Archive for : Urban Agriculture

Thanksgiving Harvest: Three Great Jewish Farming Organizations

With Thanksgiving coming up tomorrow, our collective thoughts are on family, friends and, most importantly, food! That means it is the perfect time to celebrate the world-changing work of three (yes three!) Repair the World partner organizations that put food justice, sustainable food production and the intersection of food and Jewish life at the center of their agendas.

We’ve written about these organizations before. But as turkey day (or tofurkey day, as the case may be) draws near and we break out bubbe’s pecan pie recipe, we thought we’d check back in with them to see what great, on-the-ground (and in-the-field) work they’re up to!

Adamah A pioneer in the field of Jews and farming (the program launched back in 2003), Adamah is known for it’s 3-month fellowships that combine communal living, Jewish life and learning, and sustainable farming. They are also a working CSA, providing farm-fresh vegetables to families in Connecticut, and make uber-tasty kosher, lacto-fermented pickles and cheese (more info on where to buy here).

Jewish Farm School was founded to teach participants about “contemporary food and environmental issues through innovative trainings and skill-based Jewish agricultural education.” They lead all sorts of great, hands-on, in-the-dirt programs (including running the farm at Eden Village, a Jewish environmental summer camp). Their new FeastForward initiative uses visual media (like short films) to raise awareness about food and environmental issues.

Urban Adamah Founded as a West Coast, urban version of Adamah, program participants live, farm, learn, teach, and celebrate together in Berkeley, California. Their innovative take on Jewish life and urban farming has gained widespread attention, including articles by Grist and San Francisco Chronicle. The farm also runs a variety of programs for the public, including an upcoming “earth skills” event on Nov. 29 (register here). Apply to be a fellow in 2013 here.

Are you working to transform the food system here or abroad? Tell us your story @RepairtheWorld!

Repair Recipe: How to Have a Farming Friendly Summer

Are you craving a summer filled with fresh veggies, time spent outside, a chance to dig in the dirt, and an opportunity to work towards food justice – but not sure how to get there? Repair the World has got you covered. We’ve crafted three easy-to-follow recipes that will have you enjoying the tastiest local produce and contributing to a more equitable food system. Check them out and get farming!

Recipe 1: Grow it yourself
Ingredients:
– 1 small backyard, community garden plot, large container, or window box
– a good amount of soil
– a few packets of seeds or plants
– lots of water
– 1-2 videos (like this or this) explaining how to grow food in an urban environment
– A couple of clicks on Ample Harvest’s website.

Take a look at your space (or lack thereof) and decide how many vegetables and fruits you want to attempt to grow. Combine soil and seeds or plants, adding water frequently until vegetables arrive. Refer to videos as needed. Donate any excess produce to help feed hungry people with Ample Harvest (make sure your local food pantries are registered on their site!)

Recipe 2: Support a local farmer
– 1 Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) membership
– 2-3 sturdy tote bags
– 7-10 reusable produce bags
– 1 volunteer shift at your CSA
– 12 weekly trips to the farmer’s market
– 1 kitchen

Pick up your locally-grown vegetables and fruit at your CSA once a week throughout the season. (Say hello to your farmer if he or she is there!) Pack your vegetables and fruit into your tote bags and produce bags. When it’s time, do your volunteer shift and help keep the CSA running smoothly. Supplement your produce haul (with bread, cheese, eggs, honey and other goodies) with weekly trips to the farmers market. Cook in your kitchen like a veggie-loving maniac! Find recipe ideas here.

Recipe 3: Go, grow and learn
– 1 summer volunteer day on the farm with Urban Adamah
– 1 weeklong sustainable agriculture/food justice workshop with Jewish Farm School (apply by May 15)
– 1 week (or month) spent volunteering on an organic farm with WWOOF
– 1 workshop on preserving your harvest through pickling and canning led by Shoresh

Check your calendar and spread ingredients liberally throughout the summer months. Pack your overnight bags and enjoy.

What’s your recipe for creating a farming friendly summer? Let us know in the comments below or by tweeting @repairtheworld.

Repair Interview: Joelle Berman Talks Food Justice and CSAs

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs – which give people the opportunity to pay in advance to receive a season’s worth of produce directly from a local farmer – have skyrocketed in popularity over the last decade. And it’s no wonder why. Members enjoy the personal connection with a farmer, the thrill of trying new vegetables, and the peace of mind they get from eating fresh, local food.

In Brooklyn, New York the 130 families who belong to the Brooklyn Bridge CSA like those things too. But they also see the CSA as a platform to do powerful food justice work in their community and around new york. And with support from two amazing organizations, Hazon and Pursue, they have built a vibrant, justice-focused CSA that is making a difference on the plate and off.

Joelle Berman (who spends her days as the communications manager for the Foundation for Jewish Camp, and her evenings and in-between hours being a volunteer extraordinaire for the Brooklyn Bridge CSA) spoke with Repair the World about using the CSA model to leverage food justice, the importance of working with a strong team, and why volunteering has become her creative outlet.

How is the Brooklyn Bridge CSA different than most others?
It’s a joint project between Hazon and Pursue that uses the CSA model to advance justice work. That’s an explicit part of our mission. We exist for all the reasons every CSA does – to provide local, fresh, sustainably produced, healthy veggies for people who want to receive them from farmers. But we have the additional lens of incorporating justice work into our model and programming.

