When we gather in community, what we eat has the potential to promote animal welfare, stop climate change and build healthier food systems. This and other lasting social change requires both a commitment to an important idea and a willingness to do the work. But the work isn’t only digging out a plot for a community garden, tending crops, building out a composting infrastructure or contracting with a local farmer to arrange for CSA drop-offs. Many times, those are the easy jobs.

The work can include: getting buy-in from members of your community and finding other lay leaders who want to lead the charge with you; establishing a relationship with your community’s green team/committee—or building one yourself; preparing and then presenting your research to your board of directors or other oversight body; negotiating your vision with the other stakeholders in your community to fit the budget they can allocate; and, finally, launching your garden/food policy/CSA/compost program.

And that’s just getting started!

On March 24 at the Jewish Climate Action Network Conference, please join Beantown Jewish Gardens in doing the work. We’ll gather in community across generations and denominations. We look forward to rich conversation, networking opportunities and food to nourish body and soul!

  • Jill Hahn of Temple Israel, David Wilensky of Shaarei Tefillah and veteran Jewish educator and master urban gardener Leann Shamash will be leading the panel “Food Sustainability at the Synagogue” to uncover the lessons they learned as they worked toward a sustainable food infrastructure and how those lessons can help your community.
  • Beantown Jewish Gardens and Jewish Initiative for Animals will present “Beyond Kashrut and Being the Change” as part of an educational series, Ta’amim Tovim, that is building a community invested in ethical food purchasing, consumption and waste disposal in Greater Boston. Regardless of previous knowledge, participants will gain tools for creating food policies (commitments to sourcing better food as an ongoing practice) and how they can change the way our communities eat and farm.
  • And in the kitchen we’ll be working with local chefs to prepare an ethically sourced, vegan, kosher dinner. Join Diana Goldman of Beantown Kitchen for “The Plant-Based Food Industry: Explosive Growth, Popular Trends and Current Controversy.” Diana will explore the growth of consumers’ interest in plant-based food, what the current trends are and how the dairy and meat industries are responding.


But wait…what do we mean by “ethical sourcing” for this event, and what does that mean in general in New England in late March? We have been hosting the Boston Jewish Food Conference every spring for the past seven years and it seems as if creating a menu that is kosher and vegan is the easy part. The hard work begins when we ask: What is available fresh for us? How can we support our local farms and businesses at this time of year? How can we feed 100-plus people in such a way that respects our shared values and stays within the confines of our budget? Perhaps most importantly, where does it make sense to compromise? We believe the answers we’ve arrived at will be both delicious and thought-provoking.

The reality is that we wouldn’t be able to do any of this well if it weren’t for the generosity of our sponsors. We are grateful for the support of these businesses:

  • Fresh Box Farms, a kosher, hydroponic farm in Millis that’s making a locally sourced salad in late winter possible.
  • Follow Your Heart, because what’s a salad without a dressing?
  • Dean’s Beans, an organic, kosher, fair-trade coffee company in Orange that uses coffee as a vehicle for progressive social change.

See you on March 24 for helpful lessons, thoughtful discussion and delicious food!


Note: This post originally appeared on the Beantown Jewish Gardens website.

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