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Archive for : Shoresh

Repair Interview: Sabrina Malach on Shoresh

Over the last two decades, the Jewish environmental movement has grown from a fringe afterthought, to an important aspect of the mainstream Jewish community. Organizations like Hazon and programs like the Jewish Farm School, Teva, and Adamah have made a big impact in the States. Now, an awesome organization called Shoresh, founded in 2009 in Toronto, is helping to expand this awareness to the Canadian Jewish community. Repair the World recently spoke with Director of Community Outreach, Sabrina Malach, about Shoresh’s programming, gardening across the generations, and realizing the dream of land-based Judaism in Canada.

What was the inspiration behind starting Shoresh?
Both the founder, Risa Alyson Cooper, and I are from Canada but lived and participated in programs at The Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Falls Village, Connecticut. We were fellows in Adamah, the Jewish farming fellowship, and Risa was also a Jewish environmental educator with Teva. We talked a lot about what it would be like if we could bring programs like that to Toronto.

When Risa came back to Canada, she had the great idea of starting a community garden in the suburbs, and that was the beginning of Kavannah Garden. At the same time, there was a huge new Jewish community center in development in the northern part of the city, and she had the foresight to approach them about starting the garden there. Most of our other programs stem from there – overall, Shoresh’s success has centered on offering the right programs at the right time.

What types of programs do you run?
Kavannah Garden is our flagship program. Each spring and fall, dozens of day school groups come to visit. Shoresh developed a curriculum for kids from kindergarten to grade 5. It weaves in Jewish and ecological teachings, but is based on Ontario’s curriculum, so it allows teachers to justify field trips. One program example is, we have this bike-powered blender that the kids love. They’ll go and harvest edible weeds and herbs, then go on the bike and turn them into pesto. So it teaches them about plants and nutrition, and helps them learn to see a world where food is everywhere and everything is valuable. It also draws from the Talmudic teaching that it is forbidden to live in a city where there is no vegetable garden.

In addition to the school groups, we have have a family farm drop-in program, and a CSA running out of the garden. It has been so restorative to build this ecological place deep in the heart of the Toronto suburbs. Our hope is that people take the ideas they learn and that they ripple out into their backyards and neighborhoods.

Do you have educational programs outside of Kavannah Garden as well?
Yes, definitely – we work with participants from kindergarten age to people in their 90s. We partnered with the Baycrest geriatric center to develop three gardens. We’ve trained the staff their and also go in every other week to work with clients. It is amazing to sit with bubbes and zaydes there, many of whom have Alzheimer’s or other forms of Dementia, and talk about growing food. We do a lot of sensory workshops with them, like having them smell herbs. Working with them is a reminder that a lot of the work we do with gardening and food is not new, and that we have a lot of wisdom to glean from our elders.

We also started a new program at the Kensington Market called Maxie’s garden. Kensington was once the center of Jewish food and communal life in Toronto – it was where all the kosher butchers and bakers were located. That is mostly gone now, but there is a man in his 90s who has been living in this house there since 1927. His backyard has some of the best soil I’ve ever seen! We partnered with Toronto’s Jewish Family & Child Services to create a program in his backyard where women working below the poverty line come and grow food. It is amazing to help revive some Jewish food culture in Kensington, while actively bringing social justice into our programming.

What do you have planned for the future?
Our next big project is the creation of Bela Farm, a 114-acre rural center for land-based Judaism, education, and farming in Ontario. Expanding from a quarter-acre garden to a huge farm an hour outside of Toronto is a big jump, so we have spent the last three years visioning with our creative team to think about what we want, and how to make it our own instead of just replicating other farm projects. We hope to fully launch in 2016, but have already started an apiary there, started a small orchard of 17 fruit trees, and planted 300 garlic cloves (originally from Adamah!), which we hope to double this year. We are taking it slow and weaving permaculture and Jewish values like shmita into the design of the space.

How has working with Shoresh impacted you personally?
Personally, it has been so amazing to be able to work with a small organization that does so much amazing work. My own personal interests have been nurtured, and I have had the space to learn and explore while making a difference.

Learn more about Shoresh, Kavannah Garden, and Bela Farm – and see lots of great farm and garden pics! – at Shoresh’s website and Facebook page.

An Abundance of Sukkot Service and Celebration Opportunities

There’s a Jewish tradition that you are supposed to begin building your sukkah (the temporary outdoor dwellings Jews build for the harvest holiday of Sukkot) right after Yom Kippur ends. You are literally meant to hammer the first nail into the sukkah frame directly after breaking the fast as a way of making a physical connection between the sacredness of the high holidays and the rest of the year.

Whether or not you are personally building a sukkah this year, we’ve rounded up a bunch of ways for you to celebrate Sukkot with service. And since today is the day after Yom Kippur, it’s the perfect time to “hammer in that first nail” – metaphorically, anyway! Scan the list below to find a meaningful Sukkot opportunity near you.

  • NEXT: A Division of Birthright Israel Foundation: Sukkot is all about shelter, and this year, we’ve teamed up with NEXT to show you how to fight homelessness and help those in need. NEXT is also offering up to $200 toward materials to build your own Sukkah! For those urban dwellers or not yet homeowners, host a holiday meal and NEXT will help fund your groceries or take out order.
  • Shoresh: On October 7, the Canadian Jewish environmental organization is hosting a Sukkot celebration complete with a festive meal, learning and service activities at Bela Farm.
  • Urban Adamah: Join Repair the World grantee-partner, Urban Adamah on October 7 for their Eat, Pray, Lulav Sukkot Harvest Festival. Activities include live music, worm composting workshops, farm tours, face painting, and lots of delicious fresh food.
  • Hazon: On October 7, Hazon’s Colorado community is hosting a sukkah “bike hop.” Pedal on two wheels to different sukkahs, eating, learning and traveling in carbon-neutral style the whole way.
  • Jewish Farm School: On October 8, join Repair the World grantee-partner Jewish Farm School for their Sukkot Harvest Celebration. Eat a delicious organic lunch and glean crops on a farm that will be donated to the less fortunate. This event is being held in partnership with Food Day 2012.
  • UJA-Federation New York: From Oct 15-26, join UJA’s second-annual Care to Share initiative. Symbolically fulfill the Jewish custom of gleaning by donating a portion of your fresh CSA produce, food from your garden, or fresh produce you purchased to a local food pantry.

Find out more about Sukkot’s connections to service here. Did we miss any amazing Sukkot service opportunities? Let us know in the comments below or by tweeting us at @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.