Lunch and Learning in the Sukkah, on the Farm

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Sept 27th, 2015, 11:45am-3:30pm

Join us for a vegetarian catered lunch.
Please bring a side dish or something from your harvest to share!

Following lunch we will celebrate the season with:

  • Readings and reflection on the end of this shmita cycle
  • Mindful walking in the garden
  • Art and exercises for expression and play
  • Yoga / Movement practice

There is no charge and the community is invited, but space is limited. Please RSVP to caplan.carole@gmail.com.  Directions will be provided.

This event is hosted by AARC and the Jewish Alliance for Food, Land and Justice, and is funded in part by a generous grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor!

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Is there a new Jewish back to the land movement?

green-things-logo-1Is there a new Jewish back to the land movement? Let’s talk about it together on June 14th when we gather at Matthaei Botanical Gardens for the Farm Education and Sustainability Food Fest and take a tour of Green Things Farm. Certainly Nate Lada, who with his wife Jill Sweetman are the owners and operators of Green Things Farm, sees a connection between his Hebrew Day School education and his commitment to sustainable agriculture. When he was a guest speaker at a UM Hillel Tu B’Shvat seder in 2012, Nate talked about the importance of agriculture and respecting the Earth as central to the Jewish tradition. Twentysomething graduates of the UM where they both studied Environmental Science, Nate and Jill have taken advantage of several opportunities created by longtime Ann Arbor environmental activists such as the Ann Arbor greenbelt program, a thirty year investment voted on in 2003. With the goal of starting a family farm, Nate and Jill spent two years (2011-2012) as part of the first cohort at Jeff McCabe and colleagues’ Tilian Farm Incubator Program. There Nate and Jill learned many of the basics of the business of farming while taking advantage of the program’s land, equipment, farming mentors, and community support. The land they bought to start their own farm, on Nixon near Warren about 5 miles north of downtown, was also part of the greenbelt program, in which the city of Ann Arbor bought development rights on the properties, making the land affordable for farming. [Read more…]

Food/Land/Justice in the Washtenaw Jewish News

Here are the five articles from the Washtenaw Jewish News about our Food, Land, & Justice activities in 2014/2015, the Shmita year.

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Behind the Kitchen Door

611taCpxXoLOn  Sunday April 12 you can join a group of Jewish social justice activists who will visit the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) in Detroit to learn about the often invisible problems of restaurant workers. Many of those workers—often with children—qualify for food stamps and live a paycheck away from homelessness. Discrimination, wage theft, and abusive working conditions are common. The deadline to register for this event is April 6, see the bottom of this post for more details.

Founded in 2008, ROC-Michigan is dedicated to winning improved working conditions and opportunities for advancement for Southeast Michigan’s 134,000 restaurant workers. ROC-Michigan is an independent affiliate of ROC United, a national organization of over 10,000 restaurant workers.  ROC was originally founded in New York City by a group of restaurant workers who had formerly worked at the World Trade Center and were displaced by the 9-11 tragedy.

In her 2013 book Behind the Kitchen Door, ROC co-founder Saru Jayaraman writes, “Sustainability is about contributing to a society that everybody benefits from, not just going organic because you don’t want to die from cancer or have a difficult pregnancy. What is a sustainable restaurant? It’s one in which as the restaurant grows, the people grow with it.”

This program will feature a vegetarian, kosher-style Cajun/ Soul fusion lunch at ROC’s COLORS Restaurant. Following the meal we will learn about issues faced by restaurant workers from a panel including COLORS staff. Cost of the meal is $18 per person. Any additional donations are tax-deductible and go to support ROC. To reserve a spot, make a check out to “ROC-MI,” indicate # of attendees, and mail to the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue, 1457 Griswold St, Detroit, MI 48226. Deadline is April 6th. Reconstructionist Congregation is co-sponsoring this joint social justice program along with six other area Jewish groups. Carpooling is encouraged! For questions or more information contact Steve Merritt at stevemerritt2@gmail.com.

Vote Now for Food, Land and Justice!

images (3)AARC members Idelle Hammond-Sass, Rena Basch and Carole Caplan are leading lights of our community’s Jewish Alliance for Food, Land and Justice. The Alliance’s program for 2015, Preserving Shmita, is in competition for support in the Ann Arbor Federation’s Jewish Community Impact Fund vote. The proposal is a request for $8,000 to continue programming for the entire community on sustainable, healthy, fair food and food systems and earth stewardship. You can read about last year’s Shmita programming here and here.

This year’s proposal includes many creative ideas for deepening existing connections to Jewish ethics and values such as a Farm-to-Shabbat Table initiative, envisioned as a community-wide event occurring every season with Shabbat dinners sourced from locally sustainably grown food with farmers present; training and networking for Jewish event planners in support of sustainable food initiatives between farms and food service providers; and creation and dissemination of farm-based Jewish curriculum for religious school within each congregation, supported by a Food Festival day of education/experiences at a local farm.

Voting on the Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor’s Impact Fund proposals is open until February 27th. You are welcome to vote if you have donated a minimum of $18 to the Federation in 2014 or 2015. As part of AARC’s efforts at Tikkun Olan, we offer our members a Flexible Giving Option, in which you can make choices about how your donation to the Federation will be used. You can read more about Flexible Giving and find a donation form on our website’s Tikkun Olam page.

Our local involvement with Food, Land and Justice connects us to a dynamic worldwide movement of Jews. Soul Fire Farm, a CSA family farm in New York, is honoring Shmita– giving the land a Sabbath–and also publicizing their restorative justice program. Another good connection to Shmita and sustainability is the Hazon Shmita Project.

