(Macker) — A collective of Arab women has built a field of dreams with microloans guaranteed by KIEDF.

Just as Popeye touts his spinach, Arab mothers tout zaatar as an herb that will make children smart. So these Arab women — each a wife and mother — had little trouble deciding on the enterprise to finance with their pooled microloans. Motivated to go into business for themselves, and assisted by the Rural Women’s Development Project and KIEDF, they rented a field, bought supplies and plants, and returned to the land — as farmers, which is traditional for Arab women, and as owners of their own crop, which is not.

Their training included assertiveness and personal presentation, how to make and market prepared foods, and a taste of business management.

The women, who come from the village of Macker, near Akko, ride a bumpy road some three miles long to land in the field they can call their own. A lean-to, built of two-by-fours and a flimsy tarp, offers shady respite from the sun, a place to sit back on pillows and take stock of their work.

Here, they decided to sell half the crop as processed zaatar, or hyssop, which is used as a spice on pita and other foods. The other half is sold as mature plants. With the help of a business consultant provided by the program, they are tracking the expenses and proceeds of each to determine the most lucrative way to market their crop.

“They are doing it with their heart,” said Chagit Rubinstein, KIEDF microenterprise initiative program director. “With heart, and support of their families, their village, and KIEDF, this women’s collective will realize its dreams.”