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Home » News

Zaytoun CIC celebrates its 10th olive harvest in Palestine!

Submitted by on December 11, 2014 – 2:21 pmNo Comment

What is Zaytoun?

zaytoun-logo-on-purpleZaytoun is a UK Community Interest Company selling fairly traded Palestinian produce. It started as a volunteer initiative and introduced ‘Produce of Palestine’ to UK retail shelves. It now sells to delicatessens, wholefood and fair trade shops, as well as to a network of passionate individuals. These sales support thousands of farming families and offer a rich narrative about the Palestinian people that goes far beyond the media-weary images of conflict or victimhood.

Zaytoun’s artisanal produce:

  • Organic hand rolled, sun-dried maftoul (giant couscous)
  • Jericho’s Medjoul Dates
  • Speciality almonds including caramalised almonds
  • Freekeh – a smokey green wheat
  • Olive oil soap

Available from Suma and independent retailers around the UK and Republic of Ireland, as well as online and through a nationwide network of Fairtrade and Palestinian activists.

Zaytoun 10th Birthday:

Zaytoun CIC has come a long way in 10 years.  A social enterprise, it was set up by a group of friends after they had visited Palestine to live and work alongside Palestinian communities in the West Bank. Having tasted the unique olive oil during harvest time, they wanted to help Palestinian farmers find a route to market their products and so came home with a mission to sell their products in the UK. Over time the Zaytoun team has done something extraordinary – it has created a market in the UK for one of the world’s oldest artisanal traditions, and in doing so supports the livelihoods of thousands of Palestinian farmers.

A Zaytoun customer helping to pick the olives in Palestine

A Zaytoun customer helping to pick the olives in Palestine

Each year, at picking time, a group of Zaytoun customers travel to Palestine to support the farmers during the olive harvest. This year, despite the current crisis in Palestine, 18 customers joined the farmers.  For Jane, from Nottingham, it was her third time as a witness to the harvest.  She says: “Houses have been ransacked, children and young people arrested, over 1000 olive trees destroyed and generally people are very traumatised. People ask why do I go back there now? For me there is one simple answer, I cannot bottle out when things get difficult. If walking alongside Palestinians means anything, it means being alongside them when they most need support and need to know that people actually care. I do not look forward to incursions from settlers and army, because I know that it will make me very angry and the injustice will be right in front of my face. However, we also know that it will be for the farmers and families to deal with them and for us to continue to pick olives and monitor what is happening.”

Sharing a meal in the shade after a morning in the sun picking olives.

Sharing a meal in the shade after a morning in the sun picking olives.

Despite the conflict, the harvest is still celebrated with dancing and the sharing of good food.

To help celebrate the 10th harvest, Nasser Abufarha  from the Canaan Fair Trade and the Palestinian Fair Trade Association which work closely with Zaytoun, has shared this recipe for a delicious Maftoul salad which uses the olive oil and  za’atar.

Maftoul salad shared by Nasser Abufarha for Zaytoun’s 10th anniversary

Nasser is the founder of Canaan Fair Trade and the Palestinian Fair Trade Association, both of these ground breaking organisations are also celebrating their 10th anniversaries this year.


Light, fluffy, and delicious! This delectable salad recipe is highly nutritious and ideal as a healthy vegetarian lunch, a starter, or accompaniment to a meat or vegetable main dish. Can be served warm or cold.


Serves 4 as a side dish

  • 250g Zaytoun maftoul
  • 5 tbsp Zaytoun olive oil
  • 75g raisins
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 small bunch spring
  • Onions sliced thinly
  • 1 small bunch parsley
  • 1 fresh chilli pepper,
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp Zaytoun za’atar


To make the salad

  1. Add 1 tbsp salt to 1 litre of water and bring to the boil.
  2. Toast maftoul in 2 tablespoons of olive oil for 4 minutes on medium-high heat.
  3. Add toasted maftoul to the boiling water and let it simmer for 12 minutes.
  4. At the same time add 250ml hot water to the raisins and simmer in a pot for 10 minutes. Allow to cool then drain.
  5. Sauté onions in 1 tbsp of olive oil, and set aside to cool.
  6. In a large bowl, combine the maftoul, raisins, both kinds of onions, parsley, chilli, za’atar, lemon juice, and 2 tbsp olive oil and mix, seasoning

Suma would like to wish everyone at Zaytoun a happy 10th birthday. It’s been a pleasure working with you and helping to support Palestinian farmers and growers.

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