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Israeli Arabs, Jews rally to save organic olive grove

Jews and Arabs together are battling Israeli authorities to save their fragile organic olive grove from electrical lines planned to pass over their lands to avoid military training zones.
A Palestinian touches freshly harvested olives after pouring them into a machine at an olive press in West Bank village of Idna, near Hebron October 14, 2012. Reuters/Ammar Awad (WEST BANK - Tags: AGRICULTURE FOOD) - RTR39584
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Thousands of tiny, hard, unripe green olives are hiding between the slender leaves of the olive trees in the joint Jewish-Arab “Oasis” grove in the Wadi Ara region. In 2014, four years after it was first planted, the orchard is expected to produce enough fruit to manufacture organic olive oil. With a little luck, it will enjoy the same success as another, similar orchard, known as the “Scottish Grove,” in the Jezreel Valley. That one was planted in late 2011, but the Jezreel Valley is blessed with good soil, while the land in Wadi Ara is harsh and unyielding. That is why the younger grove is already producing a crop while Oasis is still struggling.

Both orchards are agricultural projects operated by the nongovernmental organization Sindyanna of the Galilee Fair Trade Association. The group was created in 1996 with the goal of “promoting economic opportunities and places of employment for Arab women, while maintaining a commitment to the values of peace, equality and the welfare of everyone.” The group hopes that the oil from Wadi Ara will win international prizes, just like its younger Jezreel Valley counterpart, which has also been named Israel’s best boutique oil producer for two years running.

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