“Nothing goes to waste on our farm,” says Amir Qudaih. “We compost and reuse everything.” Gaza’s continual scarcity of resources, overall insecurity, and famine force farmers to use everything at their disposal. Each and every product of the land can return to the ground and regenerate it with nutrients. Indeed, the farmers’ compost pile is an essential part of their organic food production.
The Qudaih family’s compost pile
In general, ongoing war and the lack of access to resources that comes with it require farmers to be extremely resourceful. They grow their own food in greenhouses, in the field, and in domestic gardens, with each space dedicated to different crops. Their wheat fields produce enough wheat for bread, commerce, and animal feed, and what’s left they designate as compost. Date trees, olive trees, citrus trees, prune trees, peach trees, and grape vines are all scattered around the house together with sabra groves. Sheep provide milk, cheese, and wool for carpets, blankets, and pillow fillings. Chickens provide eggs and meat, and pigeons are eaten as well.
Water is mostly extracted from the subterranean aquifer through a well, and irrigation is otherwise dependent on rainwater harvesting. “We have very little water to do anything but irrigate the land, drink, and cook,” says Amir.
Rainwater harvesting at the Qudaih family farm
“We once had an old orange tree in the village that was sick. We cut its trunk such that we could plant a new lemon tree inside of it. It is not an easy process, but it is possible. We now have an orange-lemon tree mix.”