Earth Day at the Kavanah Garden

About 20 volunteers came out to help us set up the Kavanah Garden for the 2012 growing season. Together, we re-built and beautified elements of the garden in preparation and anticipation for our last year at this site.

Yup, you heard me, 2012 will be our last year at this site. After four years at 18 Lebovic Campus Drive, we will be moving. The new Kavanah Garden will be directly east of the existing garden.  We will be at the new site for a very long time and are super excited about all the possibilities of growing there. A huge thank you to the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto for continuing to support us.

Back to our Earth Day accomplishments. Here is a list of some of the projects we worked on:

 1.We weeded, tilled and redefined the beds

2. We built new raised beds

 3. We added a shade component to our pergola

4. We painted signs

5.We re-built our rainwater catchment system
6.We built a community information board
7. We cleaned up garbage

8. Most importantly, we appreciated and gave thanks for the beauty and wonder of creation

A special shout out goes to the UJA kind folks that came out for the One Spring Day volunteer event.

Stay tuned for regular updates from the garden! Until then, get ready to plant your peas, spinach, radishes and greens!

Bela Farm Update

During Chol HaMoed, a group of visionaries travelled west from Toronto to Hillsburgh, Ontario to participate in a leadership retreat at Bela Farm. Bela Farm is (will be) a rural centre for sustainable, land-based Judaism in southern Ontario.

Aerial view: Bela Farm

Our intention was to gather information through observing the land that will eventually be incorporated into a map that will guide our planning process.

Our Crew.
Photo credit: Marc Levy

We looked at existing structures and imagined what they might become, we noted prevailing wind directions and how the sun hit the land, we found a spring, we talked to the animals and to the lovely Farmer Cox who has been stewarding the land for decades.

We daydreamed about creating sculptures, orchards, forests, swimming ponds, signs, art installations, chicken coops, a commercial kitchen and even a farm-stand! There is so much potential! And yet, we are committed to taking a "permaculture" approach to the planning, designing and implementation of Bela Farm. Permaculture is a design system based on ethics and design principles which can be used to guide efforts made by individuals, households and communities towards a sustainable future" (

Farmer Cox, his donkey and Jill.
Photo credit: Marc Levy

As such, we are going to spend a few years observing the site before we doing anything drastic. Our hope is that we get to intimately know the natural features of the land and only then design the farm to honour and nurture the inherent qualities of the site. We are committed to improving the environment and producing food and biodiversity and in that, becoming producers of nature rather than solely consumers.

Panorama of Bela Farm.
Photo credit: Marc Levy

Measuring Our Impact

In life, it is often challenging to measure the impact of our actions. Did it really make a difference that I held the door open for that woman? Did my smile brighten someone's day? Did the Shoresh Food Conference really begin to transform the way members of our community think about their food choices? Most of the time, we can only assume that our good deeds bring more goodness into the world. Other times, we get tangible feedback that shows us that our work is really making a difference.

Today we received this amazing email from a Food Conference participant. We hope it makes you as smiley as it made us at the Shoresh Headquarters:

"After the food conference my wife and I decided that by Pesach we would have chickens for our back yard. After many conversations with T.O Chickens on the in’s and outs of raising chickens, this past Monday the first day of Chol Ha’moed, my family traveled 2 hours outside of Toronto to a small family farm and each of my children selected their own chicken.

Over Chol Ha’moed all of the kids on our block (approx. 100) came over feeding the chickens matzah and playing with them. I overheard one of the children saying to another child “dogs and cats are boring, chickens are cool”

Thank you shoresh for having this conference, it has really affected our family for the good.

All the blessings....