we are also a registered non-profit! After collecting enthusiastic stewards of all ages and backgrounds at our land has come the community responsibility, and that has included integrating our literature into local school curricula, outreach to refugee families and those in the Diaspora in order to reinforce their vital placement in our nation, and printing various wildlife textbooks and guides.
Despite the volatility which comes with living under a foreign power's colonial rule, we have tried our best to ensure that our eco park is a reliable arena of positive growth and a wellspring of ideas and energy.
Whatever your level of experience laboring on farms, gardening, or even basic grass cutting, we welcome a healthy spirit who is ready to learn and contribute to the eternal flourishing of our place of trees and people.
Entretien / Bricolage
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Imagine living in the Mediterranean-hugged heartland of Palestine's rolling, sunny hills and olive groves. Though you are centralized in our rural park near the peaceful Ein Qinya village, you are still a ten minute car ride away from Ramallah's thriving city center.
We anticipate based upon past volunteers' jubilant feedback that your own experience will be life-altering. Working with Saleh and Morgan, the kinetically energetic directors, has always led to a volleying of ideas with multiple voices as to how Palestinian ecology can be secured and enriched. You will also view a very particular corner of life under occupation and how it affects even a simple act such as planting seeds or access to one's land.
Palestine's heritage is wrapped around its land, and the "falah" is the farmer of old and new. There are ubiquitous stories to tell about each tree, stone, or patch of land, and we have documented as much as we can and continue to compile cultural stories which root us to our homeland. After all, Juthour means "roots" --both of the tree and culturally.
We are looking for people to basically caretake the land while living wild. Daytime labor will range from moving stones, tilling soil, to watering trees, data collection, maintaining paths, fertilizing, harvesting...it depends on your skill set and determinism!
Our eco park is up on a mountaintop (ok, we're being overly romantic--it's a pretty steep hilltop) but you must be prepared for a pretty heart-strengthening 15 minute or so hike most days up to the site...Morgan does it often with her 9-month-old son Kamae wrapped to her!
If you have a driver's license, that's a plus (but not required at all)! We have a pickup truck and sometimes our three dogs need a ride up the mountain too!
Tippis!!! Yep, teepees. They were made from bamboo sticks and canvas and they can fit up to 6 people comfortably, there are foam mattresses and blankets included and a fire pit in the middle, of course! We also built a green washroom which includes a dry compost outhouse and a built-in solar shower!
Additionally, we have what one could call a "rough kitchen" --an outdoor area with pots and pans and a washing station. We supply you with foodstuff for daily meals! Not only will your meals be pretty much all Palestinian food but we'll teach you how to live on the land like a Palestinian; that includes the time-immemorial "zareb" way of cooking (baking your meal underground), as well as how to bake "khubez" (what you probably call "pita" yet still different, traditional Arabic bread) on the stone oven!
Additionally, we also own a very popular bar/restaurant in downtown Ramallah and as a Workaway volunteer you get a DISCOUNT on your meals from there--most of the plates are made with vegetables and fruit from our own urban garden! We also have a rooftop garden above the restaurant and you're welcome to help us maintain it in exchange for some kale or lettuce to take with you.
If you're here from late spring until early winter the weather at the mountain is pretty warm (in summer it can be boiling, but zero humidity!), but at night the temperature drops and is perfect for bonfire-ing. Not to worry--when the clouds clear you can see the sea from our mountaintop! Bottom line: bring layered clothing.
Oh, and we have caves that are great for chilling out in when you want a consistent temperature and dry space!
Ramallah is in the center of the country, maximum four hours away (as the crow flies) from the furthest point possible of the Holy Land. Though surrounded by Israeli military checkpoints and an enormous wall which restrict Palestinians from traveling, the West Bank is permeable into other cities (Jerusalem, Haifa, Nazareth) if you carry a foreign passport.
Saleh, the co-founder, is a Ramallah native. Besides basically being a breathing tree and plant glossary on legs, he and his wife/co-founder Morgan can definitely help you to get on the proper bus and guide you to other Palestinian-owned bars, restaurants, and even environmental organizations/eco-projects throughout the land!
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