2010 Garden

In the Beginning…

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In addition to tomato, pepper and parsley seeds now growing in congregant greenhouses, we’ve planted metaphorical seeds, and a bountiful harvest is well on its way.  Announced just as the cold months arrived, dozens of volunteers have already tilled, fertilized, balanced and blessed the soil from which numerous edible and educational plantings will soon emerge.  A whole lay-led Garden structure has developed, with coordinators spearheading subgroups working on vegetables, herbs, biblical species, composting, tikun olam, and educational content.

In addition to vegetable seeds, we’ve planted metaphorical seeds, and a bountiful harvest is well on its way.  Announced just as the cold months arrived, dozens of volunteers have already tilled, fertilized, balanced and blessed the soil from which numerous edible and educational plantings will soon emerge.  A whole lay-led Garden structure has developed, with coordinators spearheading subgroups working on vegetables, herbs, biblical species, composting, tikun olam, and educational content.

This Fall, two dozen energetic Adat Shalomers of all ages broke ground on the two 16′x20′ plots just beyond the Social Hall patio, tilling the soil and mixing in horse manure as fertilizer, relocating sod, and getting things ready for the spring.

And on a snowy Tu B’Shvat, just after we gave our new on-site composter its first rotation,Fred Pinkney sprinkled some sulfur over the garden, a first step toward adjusting the pH level of the soil.  Twenty pounds more would be added after the mountains of snow finally melted.  Kids received seedlings to nurture on their own then transplant into theMishnahGarden come springtime, as well as parsley seeds to grow for their own Pesach seders.

On March 20th,  gold-ribboned pitchfork in hand, Rabbi Fred blessed the new garden with many members singing along — a real ‘Shehecheyanu’ moment.Fred Pinkneygot everyone to work with a new planting board handmade by Sandy Perlstein.

Lots of people chipped in to make raised beds and tomato cages in the weeks before the opening.  Volunteers also helped move flagstone and dig the path toward the ampitheater, so we can start to make better eco-use of every corner of our grounds.

Volunteers from all walks of Adat Shalom life are working, learning, and teaching in the garden.  The name of the Garden is intentional:  we will continue to use the Garden to educate the community about every stratum of Jewish text, from the Mishnah to the Zionist writings of A.D. Gordon.

Speakers, some from the bimah on Shabbat and some in special forums, will highlight both the social justice (donating produce to low-income communities) and the ecological (local and organic) implications of our Garden.   Gordon Clark fromMontgomeryVictoryGardentalked about how to plant a garden for those in need.  Kim Damion from Manna soup kitchen explained about the need for fresh vegetables among the low income.  On a more philosophical level, Rabbi Fred, along iwthJakir Manelaof Kayam Farm, discussed the intersection of agriculture and Torah at Shavout, along with several members who discussed the cycles of the moon and agricultural cycles.

We increasingly use the Garden as a vehicle to give people practical tools to improve their interaction with Earth’s resources.  On Lag B’omer we had people giving rainbarrel workshops, explaining how to join Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), and how to grow a garden in a small space.  On Shavout, we had congregants talk about how to make eating choices that are good for them and good for the planet.

Besides herbs and vegetables (grown both for the poor and for our communal oneg lunches), the community, including torah school classes, pre-torah school toddlers, and community members of all ages have planted holiday foods, including wheat for Shabbat challah and matzah (we are considering going to Kayam Farm next Passover to learn how to turn wheat into matzah),  potatoes for Lag B’Omer bonfires, and parsley and horseradish for Passover.  Julie Glass and Max Brandy coordinated lessons for the children to coincide with the plantings.

To further underscore our agricultural roots, we planted several of the ‘seven biblical species’ – including figs, dates, olives, grapes, wheat, and pomegranate — many in movable planters that we can bring inside during the chilly weather.  At Lag B’omer, the youngest children in our congregation decorated one of our planters to represent grapes.  In the fall, the torah school classes — and the torah school board — will decorate the other boxes.  In the Fall, we will develop programming around the biblical species in addition to bringing the community together to create a biblical themed mosaic for the synagogue’s entrance.

All plantings are fertilized with compost from our new composter.  Thanks to Julie Farkas and Tim Bartol,  the oneg crew has made composting “part of the meal.”  On a weekly basis, the oneg crew composts its preparation wastes.   Congregants are welcome to bring vegetable and fruit peels whenever they come to the synagogue.

We are discussing ways to expand the garden both at Adat Shalom and at Ward Church in Anacostia, as an outgrowth of our Passover eco-justice program.

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