ANNOUNCING FOOD JUSTICE INTERNSHIP FOR HIGH SCHOOLERS

Are you passionate about food justice? Do you want to gain hands-on experience as part of a small team of teens working for a food justice campaign? Are you a Jewish teen who is interested in putting your beliefs into action?

Apply to our year-long Food Justice Internship. We are now accepting applications for high school juniors or seniors to work on a campaign for food justice as part of a collaboration between Abundance Farm, Congregration B'nai Israel and the Pioneer Valley Workers Center in Northampton..

Over the year, interns will receive social justice training, as well as leadership development and group building skills. They will learn about the history of food justice and community organizing. Interns will also serve as integral team members working on a major food justice campaign happening in Northampton over the next year. They will experience justice work by doing it, supported by a mentor and working with staff from both Congregation B'Nai Israel and the Workers Center.

This program will be around an 8--10 hour time commitment/ month. This is an unpaid internship, during which high school students will gain hands-on organizing skills, social justice training, and build deep connections with other young activists.

Application deadline is September 16th, and application can be found here. If you have any questions, please contact Grace Oedel at grace@abundancefarm.org.

 

Harvesting Hope Report from the Shalom Center

A message from our friends at The Shalom Center:

Harvesting Hope, October 4:

Hak’hel!  --   Assemble, Learn, Celebrate!

In the Heart of the Connecticut River Valley

[Dear friends, last week we shared with you "Sukkat Shalom vs. Climate Chaos" -- a Call to Assemble! -- Hak'hel!  -- on Sunday, October 4,  for Jewishly sponsored, multireligiously involved fusions of learning and celebation-- joy in the Earth and determination to heal the Earth from the ravages of global scorching. You can access that essay at https://theshalomcenter.org/content/sukkat-shalom-vs-climate-chaos-sunday-october-4

[What follows is a report on how folks in the Connecticut River Valley areplanning to do this. If you have plans for October 4 or a similar gathering, please write us. --  AW, editor.]

 “As the autumn season turns and the earth yields her fruits of summer labor, we gather.   We gather with the purpose of harvesting hope, to come together in community and envision a sustainable future.  

“We are guided by the concept of Shmita, the ancient biblical wisdom that encourages us to provide the land a Sabbath one year out of every seven; to deeply rest from production; to cancel debts, to take down fences, to share the land, to bring the slow living of the Sabbath to an entire year and deepen our trust that the whole world is filled with Glorious Presence….

“We gather to find ways to bring these values into the next six years; to deepen Sabbath Mindfulness in our society….” 

So begins our draft Harvesting Hope proclamation, just one part of elaborate Hak’hel celebrations springing up in the heart of the CT River Valley. 

Hak’hel started about 2500 years ago, when the Book of Deuteronomy called upon the whole People Israel to Hak’hel! --  Assemble! -- during the Harvest Festival of Sukkot festival after a Sabbatical Year of Shmita--  Release for the land, for its farmers, and for those who had become debtors.

On that day, the kings of ancient Israel would read aloud to the whole people some crucial Torah passages that added up to what we call eco-social justice. Hak'hel was the spark of what we might call a Seven-Year Plan for healing and renewal of society and the land -- seven years leading to and including the next Shmita/ Sabbatical Year. For us, how can we make sure that the next Shmita is not onlywistful hope but actually a major step toward healing earth from the climate crisis.

And in this generation, in New England, it started on a farm-- Abundance Farm.

Abundance Farm is a unique and innovative project of Congregation B’nai Israel in Northampton, MA, Lander Grinspoon Academy. and the Northampton Survival Center.  A working farm has been developed by food justice educator Rabbi Jacob Fine, and a crew of volunteers.  

With the help of Nili Simhai, past director of the Teva Learning Alliance, who brings her passion for outdoor classrooms, program development and grant writing to the mix. Abundance Farm not only provides food, but also wonderful outdoor experiential education and special programming for children, teens, families and adults throughout the year. (See www.abundancefarm.org for more information.)  

