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The Founder

“Olive oil is important for our food security and our cultural representation. It is a symbol of our identity. The trees connect us to our land, to the place, to the history, and to past generations. They also link us with future generations, to our children and grandchildren. They represent the continuity of a nation and our rootedness in the land.”

Nasser Abufarha


Nasser grew up in a farming family in rural Palestine. He was raised in a traditional farming family of 13 members. They mainly lived from the farm generating their own home stock of the main food stables from their farming activities. The wheat and the bread, the grains, the animal feed, their dairy needs of milk cheese, and yogurt, their eggs and chickens, their meats, their oils, honey, and vegetables all were generated from their own farms. As youngster, Nasser raised working on the farm with his siblings and taking on more of the farm responsibilities at young age as his siblings left for education or starting their own new families. 


In 2004, Nasser identified olive trees as a way of giving Palestinian farmers a sustainable living and a voice at the same time. To that end, he developed a strong network of producer, commercialization, and research organizations working hand in hand. The project created a route to markets and a tangible medium to international companies and individuals to engage in the sustainability of Palestinian livelihood. Success encouraged Palestinian farmers to invest more in their stewardship of the land further strengthening their bond with the land and its sustainability. 


“Giving a sustained future to people and agriculture in Palestine.” As his motto, Nasser deployed his passion to establish the “Canaan Project” which is a set up of four different organizations founded to economically and socially empower Palestinian farmers, including women producers, mainly through the promotion of organic farming and fair trade practices for main traditional Palestinian crops. 


Nasser holds a PhD in Cultural Anthropology and International Development from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.  He is a published author on issues of landscape, sustainability, and ware and violence within political conflict.

Some of his publications:

Article: Land of Symbols: Cactus, poppies, Orange, and Olive Trees in Palestine. Identities Journal. Global Studies of Culture and Power. Vol 15, June (2008)

Book: The Making of a Human Bomb: An Ethnography of Palestinian Resistance. Duke University Press (July 2009)

Article: Alternative Trade Organizations and the Fair Trade Movement. Social Research: For A Better World. Issue 6, Spring (2013) 


Nasser is driven by his passion for people and the land. To the Anthropologist the landscape is an ongoing discovery. This is more so, especially in Palestine. The Land of Canaan is where the first human agriculture revolution and hence human settlements began. The landscape has so much to offer us, signs and references, terrains that tell histories and stories of life. 


Nasser loves to cook, especially Palestinian dishes using fresh farm picked organic ingredients. He finds in cooking a social bond that connect us as humans and celebrate our diversity. His passion for Middle Eastern cuisine’s cooking is driven by his desire to sharing the culture experience of producing the food from the land and the social bonds the production and eating creates. Food is joyful experience that connects people cross all lines and opens a window for people to appreciate life, its connection to nature, and to other forms of life. Whether be it in other cultures or other natural species that hep produce the foods that we love. 


If you visit Canaan and Nasser is around, he would take you on a hike in the beautiful hills nearby our facility. Nasser says “The serene rolling hills around us are the most inspiring experience that provides calmness and clarity to the mind. “ through walk and hiking the land, the forces in the natural terrain regenerates energy in the body and mind. The natural terrain is an intense stimulation and opens the horizon to think beyond the here and now. 


Nasser leadership rests on the promoting vision and goals. Making sure everyone involved buys into the same vision and takes ownership in what they do.  Whether it is at the Canaan team level, PFTA staff, farmers and producers, Nasser leads by promoting a philosophy, a system of beliefs and aspired goals, opening spaces for creativity, participation, and initiatives. 


Nasser is a father of three children; Canaan, Karmel, and Sham, who grew up in Madison Wisconsin, and a new baby in Palestine with his wife Sherine.

Karmel his middle son also has passion for sustainability through his upbringing in Madison. He joined the company in Palestine straight from high school. Three years later Karmel is playing an important role in the business and is contributing immensely in leading the vision to give deep appreciation for the regenerative agriculture that exists in Palestine and to protect it, enable it, benefit from it, and share that knowledge with the world.  


Nasser’s groundbreaking work brought him world-wide recognition displayed in the following awards:

2017 Finalist, One World Award. Rapunzel and IFOAM, Germany.

Nov 2015, Green Company Award. José Navarro Foundation, Spain.

Jan 2013, Leadership Award, Citizenship Category. Specialty Foods Association, USA

Dec 2010, Inspiration of Hope Award. Interfaith Peace Builders. Chicago, USA.