Jerusalem24 – For the Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center in Ramallah, community is a concept that can be stretched into infinite growth.
Its weekly farmers’ market, which has been held religiously every Sunday in summer for the past three years, is one of the ways through which the Center fulfils its stated function as a hub for communal life in Ramallah and beyond.
The market is more than a way to promote organic and handmade products, Sabine Saadeh, development and communication coordinator at Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center, tells Jerusalem24. It’s a way to extend the Sakakini community itself, as well as the city of Ramallah’s, by reaching out to new communities and people around.
“Enabling such spaces and platforms brings together those who are aspiring for alternative modes of consumption and production, and whose values are rooted in Palestinian communities’ growth from within,” explains Sabine.
All organic, all homemade
Khalil Sakakini aspires to showcase the very best of what local Palestinian production has to offer, specifically targeting local farmers whose produce is all organic, all homemade.
“Other than that criteria, it’s an open space for all of them. Of course we try to have a variety of products so there won’t be competition between the farmers themselves in the market, and to make sure that everyone has the space to promote their products.”
A typical Sunday will see offerings of Palestinian traditional herbs like zaatar and sumac; cucumber or tomato pickles; and a variety of freshly-harvested fruits and vegetables.
“We also have a woman who sells traditional clothes and embroidery.”
The center also schedules regular activities that accompany the market in order to integrate children and their families within the wider Sakakini community.
An alternative space for community work
The center fosters programs (including the farmers’ market) that are not only in the service of community, but also community-led.
“That’s what actually happened with the market,” says Sabine. “Farmers put their ideas, their input into the market itself, into the planning, into the organizing, into the workshops that accompany the market.”
The center also tries to use its space in an active rather than passive way, by making it available based on community-dictated needs.
“Most of our spaces are limited in Palestine. There are not so many spaces for farmers and locals to promote their products. So basically we try to make all of our spaces – not only the garden for the farmers’ market – but generally, we try to make our spaces open for the public for them to use in a way that they see is most suitable.”
“And through that, we try to promote an alternative space for community work.”
Visitors can find the farmers’ market at the Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center in Al-Masyoun, Ramallah, every Sunday from 1PM to 6PM until the end of October.
Listen to the full interview on Vibes.