With the growing awareness of how the food we eat can impact our health, small markets, which source their products locally using natural farming practices and produce fresh food, have become increasingly popular around the world and are starting to emerge in Jordan as well.
In the last six months, a small market that sells natural products grown locally has emerged in Abdoun, established in the courtyard of the Qudah family home. The market, named Botma, runs on Saturdays between 10 am and 2 pm, providing produce from the family’s farm in Ajloun where they grow more than 200 types of vegetables and fruits. For such a small market, Botma provides a diverse range of fresh produce and homemade products, including homemade pesto, jams, vinegar, free-range eggs, and fruit and vegetables—even grapes grown from seeds brought over from Tuscany.
The farm, which stretches across 170,000 square meters of land, has been in the family for the past two centuries and has always used natural farming methods. In more recent years the extended Qudah family have adopted permaculture—a sustainable and ecologically friendly farming practice—to grow and harvest their fruit and vegetables. This includes producing their own seeds, using only naturally made pesticides, and their own homemade fertilizers.
Nasser Qudah produces all the homemade products at the market. While trained as a lawyer, and having worked for many years in the corporate world, he decided to make the shift to becoming a chef and running the market with his family. “I declined a lot of offers actually to go back to the corporate life. Now I’m more focused on the market and carrying on with the plan to take it to the next level,” he said, adding that they hope to eventually open up a small restaurant that serves naturally produced food.
Qudah explained that his decision to step out of corporate life was motivated by his family, to spend more time with them and to protect them from dangerous foods. “The whole thing started with the idea that the farm can provide good quality food with no hormones, no chemicals, and nothing that’s genetically modified,” he said, noting that the family then decided to make their farm’s produce available to others as well.
While the market is currently small, it has around 40 regular customers and has grown in popularity through word of mouth and its Facebook page.