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February 9, 2012

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Dear friends,

There have been roadblocks.

There have been checkpoints.

There have been delays, sore muscles, hills, asphalt, dirt, more hills, sidewalks, traffic, even more hills, armed authorities in uniform, & one very large brick wall.

There has been a Run Across Palestine!

Check out the latest "People and The Olive" video of day 4 and 5... you can see and feel the power and emotion and pain and joy from the last two days!

At the end of their final day of running, the team arrived in Jenin at the Canaan Fair Trade headquarters, which are near the Palestinian Fair Trade Association’s main offices as well.

Canaan is where all the farmers bring their olives to be processed, so not only is it an appropriate place for the runners to finish their journey, it’s also the ideal spot for a celebration & gathering of the whole RAP team & our supporters. RAP culminated in singing, dancing, music, feasting, tears, & joy. Nasser tells us RAP is the biggest grassroots support event Palestine has ever had from another country. What an honor to be a part of it! The whole country, north to south, is celebrating & supporting this project.

"We each were dedicated a 200-year-old tree behind the building. Each tree has a unique shape, just like each of our unique roles to this team. Having finished an ultramarathon & having spent a week of intense cultural and physical perseverance, it was a very emotional moment for everyone." --Aubrey Ann Parker

We also want to give a huge shout out to Nasser Abufarha, who has made all of this possible: not only the Run itself, but the opportunity to bring life to these farmers through fair trade & cooperatives.

This relationship began because we consume their olive oil.

Their olive oil made it to us because fair trade opened up an international market for them.

How has fair trade changed the lives of these farming communities since its introduction in 2004?

Nasser found out about fair trade coffee in the early 2000's & thought, "This is what my people need!" He brought this idea back to Palestine & founded the PFTA with 12 farmers. Before there was this fair trade & cooperatives, individual families sold thier oil only at local markets--where they made less money per bottle (8 shekels) than it cost to produce it (12 shekels). When Canaan started, they began to buy at 15 shekels/bottle, then by 2009 they were buying at 22. What a huge difference!

Canaan works with 43 different farmer coops (1700 farmers), including six women’s coops. They spread the word starting in 2004 through workshops, educating the farmers about fair trade, talking about quality, organic, cooperatives, & certifications. Everyone was on board. But olive oil was not a fair trade certifiable item at that time, so Canaan drafted the standards for the oil, which were adapted by FLO (the international fair trade labeling organization), & here we are! Today, Canaan's farmers make a fair wage, work together, farm organically, & connect with the world through the exchange of goods.

You can continue to support these farmers by making a donation to RAP here & by buying their amazing goods: couscous, tahini, olives, honey, tapenade & so many more tasty delicacies.

Check out today’s video installment from The People and the Olive, & raise your glasses (coffee, tea, orange juice, beer, wine, whatever) with us as we toast the incredible efforts of the whole RAP team. We’re so excited to welcome them back home & hear even more stories of their adventure.

SAVE THE DATE for a Traverse City, MI welcome home party of stories, film, music, food & community, Wednesday February 29th. More details to come!


Jennifer & the whole On the Ground crew

Our mailing address is:
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