This past Spring, Abundance Farm received a Rabbi Everett Gendler Grapevine Project Grant which, among other goals, supports Rabbi Jacob and Nili to develop a community wide Sukkot celebration that includes renewing Hak’hel. 

Quickly the excitement grew. Supported by the Interfaith Climate Justice group, programming grew to include both a festive Hak’hel farm celebration on October 4th, and also gathering together valley wide events that highlight the environmental teachings of various religious traditions through sermons, panels, sing a-longs for the Earth, and several events highlighting Pop Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si.

Harvesting Hope is the name of the wider project that creates a calendar and website to help create and support these various programs.  In addition, public orchard workdays are planned, movie nights, pulpit exchanges and Sermons for the Earth will be highlighted on the Harvesting Hope calendar and website.  

The festive Hak’hel Farm Celebration is being planned for the day Reb Arthur Waskow is calling for Hak’hel celebrations:  Sunday October 4th.  (Thanks to Reb Arthur for all of his inspiration and networking helping bring Hak’hel back to life!) 

The Topsy Turvy Bus will participate, bringing family-friendly sustainability activities. Colorful ‘free food’ lawn signs can be created for families with veggies to share. Beit Ahavah, led by Rabbi Riqi Kosovske will create an interactive climate ribbon installation based on the installation from the Climate Rally.  

In addition, Rabbi David Seidenberg, author of the groundbreaking work, Kabbalah and Ecologyis inviting other religious communities to set up booths that share their traditions Earth connections.  (It is the holiday of Booths, after all.) 

Signature gathering actions, local Jewish and environmental organizations and an Alpaca farm (in honor of St. Francis Day) are also invited to attend.   The centerpiece of the program will be gathering everyone together with Shofarot, reading our Harvesting Hope Hak’hel Proclamation and Processing around the farm in celebration.  Rabbi Everett Gendler will be the special and honored guest and the Sukkah will be decked out in style.  

Fun, right?  But that’s not all.  Temple Israel in Greenfield is developing activities with the new leadership of Rabbi Andrea Cohen Keiner, past director of the Hartford Interfaith Eco-Justice project and long time food and sustainability activist.  

At the same time the Brattleboro Area Jewish Community, with the help of Maggid David Arfa, also received a Gendler Grapevine Project Grant.    This Gendler Grapevine Grant allows BAJC to create access to their 12 acres of field, forest and stream by adding welcoming interpretive signs, new trails, benches, a Mikvah site and outdoor gathering spaces for study, prayer, storytelling, meditation and more. 

The Brattleboro Celebration, Sense of Wonder: A Hak’hel Land Celebration, will also take place on the afternoon of October 4 with planned activities including Sense of Wonder stories and teachings from Maggid David Arfa; contemplative art activities led by Nanci Bern; kids creating pageantry and a procession through the land with percussionist and Gong Master Stephan Brandstatter. 

Again, the centerpiece will be the Shofarot gathering and reading of the Harvesting Hope Proclamation along with a ribbon cutting for our new trails and steps, and a procession walking through the land past butterfly garden, forest trails, veggie garden, heritage wheat garden, small orchard and overlooks.  What will your community contribute?

Let’s end with the last section of the draft “Harvesting Hope” proclamation, created by Maggid David with support from Rabbi David Seidenberg, Lainey Ulman and Lisa Rosenthal. Our hope is that this proclamation will both educate and inspire.  We will make the full proclamation available as soon as our fuller group signs off.  Stay tuned.  

“Holy texts read together; sacred stories shared aloud; inspired actions planned together strengthen and renew us.  We remember what our ancestors always knew: that the proper response to the sacred Earth is celebration.  

“Gifts and blessings continuously flow, calling us into loving dialogue and sacred covenant.  On this autumn day, we gather and go forward as neighbors and citizens to harvest hope.  We will spend the next six years listening deeply and working to bring us closer to the sustainable and regenerative future we all hope for. 

If not now, when?  If not us, who?  If not here, where?”

