Bath Fairtrade stallholder harvesting olives to support Palestine
A supporter of the rights of Palestinian people has helped gather the raw material for the olive oil he sells in Bath.
Retired NHS finance official Roger Chapman visited the region late last year to find out more about its people's plight.
The 60-year-old from Weston helped with the olive harvest for a label which he sells at a Fairtrade stall at Weston Methodist Church.
Olive oil from Palestine is also on sale at the Sainsbury's store in Green Park.
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Mr Chapman said his interest in the politics of the Middle East was heightened after Israel's attack on Gaza, on Boxing Day 2008, when more than 1,200 Palestinians died.
He visited one man whose house was about to be encircled by a new wall constructed by the Israeli authorities.
Mr Chapman said it had been a pleasure to join a Palestinian family in harvesting their olive crop.
"Moving from tree to tree, we stroked the olives off each branch onto a tarpaulin spread on the ground. Then step ladders are brought so the olives on the higher branches can be harvested. In the heat of the day the family plied us with regular supplies of cold drinks and fresh fruit."
He and other visitors then joined the local community for an annual olive harvest festival featuring musicians, colourful dancers, olive oil tasting and enormous helpings of a pizza-sized flatbread with onions, almonds and spices, served with chicken.
The festival was held at the Canaan production facility of the Palestinian Fair Trade Association.
Before the PFTA was formed in 2004, many olive farmers had left their land due to restrictions on the movement and export of Palestinian products, and to the destruction of thousands of groves.
Mr Chapman said: "The association and its business partners abroad are now able to export marketable quantities of high quality olive oil. Shortly after my return to Bath, I was delighted to see that Palestinian olive oil, with the Canaan brand, is now on sale at Sainsbury's at Green Park."