Bela Farm Update

During Chol HaMoed, a group of visionaries travelled west from Toronto to Hillsburgh, Ontario to participate in a leadership retreat at Bela Farm. Bela Farm is (will be) a rural centre for sustainable, land-based Judaism in southern Ontario.

Aerial view: Bela Farm
Our intention was to gather information through observing the land that will eventually be incorporated into a map that will guide our planning process.

Our Crew.
Photo credit: Marc Levy

We looked at existing structures and imagined what they might become, we noted prevailing wind directions and how the sun hit the land, we found a spring, we talked to the animals and to the lovely Farmer Cox who has been stewarding the land for decades.

We daydreamed about creating sculptures, orchards, forests, swimming ponds, signs, art installations, chicken coops, a commercial kitchen and even a farm-stand! There is so much potential! And yet, we are committed to taking a “permaculture” approach to the planning, designing and implementation of Bela Farm. Permaculture is a design system based on ethics and design principles which can be used to guide efforts made by individuals, households and communities towards a sustainable future” (

Farmer Cox, his donkey and Jill.
Photo credit: Marc Levy

As such, we are going to spend a few years observing the site before we doing anything drastic. Our hope is that we get to intimately know the natural features of the land and only then design the farm to honour and nurture the inherent qualities of the site. We are committed to improving the environment and producing food and biodiversity and in that, becoming producers of nature rather than solely consumers.

Panorama of Bela Farm.
Photo credit: Marc Levy
© 2018 Shoresh.