“Our first priority is social impact. We want to amplify the stories of Palestinian farmers, creatives, and artisans. We are not doing anything,” insists Noor Mahmoud, founder of Homegrown, modestly. “We are just the medium.”
Olive trees in Palestine make up 45 per cent of cultivated land, according to a UN report released in 2006. Homegrown is the social enterprise that seeks out small-scale farmers cultivating those olive trees, and sources their produce in a bid to shed light on their stories, and in turn, help sustain their olive groves. In Palestine, the harvesting of olives is a tradition passed down through generations; one that is symbolic of community and heritage. The olive-picking season in Palestine, which extends from October to November, is a form of celebration that sees visitors, friends and family take part in the long-held tradition.
Launched in early November 2020, Homegrown’s mission is to tell the story behind the artisans whose skills are a testament to the strongholds of heritage.
“With Homegrown, it’s less about the product and more about the story. That’s what makes our products powerful,” explains Noor.
Working with a team of people spread across continents, the grassroots organisation seeks to bridge the gap between the Palestinian diaspora and their roots. It does so by creating a channel for these communities to reconnect with the artisans, artists, and tradesmen of their homeland.
“It’s not a one-woman show, I have an army of angels helping bring this dream to life,” reveals Noor of the team behind it all which includes Relations Partner, Rawan Kamal, Creative Partner, Jenin Irshaid and cooperative representative, Sameh Irman – all of whom play a substantial part. “We’ve also got someone on-ground in Palestine who connects us with the farmers in the villages and that’s how we source the olive oil.”
For the time being, Homegrown is only selling olives and olive oil, but the social enterprise is in the process of expanding its operations to include a plethora of other artisanal products.
“The question is, why aren’t we investing in one another? We want to show that it’s important to give back in a way that matters,” muses Noor. “So, sure, there are a million brands of olive oil, we all know that. But it’s more about who am I supporting? Is it the company who’s going to be able to sustain itself even if I don’t buy that one bottle of oil? Or would I rather spend on the small business where that one purchase will make all the difference?”
Support by ordering via Instagram DM at instagram.com/homegrownpalestine
Photos: Unsplash and supplied