 With blessings of joy in the Season of Our Joy, the Harvest-time of Hope. 

--  Maggid David Arfa

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Harvesting Hope: A Multi-Faith Call To Action

Harvesting Hope is a series of events, actions, and celebrations organized by Pioneer Valley faith, environmental, and social justice communities. Inspired by the Biblical call to "Hakhel," (Assemble!) at the end of the seven-year sabbatical cycle, Harvesting Hope is connecting people within our communities around issues of land and agriculture, earth stewardship, food justice, debt, and restful time.

Bring family and friends to join in our many joyful assemblies this fall! For more information, see the Harvesting Hope section of our site and visit www.harvestinghope.net.

Abundance Farm Receives 3 New Grants!

With gratitude, we are pleased to announce that Abundance Farm has recently received support from:

 

JTS Seeds of Innovation Project

Toward strengthening our food justice education and advocacy efforts.

 

The Gendler Grapevine Project New Seeds Grant

Toward integrating the farm into educational and ritual life at CBI.

 

Jewish Endowment Foundation

Toward constructing an early-childhood outdoor classroom for Gan Keshet and LGA.

Taking Applications for Summer Teen Farming and Food Justice Internship

Abundance Farm: Teen Farming and Food Justice Internship

teen internship flyer

Abundance Farm is a Jewish food justice farm and outdoor classroom located in Northampton, Massachusetts. Abundance Farm is a unique collaboration between Congregation B'nai Israel, the Northampton Survival Center, and Lander-Grinspoon Academy to support local food security and to create a unique, outdoor learning environment. The farm includes a mixed fruit orchard, an educational garden, and a vegetable u-pick area for survival center clients.  Abundance Farm is a beautiful urban oasis where people of all ages, faiths, and backgrounds are drawn for nourishment, community, and learning.

This summer Abundance Farm will be offering a 9 week internship program for incoming 9th-12th graders. The program will run 3 half-days each week from June 22nd-August 17th for a total of 10 hours per week.  

Internship Activities will include:

Hands-on learning about small scale, organic, sustainable, gardening and farming including principles, history, techniques, and more;

Participating in garden and farm work including: hand weeding, hoeing, watering, fertilizing, mulching, and harvesting;

Helping maintain and manage the fruit tree orchard - weeding, mulching, watering;

Collaborating with Gardening the Community (GTC), a youth urban agriculture project in Springfield, MA. We will travel to GTC one day per week to work in their gardens and learn about their work;

Regular field trips to other farming projects in the region;

Learning about national and global efforts to create just and sustainable food systems - including movements for food justice, food workers rights, organic farming, urban farming, climate justice, and more;

Exploring the intersections of race, class, gender, religion, and spirituality in food movements;

Learning about soil fertility, weed pressure, pest pressure, and plant disease, in the gardens;

Researching and exploring growing systems and techniques such as companion plantings, lunar calendar plantings, educational plantings, and other permaculture and biodynamic principles;

Organizing a community event at the garden (to be decided by the group, could include a workshop, fundraiser, work-day, etc);

Helping maintain and manage the compost system;

Helping run the u-pick area for Northampton Survival Center clients who come to the garden (helping guide people in what, where, and how to harvest).

Required Qualifications:

-     This is a “get your hands dirty” internship!  We will be doing hard work in the gardens on hot summer days. Farm work is physically challenging (and rewarding!!)  Interns should come with motivation and energy - ready to jump into each day’s work.

  • Interns should be interested and excited to learn about both the nitty gritty (which weeds to pull up) and the big picture (global food movements and food justice).

  • Interns should have the ability to stay focused, complete tasks, and work both independently and in groups.

  • We ask for a full commitment to the internship which includes punctuality and consistent attendance.  We understand that occasional conflicts come up in the summer such as family vacations.  We ask that interns provide at least two weeks notice in advance of anticipated absences.  We will permit 4 excused absences before deducting pay from the internship stipend.  

