The “Land Residency” Project
In this project, the center works on attracting a new group of participants to become part of the center’s fabric, orientation, and daily life for a period of four seasons. It also targets a group of participants that are able to conduct activities and implement public programs related to other programs and partnerships of the center. Such as Souq Adel and Sakiya consisting of agricultural activists working in the cultural and artistic scene through a project that examines the cultural and agricultural practices that seek to create a wider scope of an audience in relation to the questions asked.
Since its launch in 2018, the “Land Residency” project examines the cultural role of the land, starting with a set of questions that begin with: how can the land be approached critically with the economic, spatial, and political variables taking place in the region; in light of the disappearances of green areas as a result of the occupation, urbanization, and creep of construction? How can agricultural practices be embodied as cultural ones? And what should be done in order to broaden our understanding of artistic practices so it would include the land?
During March and April of 2018, the center has started working with the “Manjala” (Sickle) initiative. During the preparatory period, a plan of action linking agricultural activities with seasons was built; where the “Manjala” initiative inspected the land and examined the mechanisms necessary to work in it, and identified what are the technical and agricultural needs and tools necessary to implement the work plan.
In the first public meeting on 28\04\2018; the “Manjala” initiative was introduced explaining its interactive role for those interested in becoming part of the “Land Residency” project at Khalil Sakakini Center’s garden. And so, it began with establishing the necessary mechanisms to develop the community garden, and this was followed with a discussion over the suggested activities to take place for the current year in accordance with agricultural seasons. The group and its audience also planted some seedlings for the summer season in the community garden, which was intended to make the public an effective part of the garden.
The project’s activities:
In 2018, the “Manjala” initiative carried out various activities with different age groups and community backgrounds. In May, workshops were held with children, like “Let’s plant, let’s harvest” workshop which focused on integrating agricultural and educational games between children and their parents. In addition to conducting meetings on how to identify and discuss the concept of sovereignty over food. In June, a symposium titled “Life between Illusion and Understanding” was conducted by Munir Fasheh, who discussed the concept of education and linked it to concepts of development at different levels.
The months of July and August 2018 carried out a research and consultation phase where environmentalists from consumers, producers, activists, women growing in their house gardens, supporters of environmental agriculture, and academics were networked and brought together with the aim of making the Palestine Agriculture Forum the big umbrella bringing together all of the formerly mentioned, and make it a destination as well.
In August, the work followed through with selecting the main activity of the project, where “Water Harvesting” was chosen. The following September, during a roundtable discussion, the activity was further discussed and explained, including exploring mechanisms for water harvesting and its geographical and geological considerations. The idea comes as part of reprogramming and addressing the water issue, in cooperation with nature and water specialists, academics, geographers, and most importantly, the farmers themselves, specifically in the practical application phase. The Noubani farms were chosen to be the place of practical application of the activity, in order to collect the water and revive the dry springs.
During the period of September until November 2018, the project conducted several meetings and planning workshops for water harvesting. This was supported by bringing aerial photographs and identifying contour lines in the target area in preparation for practical application (the Noubani farms). In addition to identifying some techniques of water and rain harvesting, where the first steps of implementing the project were through using simple techniques to save water in the soil in order to revive some of the springs in the Noubani farms area. By the end of November 2018, a research field visit was organized where the main target group were some geologists, geographers, engineers and farmers from the Noubani farms.
The end of 2018 was full of energy and activities, Umm Sulaiman Farm was modeled as an alternative to external and institutional support; which was based on the economic and social basis of community-based agriculture.
The idea and experience spanned over three years of practical and cognitive accumulation intertwined with the society funding the project, where subsequently it transferred to activities by digging dams and preparing several areas in the target land for water harvesting in preparation for the initial practical application, but the first plan was postponed (overnight stay and work over the course of two days) – as a result of the political situation that prevailed at the time – to another date where work on building and placing some dams in the main water way will take place.
This project comes as part of the financial grant received to the center from the Open Society Foundation.