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Artas Lettuce Festival 2007: 32 Farmer’s Market and Economic Impact

Contributed by Artas Folklore Center on 06.06.2007:

The farmer’s market, featuring the famous Artas lettuce, packaged herbs and homemade preserved delicacies, took place under an improvised awning next to the building housing the embroidery and exhibit. This market was only one of many income-generating activities of the Lettuce Festival benefitting not only Artas residents but people from the surrounding area and beyond.Though hardly a colorful subject, economics, perhaps more than anything it shapes and colors the texture of daily life, relationships and attitudes. The greater the penetration of the “market economy” and the values and work ethics that accompany it, the more peasants are turned into day laborers, the harder traditional Palestinian hospitality and other social values which stress community support are to preserve. At the Folklore Center we strive to find ways to allow villagers to make a living while preserving their traditional lifestyle and to repair the social fabric and safety nets ripped by the erosion of the traditional agricultural economy.Without a doubt the festival contributed to the local economy. Bethlehem hotels benefited from the 17 artists who participated in the Paintbrush Competition and possibly other festival goers. Artas farmers benefited as the Artas Folklore Center bought 1200 heads of lettuce at a cost of 3200 NIS to pass out to delegations and dignitaries from the two farmers whose lettuce they thought to be the best. They bought. Five or six other farmers also sold lettuce at 2 for seven shekels for a profit 5-600NiS worth. The Artas Women’s Group also benefited. Ahlam Sanad, head of the kitchen says that this year for the first time the women made a profit on the food they sold.Many people bought the packaged sweet or savory pastries and some ordered meals. Many more people have had a chance to taste the particularly delicious fare made by the women, which could lead to more people coming to eat at the center or to order out.A new market was opened in crafts: Hamed Qawasmeh will sell the plaster plaques exhibited by Nidal Ayesh in the UK. A potential new market was opened for the Uzbek Cultural Center since people kept asking to buy the newer embroidery exhibited as well.Just having people learn the way to Artas, which they might not otherwise go to the trouble to do, has potential to contribute to the economy if they then bring or tell their friends for tours, meals, hikes or other activities. This should be a lot easier now since the festival provided the impetus to finally make a map! Original Content Creator: Artas Folklore Center

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