For the first time in decades, Jewish farmers from all over North America and Israel will be convening at the Leichtag Foundation property in Encinitas today through Tuesday to share best practices and discuss emerging opportunities in the growing field of Jewish community farming.
“The Jewish people are historically farmers” said Leichtag Foundation CEO Jim Farley. “This gathering demonstrates that a new Jewish farming movement is thriving.”
This convening, known as the Jewish Community Farmer Advisory Committee, comes on the heels of the Jewish Outdoor, Food, and Environmental Education (JOFEE) report, released in March 2014, which indicated a growing movement of Jewish experiences centered around outdoor, food, and environmental education.
Nearly 30 individuals representing 15 organizations will be in attendance. Notable organizations include Hazon (CT), Eden Village (NY), Ekar (CO), Boulder JCC (CO), Pearlstone Center (MD), Jewish Farm School (PA), Urban Adamah (Berkeley, CA), Netiya (Los Angeles, CA), Shoresh (Canada), and Kaima Farm (Israel).
One of the featured presenters of the convening is the Jim Joseph Foundation, which is supportive of several organizations represented in the JOFEE report.
“Bringing together leaders of key organizations to share knowledge and to learn from experts is an important step in advancing and beginning to professionalize this emerging field,” said Chip Edelsberg, Executive Director of the Jim Joseph Foundation. “Our mission is to create new and dynamic Jewish learning opportunities, and JOFEE has evidenced significant potential in this area. Young adults in particular, as detailed in the JOFEE report, are attracted to these experiences as a way to engage in Jewish life and learning.”
There is a deep history of Jewish farming in North America. From 1880-1920, Jewish immigrants came to America and began farming. During this time, Jewish farming communities were developed with the support of the Baron de Hirsch Fund. The Jewish Agricultural Society in America formed in 1900 to support this movement. After World War II, agriculture changed and organized Jewish farming began to dissipate. This convening marks the rebirth of Jewish community farming.
“We see this as the beginning of many gatherings” said Daron “Farmer D” Joffe, Director of Agricultural Innovation for the Leichtag Foundation. “We want to help advance the field by being a place to gather and learn.”
The Leichtag Foundation purchased the former Paul Ecke Ranch in Encinitas, CA in December 2012; it is a 67.5 acre property that amplifies the strategic focus areas of the Foundation and is a nexus to bring them all together.