During the first summer in my current home in Denver, there were plenty of bees in the garden. Every time I walked outside to see how things were growing, I could see the bees buzzing around the plants, happily pollinating my zucchinis and herbs. I had an abundant harvest that year; in fact, I probably still have some pesto in the freezer. The next summer, there were almost no vegetables to harvest. And upon reflection, I realized there were also no bees. That was the summer of 2006.
Around the country, a number of synagogues, JCCs, day schools, and other Jewish institutions are doing inspiring work to integrate the physical spaces of gardens and farms into their core work of transmitting Jewish ideas and values. Last month, I highlighted the increased popularity of school and community gardens and pointed out some of the necessary measures needed to maintain them properly and maximize their impact. Innovative Jewish institutions from synagogues to JCC’s and educational farms around the country are also taking broad steps to engage members, students and teachers in Jewish garden programming.
As the national discussion about food widens to include terms like food desert, food insecurity and food justice, Jewish food activists are broadening their responses to hunger in new and creative ways.