Jumana Manna’s feature-length film Foragers depicts the dramas around the practice of foraging for wild edible plants in Palestine/Israel. Shot in the Golan Heights, the Galilee and Jerusalem, it employs fiction, documentary and archival footage to portray the impact of Israeli nature protection laws on these customs.
Restriction laws prohibit the collection of the artichoke-like akkoub and the herb za’atar and have resulted in fines and trials for hundreds caught collecting these native plants. Whilst Israeli state representatives insist on the need for these laws for environmental protection, Palestinians maintain that they constitute an ecological veil for legislation that alienates them from their land and their culinary practices.
The film follows the plants from the wild to the kitchen, documenting the pursuit of the foragers by the nature patrol and the foragers’ courtroom defences. It captures the joy and knowledge embodied in these foraging traditions alongside their resilience to the prohibitive law.
The film also raises questions around the politics of extinction; who determines what is made extinct and what gets to live on.
The film is presented as part of Acts of Gathering, an Eden Project programme bringing together artworks that celebrate and interrogate the nature of food culture in a rapidly changing world. The main exhibition of the programme can be seen at the Eden Project, St Austell until 2 January 2024.