Welcome to Olive & Heart.
I launched this shop after a visit to a social enterprise in Palestine called Canaan Fair Trade.
Though I was born and raised in California, my family is from the Palestinian village of Silwan in East Jerusalem. Growing up I would hear stories from my mom and aunts about harvesting olives at peak season, explaining how the limited supply of seasons informed meals, and methods of preserving and pickling foods now readily available in local and specialty markets. And so, when I had the opportunity to visit Palestine during the annual olive harvest with farm families throughout the West Bank, I jumped at the chance to get a glimpse into what was once a typical part of life for my family.
Before this shop, I had completed a bachelors degree in History, with a minor in Middle East Studies. After graduating, I worked for various non-profit organizations amplifying Palestinian voices in media, fundraising for humanitarian relief in the Middle East, and promoting environmental sustainability. Like many Palestinians living in diaspora, I volunteered for and attended countless events to support relief efforts for children and families in Palestine, which isn’t an experience particularly unique to me but a fact built into the hyphenated experience. These small community events showcased carefully crafted products made by local Palestinian women, farmers and artisans — such events were often the only market for these products. When I entered the professional nonprofit space, not a lot had changed.
Until recently, Palestine could not be found in the fair trade space among other countries seeking to overcome fraught local economies. Let me put it this way, before Canaan Fair Trade introduced a fair trade model of producing and selling olive oil, there was no such thing as fair trade olive oil in the world. To this day, Palestinian olive oil is the only fairly traded olive oil available, with good reason as politics unavoidably factors into why these farmers did not have access to a global market.
Before farm-to-table became trendy in the restaurant scene, living off the land was, and in many places, continues to be a way of life.
What does this all have to do with a shop? Well, I returned with gifts in hand of the premium quality, beautifully bottled olive oil.
My friends responded with comments like, “I didn’t know that olive oil could taste like that.” I felt these fair trade products belong on a shelf near any other premium, organic product.
For me, this shop and the space it occupies among impact-minded, “lifestyle” brands is constantly evolving – finding ways to integrate other social enterprises and to infuse my own product and design ideas. What remains is an unending desire to make the gifting process as inclusive, easily accessible and warm as the families who welcomed me into their homes during my brief time in Palestine. I continue to remember them with every olive that is pressed and every moment passed.