December 18, 2014   26 Kislev 5775
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Gan Tikvah - Garden of Hope
Mar. 14, 2011
Interfaith partnership to create a food-producing garden and fresh produce donation initiative.

Community Contact Information:
Temple Shalom of Aberdeen
Aberdeen, NJ
http://templeshalomnj.org

Goals:

  • To provide fresh vegetables for the hungry in the local community
  • To involve other houses of worship (a Conservative synagogue and a United Methodist Church) in this project
  • To involve congregants of all ages from all three houses of worship

Overview:
Synagogue partnered with a local Conservative congregation and Methodist church to grow fresh produce for the local food bank.

Preparation:
A planning committee was formed to execute the project and committee members approached representatives from the Conservative synagogue and Methodist Church, both of whom were excited to join the project and recruit more volunteers. The project began with a core group of experienced gardeners and enlisted a local gardening expert to provide further advice. Temple Shalom of Aberdeen advertised the project to its members through fliers and synagogue newsletter articles.

Committee members chose a relatively flat space with appropriate sunshine and fell within the area of the existing sprinkler system. They solicited donations of plants from local farms and donations of soil, mulch and wood chips from congregants and others in that business. To make it more accessible for young and elderly volunteers, the garden beds were raised.

The synagogue’s Facilities Committee and Social Action Committee helped finance the purchase of lumber and hardware to build proper enclosures for raised beds, fences and gates.  

Project Implementation: 
The planning committee worked with volunteers from all three houses of worship by holding monthly planning meetings at the synagogue. Volunteers of all ages helped build the fence and gate, till the soil, lay weed barrier cloth and plant seeds. Weekly schedules were implemented for weeding, harvesting and delivering the produce to the food bank.

Results:
The food bank and its recipients were very appreciative for all the fresh produce, including the overabundance of tomatoes! All of the volunteers from the three houses of worship learned about their commonalities, especially the shared values of environmentalism and food justice.

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