Hours:
-10.5 hours per week, June 22nd-Aug 20th;

-Tuesday morning at Abundance Farm,  8:30-12:30, lunch at 12:00;

-Thursday morning at GTC in Springfield, 8:30-1:00, leaving CBI at 8:30 and returning to CBI at 1:00----lunch at 12:00;

-Sunday morning at Abundance Farm, 9:30-11:30

Stipend:

-Interns will earn a stipend of $500. $250 will be distributed to successful interns in mid-July and the final $250 will be distributed upon successful completion of the program.  Free, organic vegetables are also included to interns all season.

To Apply:  Complete this online form.

Abundance Farm Teen Internship Application












Now Hiring Farm Education Assistant!

Abundance Farm: Farm Education Assistant (Part-Time)

Abundance Farm is a Jewish food justice farm and outdoor classroom located in Northampton, Massachusetts. Abundance Farm is a unique collaboration between Congregation B'nai Israel, the Northampton Survival Center, and Lander-Grinspoon Academy to support local food security and to create a unique, outdoor learning environment.  Abundance Farm is a beautiful urban oasis where people of all ages, faiths, and backgrounds are drawn for nourishment, community, and learning

The Farm Education Assistant (FEA) at Abundance Farm will play an important role as part of the Farm team.  The FEA will be involved in both helping to manage the farm operation (i.e. planting, weeding, harvesting, orchard maintenance, etc.) as well as helping to facilitate farm-based educational and community programs.  This position will provide opportunities to learn and opportunities to lead.  The FEA will work closely with Farm Manager, Tory Field and with Farm Educator, Nili Simhai.  

Roles and Responsibilities:   In addition to the list below, there is the opportunity for the FEA to dedicate energy on a self-initiated project in consultation with AF staff.

  • Support classroom teachers in using the farm for educational needs

  • Independently facilitate farm-based education for students, families, and adults, with guidance from the Farm Educator

  • Lead staff person for drop-in work days on the farm

  • Lead facilitator for Summer Teen Internship

  • Food production assistance to include the full spectrum of jobs including crop planning, propagation, planting, weeding, fertilizing, irrigation, natural pest control, harvesting, etc.

  • Orchard maintenance

  • (possible) Light construction and infrastructure development/maintenance (e.g. greenhouse construction, trellises, compost bins, signage).

  • (possible) Outdoor classroom infrastructure development.

  • (possible) Organizing community workshops on different topics

  • (possible) Organizer for Spring festival/season kick-off event

  • (possible) Self-initiated project

Job Requirements:

  • Multiple seasons/semesters of experience working in an educational setting with elementary or middle school age children (includes camps, after-school, etc.)

  • One or more seasons of experience working with children in a garden/farm setting

  • Experience with, and interest in, working with teens

  • Passion for gardening/agriculture

  • Ability to work independently

  • Cheerful, team oriented

  • Very dependable and well organized

  • Jewish literacy and interests (preferable)

Schedule and Time:

  • While we ask for the FEA to commit to a regular weekly schedule, the exact schedule and number of weekly hours are negotiable and will be set in conversation with the Farm Manager and Farm Educator.  We estimate an average of 15 hrs weekly from April-September though the weekly schedule may be adjusted based on the time of the season and the needs of the farm.  

  • Our preferred start date would be the first week of April but we have some flexibility.

  • The FEA will also be expected to work independently a good deal of time.

Compensation: $9/hr plus free vegetables

College Credit may be available to interested candidates

To Apply: Please send a resume, cover letter, and two professional references to info@abundancefarm.org






 

Check Out Article about Sukkah Fest in the Gazette!

By LAURIE LOISEL @LaurieLoisel

Sunday, October 12, 2014 
(Published in print: Monday, October 13, 2014)

http://www.gazettenet.com/search/13876570-95/sukkot-festival-at-congregation-bnai-israel-brings-jewish-community-back-to-its-agrarian-roots

NORTHAMPTON — Men, women and children walked around in the golden-hued, sun-dappled side yard of Congregational B’nai Israel Sunday afternoon wearing crowns of greenery festooned with multi-colored flowers.

