Nestled in a quiet residential neighborhood in Briarcliff Manor is a unique new venture between a house of worship and its surrounding community: Congregation Sons of Israel’s new 1.5 acre Community Organic Farm. This land had been a farm up until the early 1950s, but had been untended for more than 60 years and was filled with invasive species such as barberry and wisteria. The brush and bramble was a thick tangled mess that reached 10 feet high in spots!
Over the past year, two fields have been cleared, fencing has been erected, and a well and irrigation system have been installed. Spring 2017 was the first planting season for the Congregation Sons of Israel Community Organic Farm. In Field 1, grapes vines (yes, there is wine in the farm’s future!), three types of tomatoes, two types of peppers, two types of radishes, one variety of sweet corn, and two varieties of pumpkin have also been sown. Field 2 is a community garden, where the community both inside and outside the synagogue is welcome to rent and tend a bed for the season. All beds have been rented for 2017. The farm aims to produce enough vegetables and fruit to sell at a Sunday market, to use for synagogue programs, and for donation to a local food bank.
Farm-related programming so far has included family cooking classes as well as a class on pickling. A well-attended recent “Ecology of Judaism” talk with Rabbi Steven Kane was followed by gardening and a breakfast made with eggs gathered from the farm’s ten hens. The Congregation Sons of Israel religious and nursery schools have also tied their studies to life on the farm, with activities such as maple sugaring and learning about Judaism’s connection to the land. Most recently the students decorated bird houses that now dot the trees on the farm. In other educational opportunities, an internship this summer will allow a future farmer to help with the planting, harvesting, scheduling, and crop management. There is even room for the intern to pursue an individual project such as bee keeping, community education, working with flowers, and more.
Congregation Sons of Israel’s Community Organic Farm is growing, and it welcomes neighbors from the surrounding area to grow with it through its programming, gardening, and produce sales.
Congregation Sons of Israel is located at 1666 Pleasantville Road in Briarcliff Manor, NY. For more information visit Congregation Sons of Israel’s website at http://www.csibriarcliff.org/farm/ or visit the Farm’s Facebook page at http://facebook.com/csifarm/
Written by: Dara Mirsky (Congregation Sons of Israel)