Hazon Food Programs: What’s Happening?

“Does every Jewish institution need a farmer?” The question struck me a few weeks ago when I was at the Long Island Hazon Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) site for a “Meet the Farmer” night. Rabbis, cantors, and educators are usually seen as necessary staff in a Jewish organization; and in this room full of CSA members, some new and some returning, it seemed that a farmer should be considered essential as well.  For the Forest Hills Jewish Center in Queens and the Reconstructionist Synagogue of the North Shore in Long Island, Maggie, from Golden Earthworm Farm, is their farmer. Maggie spoke about the time, attention, and thought that went into building each member’s box of vegetables each week. In addition, she felt privileged that through the support of these institutions, she was able to live her life as a farmer.

Since 2004, when Hazon launched the first CSA site in the Jewish community, Hazon has been on the forefront of the new Jewish Food Movement. In 2008, when 560 farmers, rabbis, educators, students, chefs, and foodies attended the Food Conference, Hazon became the home of this movement. The Food Conference, like all of Hazon’s Food Programs, examines food through the double prism of Jewish life and contemporary food issues. With registration now open for the 2009 Hazon Food Conference, we wanted to fill you in on the other Hazon Food Programs currently going on across North America and Israel.

Tuv Ha’Aretz: Hazon’s CSAs
Hazon’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program allows members to buy shares in a local farm and get weekly deliveries of healthy, local, mostly organic produce at competitive prices while supporting local farmers, building community and expanding our understanding of what it means for food to be kosher—not only “fit” for us, but “fit” for the Earth as well.

During the 2009 season, Hazon CSAs are operating in 32 different Jewish institutions from synagogues to JCCs, and other Jewish institutions like, Seattle JConnect/ Hillel and the King David School in Scottsdale, AZ. Over 90 exciting programs have taken place at these CSAs including trips to the farm to help plant seedlings, Jewish text study in the field, “Meet the Farmer” nights, classes on growing organic vegetables in your home garden, canning & preserving, potlucks, bagel brunches, and much more.

Jewish Food Education Network (JFEN)
In April, the Jewish Food Education Network (JFEN) was launched; JFEN offers resources, curricula, and teacher training on food and Jewish tradition. Educators who work at synagogues, day schools, home schools, camps, and many others have joined to network with each other and to learn how to bring Jewish Food Education into their communities. Some resources include Min Ha’Aretz, an 18-lesson interdisciplinary curriculum about food and Jewish tradition for students (typically grades 5-9) and a complementary curriculum for families and Food for Thought, Hazon’s sourcebook on Jews, Food, and Contemporary Life.

The Jew & The Carrot
Hazon’s award-winning blog, The Jew & The Carrot, continues to serves as a front page for all of Hazon’s food work, bringing the discussions of food, Jewish life and contemporary issues to far reaching corners of the Jewish community.

Recently The Jew & The Carrot featured a video Ode to Seltzer, a three part series from Rabbi Jill Jacobs about social justice and food, and a conversation about the new film, Food, Inc. The blog has moved to an entirely lay-led structure with five editors leading a team of 30 new writers and 30 returning writers. In addition to reading the blog at jcarrot.org, you can now follow JCarrot on Twitter and on Facebook!

The Shmita Project: 7-Year Goals for the new Jewish Food Movement
The Shmita Project is a partnership of Hazon and the Jewish Farm School. Using the Jewish tradition of a Sabbatical year, an initial draft of 7-Year Goals for the Jewish community’s relationship to land and food were presented at the 2008 Food Conference. Discussion and refinement of these goals continues throughout the year. We invite you to help write the 7-Year Goals, the next version of which will be presented at the 2009 Food Conference. Take part in formulating the education, action, and advocacy plans for the new Jewish Food Movement!

Join us!
In the next six months leading up to the 2009 Hazon Food Conference, Hazon’s food work will continue to expand and grow. If you are interested in starting a Tuv Ha’Aretz Hazon CSA, writing for The Jew & The Carrot, teaching from Hazon’s Jewish Food Education materials, or presenting at the 2009 Food Conference, be in touch.

We look forward to seeing you in December in California,

Judith Belasco
Director of Food Programs