It was all part of the synagogue’s Sukkot Festival, but in the words of Rabbi Jacob Fine, who was wearing one decorated with a pastel-colored rose in the center, the crowns held “no deep meaning — just fun.”

The rest of the Sukkot Festival, though, offered plenty of both — deep meaning and fun.

Around 400 people turned out for the afternoon festival, where music played and children snacked on cider slushies and smoothies made from a blender powered by a stationary bicycle.

The Sukkot Harvest Festival, according to Fine, is the third and most significant of harvest festivals on the Jewish calendar.

“The Jewish tradition in its roots is an agrarian, land-based tradition,” said Fine, director of Jewish life and Abundance Farm at the synagogue. Abundance Farm, with its expansive vegetable and fruit garden in the back and orchard of fruit and berry trees in the front was an appropriate setting for the Sukkot Festival.

Fine said he sees initiatives like the farm and harvest festivals such as Sukkot as a way to reconnect the congregation with its agrarian past.

“Part of what we’re trying to do with this project is to restore that knowledge, and the observances and celebrations and connection to the natural world,” said Fine.

As if to demonstrate how well received that effort is, synagogue member Marcia Burick stopped by to thank Fine and congratulate him for organizing the festival.

“If there could have been anything like this when my children — who are in their 50s — were young,” said Burick. “The fun, the community spirit around it, the celebration. It’s such a positive experience for religious education.”

Fine said he believes it is important for modern-day Jews to focus on their agrarian past. “Judaism has become so detached from the natural world — it’s lost a lot of its earthiness,” said Fine. “We’re trying to bring to life in a real, experiential way those parts of Jewish tradition that are rooted in the land and natural cycles.”

At a wood-fired outdoor oven, Adam Garretson was keeping an eye on the final two of the 25 loaves of bread he baked for the festival, which he said were a huge hit.

“It’s gone,” he said of the bread. “There has been a line for most of the day.”

Among those enjoying his efforts were his daughter, Talia, 5, and son Asher, 7.

Garretson said he is not a professional bread-baker, but he bakes bread for his family at home.

“His children refuse to eat anything but Daddy-bread,” said his wife, Stephanie Silverman.

Among the attractions at the festival were face painting, apple-cider pressing, a table offering herbal teas, booths offering produce from local farms and falafel snacks from the Holyoke Hummus Company. Anyone artfully inclined made mosaics of colored dry beans with kidney, pinto, black and white beans, lentils and green peas.

Fine said Abundance Farm — a collaboration of the synagogue, Lander Grinspoon Academy and the Northampton Survival Center — has been a success this year in growing and harvesting and delivering fresh produce to the nearby Survival Center to give to its clients.

But he hopes in the coming years to provide a pick-your-own option for those who travel to the Survival Center for food supplies.

It’s all part of his mission to get people in closer connection with the earth and its natural rhythms.

Laurie Loisel can be reached at lloisel@gazettenet.com.

Launching "Shefa: Sustainable Living Skillbuilding Program for Teens!

We are really excited to announce the launch of Shefa: Sustainable Living Skillbuilding Program for Teens at Abundance Farm.  Over the course of the year teens will learn skills including plant propagation, maple sugaring, animal tracking, making fire with bow drills, carpentry, sourdough bread baking, tree grafting and more.  Spread the word!!!

Here is a program overview.

Here is the program calendar.

Here is the application.

Here is our Facebook page.

College Credit Now Available for Farm Interns!

We are very excited to announce that college credit is now available through the UMASS Stockbridge School for interns at Abundance Farm!  

 

We are currently accepting applications for four different internships for Spring, Summer, and Fall 2018:

 

Vegetable Production

Spring-Fall: Learn the necessary skills to maintain a 1-acre urban farm and develop leadership skills through facilitation of farm tasks.

Permaculture Orchard Design

Spring/Summer: Apply classroom Permaculture knowledge to a real-life community project!  We are looking for students who have some background in permaculture design and can also help enact the plan.

