About 105 Jewish college students will be utilizing their spring and summer breaks working on organic farms around the US for a week in six different sessions on the east and west coasts. At the same time, they will learn about food sustainability, Jewish agricultural laws, medicinal herbs, global food security and the growing food justice movement within the Jewish and secular worlds. This in a program, run by Jewish Farm School, with offices in New York and Philadelphia and co-sponsored by Hillel, which intends to give students a greater understanding of the complex issues involving sustainable food production.
Students will leave with a greater understanding of the complex issues surrounding sustainable food production and the necessary skills, knowledge and resources to affect positive change in their communities and on their campuses.
The Jewish Farm School was formally established in 2005 and sprouted out of a shared vision by its founders to develop educational programming that would foster opportunities for Jews to reconnect with the processes of working the land and growing food. The shared vision consists of a dream of one-day establishing a school that would enroll students who are seeking alternative modes of education. In doing so, the learning would entail farming, animal husbandry, natural building and Jewish learning as well as achieve the necessary requirements for accreditation.
To achieve this dream JFS decided to start small. In 2006, with the help of a mini-grant from Hazon's New York Jewish Environmental Bike Ride, they partnered with the Teva Learning Center on their annual Seminar. In 2007 JFS grew in size to two programs and the first ever edition of a 16-month calendar for sale on their website.
Last summer, there were four farm trips in collaboration with Hillel with 75 students, and this year the school is running six spring and summer trips for 105 students. JFS’s next project is to create an educational farm at Eden Village Camp in Putnam Valley, N.Y. The camp is located on land owned by UJA-Federation of New York, about an hour north of New York City.