What does that look like in practice?
It starts with our tiered payment structure program. We have a base price, a discounted share that is $100 less than the base, and what we call a “sponsor” share that is $100 more. Members pay what they can, based on their income level. We aim to specifically do outreach to low income communities, to help raise awareness about CSA as an option. We also share tons of information on food justice in our weekly newsletters to CSA members.

How do you spread the word?
We have spoken to just about every community organization, school, and YMCA in the neighborhood, and focus on forming partnerships with them. For example, we have a relationship with the church around the corner from the synagogue where we hold distribution. Via one of our members who volunteers with the church’s soup kitchen, we’ve been able to involve the greater community in that work. We have also experimented with partnering with the South Bronx CSA – giving them some of the excess funds we raised from “sponsor” shares to help people in their community join their CSA. We’re hoping to scale up that model with other CSAs in the coming year.

Why do you think other CSAs are less likely to focus on food justice work?
What we’ve found is that the kind of justice work we’re doing is not very popular, and it’s not necessarily because other sites don’t want to do it. It’s that there are many logistics involved with running a CSA, and time limitations are real. For many groups, just keeping the CSA running smoothly is the limit of how far they can stretch.

What inspired you to make the time commitment?
I was a member of the CSA it’s first summer. Halfway through the season I went to a film screening of “What’s Organic About Organic?” and ended up re-screening the film for our CSA, and facilitating a group discussion around it. 100 people showed up to the event! Because of that, the CSA’s organizing group swarmed me about getting more involved. I was reluctant to say yes, but before I knew it I was deeply involved. You kind of catch this fever, and end up way more devoted than you expected.

Does the food justice aspect make running a CSA more fulfilling for you?
It’s sort of amazing. I can’t really imagine a CSA without food justice work – it’s exactly the right use of a CSA. Once you’re a member of a CSA, you have already committed to something bigger than yourself. Why not leverage that further?

Personally, this CSA has become a creative outlet for me. 130 families allow 9 unpaid volunteers to manage their money and make sure a farmer gets paid for his work. No one is telling us what to do. The whole thing just happens on a wing and a prayer, and we keep it going because we care about it. As a volunteer, having that level of trust and creative control is very empowering. I have a very solid connection with the 6 other people on the organizing group with me – even though I wasn’t friends with any of them beforehand. They are smart, talented people and an honor to work with.

Do you connect your service with the CSA with your Jewish heritage?
I think it’s no mistake that there is a disproportionate amount of Jewish representation in our organizing croup. 3 out of the 9 of us work in the Jewish communal world. We do it to manifest values and ideas that are important to us, and I think a lot of that comes from Jewish tradition.

Live in New York City? Join Joelle and other great CSA volunteers and members at the Just Food CSA in NYC conference this weekend!

Farm in the City: Urban Adamah

In the last decade, the country’s growing obsession with local, traceable food has lured many Gen Y-ers away from the city and towards rural life on the farm. (Green Acres anyone?)

But in some cases, it has also brought the farm to the city. Urban agriculture and community garden projects are literally sprouting up in cities across the country from New York, Chicago and Detroit to Seattle and Los Angeles. In northern California, a new program called Urban Adamah is planting roots on a city block in Berkeley. (See what the plot looked like before the farm, here.) The food will be grown by fellows who’ll work together for three months and live in a communal house nearby. 90 percent of Urban Adamah’s produce will be donated to organizations serving people in need in the local community. The rest will be consumed by the fellows.
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The Jewish Farm School’s Alternative Spring Break 2011

For many students, spring break is simply a weeklong excuse to party alongside a pool or beach. But for those searching for a more meaningful experience over their vacations, the Jewish Farm School (JFS) is offering 75-100 Jewish students an alternative: the opportunity to get knuckle deep in soil and learn about sustainable agriculture techniques. This type of spring break probably won’t receive the MTV treatment but will be a whole lot more memorable and possibly life changing.
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Gear up for Fall with Jewish Farm School

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you likely know about the Jewish Farm School and Eden Village Camp – two organizations at the forefront of the Jewish environmental movement. (For newcomers: Jewish Farm School is a Jewishly rooted sustainable agricultural organization and Eden Village Camp is a new, ecologically-focused Jewish day camp for kids and teens.)

Now you have the opportunity to go beyond reading about these organizations and experience their work first hand. This fall, the Jewish Farm School will host a series of events (both day-long and multi-day) that explore organic farming and permaculture, Jewish learning and social justice. Read below for more information and register today for an inspiring fall.

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Photo Journal: In the Fields with Jewish Farm School and Hillel

As promised, here is a photo diary of the Jewish Farm School/Hillel’s organic farming alternative spring breaks.

These pictures, which were taken by NYU student Amalyah Oren, highlight her group’s 6-day food and farming adventure at Tierra Miguel, an 85-acre, non-profit educational farm and foundation in Pauma Valley, California. Like all of the trips co-organized by the Jewish Farm School and Hillel, the group at Tierra Miguel volunteered in the fields, learning valuable skills in sustainable agriculture, and also engaged in text studies and discussion about everything from Jewish agricultural laws, to medicinal herbs, to global food security.

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