Community Harvest Facilitator

Summer/Fall:  Attend "Pick-Your-Own" hours at Abundance Farm where clients from the Northampton Survival Center, as well as community members in general, are invited to harvest food and spend time at the Farm together.  Share harvesting knowledge, lead volunteer tasks, and build community.

Summer Food Justice Educator

Summer:  Help plan, enact, and evaluate the teen farming and food justice internship this summer at Abundance Farm.  A great opportunity to gain teaching experience, curriculum design, and support a community project.

 

All interested students should send a letter of inquiry to info@abundancefarm.org 

FRONT PAGE of the Daily Hampshire Gazette!

We are the lead story of the Daily Hampshire Gazette today.

http://www.gazettenet.com/home/11889441-95/new-abundance-farm-at-congregation-bnai-israel-northampton-to-provide-food-for-the-survival

New 'Abundance Farm' at Congregation B’nai Israel, Northampton, to provide food for the Survival Center

  • KEVIN GUTTING
    Emmett Leader, left, Lander-Grinspoon Academy interim principal Deborah Bromberg Seltzer and Rabbi Jacob Fine of Congregation B'nai Israel gather in the community garden that will become Abundance Farm in Northampton. In foreground is an oven that Leader, a potter, built using mud and clay from the excavation site of the new Northampton Police Headquarters on Center Street. Purchase photo reprints

By REBECCA EVERETT

NORTHAMPTON — When Rabbi Jacob Fine came from New York to take a job at Congregation B’nai Israel in the summer of 2012, he was excited to see a small garden in a field next to the synagogue.

Fine has a passion for Judaism’s agricultural history and traditions, and said then, “I have a whole vision of how that could be a farm.”

Now, it is Abundance Farm.

On Sunday, more than 300 people took over a one-acre site between the synagogue and the Northampton Water Department on Prospect Street to make the farm a reality. They spread compost and readied a 6,000-square-foot vegetable garden and planted over 40 fruit trees and 45 berry bushes.

Similar to the early Jewish law that required farmers to leave the corners of their fields unharvested so the hungry could pick what they needed, the fruit in the orchard will be available, once it matures, for anyone to pick and eat.

Abundance Farm is a collaboration among the synagogue, the Lander-Grinspoon Academy behind it and the Northampton Survival Center next door. Fine, the synagogue’s director of Jewish life, described it as a food justice farm that will provide produce for the Survival Center, an outdoor classroom for students of the Jewish day school and a place for the community to meet and get closer to its agricultural roots.

The idea of a food justice farm goes back to the foundational Jewish religious text, the Torah.

“In our tradition, it’s not charity. The word is ‘tzedaka,’ and it means justice,” Fine said. “Food security is a central value in the Jewish tradition. There were laws about sharing resources.”

In addition to the law about the corners of the fields, called pe’ah, other laws required farmers to tithe 10 percent of their crops to provide for the community and let their land lie fallow every seventh year known as shmita. In that year, anyone in the community can harvest whatever the untilled fields produce.

“One of the things we were talking about as we designed this project was how can we take the spirit of these laws, or actively put some of these old laws into practice?” Fine said. That’s where the pick-your-own orchard comes into play.

The other produce raised, from peas to green beans, will be delivered to the Northampton Survival Center, and people who use the center are welcome to volunteer on the farm, Fine said.

While the farm will at first involve the synagogue, school and Survival Center, Fine hopes to eventually expand its reach to include other schools, the wider faith community and more city residents.

The congregation’s longtime leader, Rabbi Justin David, said Abundance Farm is a “visionary project that is certainly unique among synagogues.”

It makes sense in this area especially, where people are very supportive of conscientious farming, David added. “I think it’s particularly well-suited to what it means to be a synagogue and a place of worship in the Pioneer Valley in the times in which we live,” he said.

Heidi Nortonsmith, executive director of the Survival Center, said she appreciates the inclusive spirit of the project, as well as the produce it will provide for the roughly 4,000 people that rely on the center each year.

