By Claire Lipson, Shoresh’s Lead Educator (2015)
Throughout the season I have witnessed hundreds of children getting their hands in the garden, sowing seeds and watering plants with excited eyes and big smiles. We explain to school groups that we are growing a garden to learn about nature, to produce food for those in need, and that they are helping us with this mitzvah.
For months children and adults come, play, plant, water, and tend our oasis and a community is formed. Harvest days are some of the best days of the summer. All of the hidden treasures are picked from stems and pulled from the ground and the various shapes, colours, sizes, and bounties are revealed. We explore the herbs, fruits, and vegetables, some heritage varieties and many you just can’t buy in the grocery store. They taste delicious fresh off the stem. People are intrigued by the growing process, witnessing each step of development, not knowing that indeed a tomato plant can grow as tall as a child or that ground cherries come in a shell that look like that of a tomatillo.
I love harvest days because we get to weigh our harvest, an indication of the work of people and land, and because we deliver the harvest to Kehilla Residential Programme. The produce is brought it its final destination, a Jewish social housing residence in North York. We lay out the produce in market style and I explain what each item is and how it can be cooked or processed. It is amazing to meet the people benefit from our labour of love. They express gratitude and excitement to receive fresh organic produce.
From seed to table, I have witnessed the kind exchange of land and people. I would like to send a big thank you to those who have come out to play in the garden, helping us work the land throughout the season. If you are looking for a deeply meaningful Jewish experience, please come and join us at our Drop In at the Kavanah Garden every Wednesday from 3:30-6:30pm.