Interview: Mamoun Abu Chakra

Orange_marmalade-3

Ammatour Jabal, Lebanon

PERSONAL BACKGROUND
Personal Background
(personal background of the person interviewed, not too much detailed, it depends on the context).

Diploma in social science; specialized in “rural development”, specifically in rural industry. He grew up in Beirut where he worked in journalism until he was diagnosed with many diseases when he was 40 years old due to his poor diet of fast food and fast life.

“When I was 40, I founded this establishment and started to eat from nature, and I turned back to a young man at 64! The first forty years of my life have exhausted me, but now I feel like I’m 20 again.” Said Mamoun.
Then he decided to permanently move to his home town Ammatour in 1991 and started Baladi establishment for commerce and agriculture which is a family business he manages by himself.
He says that he is fully satisfied with his work now. One of his motto is: every human being on this earth – no matter how rich and great he or she is – will eat and drink and sleep, connected in and with the nature. So, we must at least maintain our humanity and live in harmony with Nature.

ENVIRONMENT

Description of the environment where one of the activities listed above takes place:
(Please, specify: 1 – name of the local area, 2 – if it’s a place well-known for a specific activity and – if so – which one; 4 – information about plants and landscape related to Mediterranean environment linked to the activity; 5 – any relevant information linked to the research). If it’s possible, take pictures/shoot video of this place.

Ammatour is an abbreviation of 3 words: Ain Ma2 tor (the water spring of the mountain) considering the number of water springs which exceeds 365 springs.

With an altitude between 800-850m above sea level, it also has some hills with an altitude of 350m above sea level such as: Marj Ammatour (Ammatour meadow)

This area contains lots of agricultural lands sufficient for the people of Ammatour and nearby villages to cultivate.
In the old times, the flag of Ammatour was centered by the anemone windflower which is still the symbol of the village that centers a white flag.
Lots of educated influencing people came from this village.
It is famous for fruit trees such as olives and pomegranate.
The village celebrates olive day in the first half of August each year, where people (residents and expatriates) gather and enjoy a series of celebrations continues for a week followed by a sportive week.

TECHNIQUE/METHOD
Description of the technique/method/practice implemented. Please, specify – if it’s the case – the timing, the steps and the aim of the activity (to have more material: pictures + video shooting of the usage if it’s possible).

All employees are housewives with expertise in food making especially Lebanese preserved food.
The way of producing comply completely with the traditional original ways.

Production equipments vary between manual and semi mechanical stuff.

Equipments are made of new materials where clay barrels are replaced by special kind of plastic ones which are easier to work with and to clean. All barrels are replaced every 5 years. Also copper was replaced with stainless steal for its none toxicity. As for the production process, it is still maintained just like the old days.

PRODUCTS

List of natural products (fruits, vegetables, plants, fish and so on) depending on the activity/the activity is done for and related to the Mediterranean Diet. Promotion of the territory. Promotion of biodiver Promotion of slow and 0% consumptionif it’s the case, how the 0 Km production is working at local level: Region, if it’s a place famous for a specific activity, why and so?
Baladi has 3 product lines:
Dairy products: yoghurt, cow labneh, cream karisheh, labneh kanbarese made by al serdala and contains goat milk and sea salt (rich in iodine that is beneficial for mountain people), labneh balls (plain, with thyme, mint or chili), chingliesh (with thyme or chili), kishk.

Pickles: Armenian cucumber, cucumber, turnip, eggplant, cauliflower, cabbage, mix, makdous eggplant in oil, olives.

Home made products: marmalades (peach, quince, apple, blackberry), tomato paste, pomegranate molasses, distills (rose water, flower water), honey, olive oil, falafel.

A new product line has been launched, which is packing spices and herbs (most of them are imported) under the name of “Yara”.

Most products are sold in the local market especially for Lebanese homes and restaurants. Very small amounts are being exported to Canada, Saudi Arabia and Africa.

TRADITIONAL ORGANIZATION OF THE LOCAL ACTIVITY

If it’s an activity related to the promotion of the territory, the biodiversity and the slow and 0% consumption, please, describe how it works at local level (if it’s related to traditional practice or traditional organization of the food distribution, promotion of territory or 0% consumption).

Pickles are made of the vegetables locally grown in the village, but due to insufficient amounts of products, more amounts are being bought from Rachia and AlFarzal where the product is healthy and free from chemicals.

Cattle ranches of goats, sheep, geese, ducks and chickens. Mamoun make his dairy products in-house out of the goats and sheep milk which he raises in his own farm.

Animal wastes are used as fertilizers for the soil, respecting the cycle of nature.

He also cultivates beans, cowpeas, Armenian cucumber, zucchini, tomato, capsicum, pumpkin and a number of fruit trees: pomegranade, jujube, figs, grapes, pears, apple, avocado.
The farm also contains a number of aromatic plants such as: bay, pepper mint, Melissa, thyme, salvia.

MEDITERREANEAN SOCIETY AND ENVIRONMENT

How did you learn this method/technique/practice?

He learned these techniques originally from his mother and sister, then he made lots of research online and with the elderly of the village.

These techniques are ancient and some of the oldest ways people used in this part of the world.

Season (season this activity is specifically carried out)
Marmalades and pickles depend on the season of the fruit or vegetable used.
Olives, pomegranate molasses and tomato paste also depend on their season.
Diary products are usually all year round.