“They want to invite collaboration, invite volunteers and clients to come and help themselves to food,” she said. “They say, ‘Come dig in the dirt with us.’ ”

Sarah Pease, program director of the Survival Center said organizers of Abundance Farm inquired about the kinds of produce clients need the most. “That’s always a wonderful phone call to receive,” she said.

Abundance Farm planted raspberry and blackberry bushes because the Survival Center rarely gets berries because they do not transport or keep well.

Fine said the estimated budget for the inaugural year of the project is $30,000. To raise the first $10,000, they have launched the “100 Bowls for Abundance Farm” fundraiser. The first 100 people who donate $100 to the cause will receive an “abundance bowl” made by potter Emmett Leader, a member of the congregation, using clay from the excavation site of the new Northampton Police Station on Center Street. So far, that has raised about $8,000.

Growing a farm

This is not the first time the site has been tilled. From roughly the 1800s to the 1950s, Fine said, the parcel was the site of the Alms House and part of the 15-acre poor farm tended by its residents.

Sitting at a picnic table on the property last week, Fine and Leader explained that the congregation bought the property from the city in 2002 without a clear vision of how to use it.

After nearly 10 years, a few parents in the congregation, including Leader, decided it would make a good site for a garden where their children could learn about growing food. They fenced in a small portion of the property, brought in topsoil and planted figs, horseradish, garlic, and other food. Leader built a traditional cob oven there using the Northampton clay.

Whenever they could, they brought produce to the Northampton Survival Center.

About a year ago, synagogue leaders, with the support of the garden volunteers, started looking seriously into the idea of making the small garden into a more active farm.

The area will include an orchard open to Prospect Street, a garden of row crops and the original garden Leader and his friends planted. There will also be an outdoor classroom that can double as a gathering place for weddings, bar mitzvahs, potlucks or just to hang out around the cob oven, Leader said.

A 15-member leadership team made up of representatives of the three institutions heads the project. They hired Tory Field, a co-founder of the Next Barn Over in Hadley, to be Abundance Farm’s part-time farm coordinator. She will manage the crops, the volunteers and students working on the farm, and the development of an after-school farming course for the Lander-Grinspoon students.

Deborah Seltzer, interim principal of the 74-student Lander-Grinspoon Academy, said there have been two small gardens on the school property in the last five years, but neither were very fruitful or integrated into the curriculum.

Some teachers took their students to the garden Leader and his fellow volunteers built, Seltzer said, but Abundance Farm will be a more official part of the curriculum.

The older students at the school with Grades Kindergarten to 6 will be especially involved on the farm as they study the environment and agrarian religious traditions.

Fine, who moved back to his hometown of Amherst in the summer of 2012, previously worked as director of programs for the Jewish Farm School, a New York-based nonprofit that promotes sustainable agriculture.

With more and more people becoming interested in local food, conscientious farming and sustainability, Fine believes that agriculture is giving younger people in particular a new, exciting connection to their faith. “People have re-engaged with the Jewish faith through hands-on agriculture,” he said.

He added that Jewish people typically are thought of as bookish types, academics and urbanites, but not farmers. But much of the religion, such as the many holidays based on harvest times, is rooted in its agricultural past.

Leader said the garden provided a way for his daughters to connect with their Jewish community outside of the synagogue. He sees that happening even more with both children and adults at Abundance Farm.

“It really does open the doors for people who might not normally come here,” he said.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

http://www.gazettenet.com/home/11889441-95/new-abundance-farm-at-congregation-bnai-israel-northampton-to-provide-food-for-the-survival

Groundbreaking Work Party - May 18, 2014

Please join us on Sunday, May 18th for our historic Groundbreaking Work Party.  In the morning volunteers will help with various work projects including building and shaping planting beds, planting fruit trees and much more.  In the afternoon we will come together as a community to celebrate the emergence of Abundance Farm and the Jewish festival of Lag B'omer--a joyful day in its own right.  

More details to come soon!