Don’t forget to vote!

[Read more…]

Edible Home Landscapes: From saving seeds to harvesting from your trees

Edible Landscapes

Sunday, February 1, 2015, 1 pm – 3 pm, at the JCC
Join us in honor of Shmita and Tu B’shevat

Think beyond grocery stores, farmers markets, and CSAs – what if healthy foods were right outside your kitchen door?

Local plant guru Erica Kempter from Nature and Nurture Seeds will educate us on soils, seeds, and trees needed to create edible landscapes at home.

Dialogue, text study, hands-on learning, and refreshments.

Admission is free, but please pre-register!

Event is at the JCC, 2935 Birch Hollow Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48108.

Organized by the Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Congregation, Pardes Hannah and the Jewish Alliance for Food, Land, and Justice.

This event made possible in part with support from the Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor.

More on Shmita: December 7 Event

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From the last Shmita event, the Food, Land, & Justice Bus Tour (Sept. 14, 2014)

By AARC Member Carole Caplan, for the Washtenaw Jewish News

On December 7, 2014, the community is invited to gather at St. Joe’s Hospital to explore how the Jewish teachings of Shmita are coming to life through the impact of regional institutions and their commitments to local, healthy food.

Meet at St. Joe’s Women’s Health Center, 5320 Elliot Dr, Ypsilanti.
1:00pm-3:30pm.
Free.
For information, contact Carole Caplan at carolecaplan@livebychoice.com, or Idelle Hammond- Sass at Hammond_sass@msn.com

For the year’s Shmita activities, see this page.

The event is a continuation of an exciting year-long exploration of the teachings of Shmita, funded by a grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor late last winter. “For me, the commandments of shmita can be seen as a built-in seventh year wake-up call,” said AARC member Carole Caplan, who is co-chairing the event with fellow congregant Idelle Hammond-Sass. Caplan explains that “Shmita, which means ‘release’, is the opportunity to become conscious of our relationships with each other, with the environment, and with our understanding of true health, nourishment, and ‘enough-ness’. Just as Shabbat is an opportunity to re-set our ideas about production and consumption on a personal level, Shmita provides us with a unique and important opportunity to re-imagine and reset our practices regarding food production and consumption in and beyond our own homes out into our communities.”

AARC member and owner of Locavorious, Rena Basch, agrees. “Modern philosophy on how to celebrate and honor the Shmita years recommends we take the time to re-imagine society, re-lease the land and re-think farming”. Basch, who began working in the local sustainable food movement in 2006, founded Locavorious, a locally grown frozen fruit and vegetable CSA here in Ann Arbor. “Do you wonder how we, and our community, our congregations, our schools, and our institutions can support the values and intentions of this Shmita tradition?” Basch questioned. “This event will introduce us [Read more…]

Cultivating Shmita: Re-Wilding Our Ecosystem, Our Diet, Our Medicine

By Idelle Hammond-Sass

Drake Meadow took some of us on an illuminating permaculture walk at the Fall Sukkot Retreat. It was especially relevant in this year where we are cultivating a new ‘Shmita mentality‘.

Idelle and Drake examining a plant at the 2014 Sukkot Retreat

Idelle and Drake examining a plant at the 2014 Sukkot Retreat

We learned to find edible and healing plants in our own yards and how those things that many people sacrifice to have a typical American lawn are actually better to embrace, cultivate and use in tinctures and teas. Drake’s knowledge and ability to notice plants reminded me of how little we know about the land around us.

Shmita reminds us to recognize that even when the land is fallow and wild, it can provide nourishment and even healing herbs for us. Allowing the land to rest can bring a different type of harvest as well, as local and native plants regain their footing and provide habitat and food for animals as well as perennial and edible plants for us.

In an article shared recently by Sarah Chandler, (Director of Earth Based Spiritual Practice at Adamah Farm at the Isabella Freedman Center) she demonstrates how to cultivate elderberry plants and make a tincture from it with the Jewish Greening Fellows. (The article is not available online but here are photos of the process.) This dovetailed with some of the knowledge Drake shared with us at the retreat. Drake mentioned making tinctures from other plants we found including goldenrod.

One piece of knowledge passed on by Drake came in handy recently as we toured conservation efforts in Washtenaw County with Legacy Land Trust. [Read more…]

Join the Food, Land and Justice Bus Tour to Detroit

[Members Idelle Hammond-Sass and Carole Caplan have been working with others in the community to organize a bus trip to Detroit and day of learning as part of the Food, Land and Justice grant. They pass along this note with details,  printable flyer and the link to purchase tickets.]
honeyAs part of a year of programing grounded in the Jewish practice of Shmita  you are invited to join with members of the Ann Arbor Jewish community for an exciting visit to Detroit on Sunday September 14, 2014.

So much is happening around the issues of food systems, security, accessibility and affordability in Detroit–let’s take the day to learn about it first-hand! After meeting at the Ann Arbor JCC, we will travel by bus to D-/town Farms, and learn how their work is making important healthy change both personally and communally.

We will then arrive at historic Eastern Market where we will hear from several speakers as to their important roles in the food movement. We will enjoy a healthy lunch and have time to shop the artisans’ market as well. We will study together, laugh together and then brainstorm how we might be part of this important movement moving forward.

Details of  the FOOD, LAND and JUSTICE trip to Detroit:

Space is limited—reserve yours today! Contact Carole Caplan (caplan.carole AT gmail.com), or Idelle Hammond-Sass (Hammond_sass AT msn.com) for more information.

This program is generously funded by a grant from the Jewish Federation of Ann Arbor.