Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tuv Ha'Aretz

For the past several months I've been involved with the planning committee for Tuv Ha'Aretz, a new Jewish organization in Portland that connects Jews with agriculture, sustainability, food, and Jewish traditions. This week we are officially launching our Web site. I invite all of you in Portland who are interested in these issues to check us out, or even become a member (it's a nominal fee of $5/individual and $10/family). Also, please spread the word about Tuv Ha'Aretz to anyone you know who might be interested.

Here's our official news release. Pardon my self-quoting.

March 11, 2009


(Portland, Ore.) — Several Jewish organizations and a local farmer have teamed up with Hazon, a New York-based organization dedicated to a healthier and more sustainable Jewish community, to participate in Hazon’s Tuv Ha’Aretz program. The first Jewish program of its kind, Tuv Ha’Aretz brings synagogues, Jewish community centers and other Jewish organizations together with local farmers to support sustainable agriculture and Jewish environmental education.

Havurah Shalom, Congregation Neveh Shalom, the Mittleman Jewish Community Center and Sauvie Island Organics have come together to create the Portland chapter of Tuv Ha’Aretz, which translates as both “good for the land” and “best of the land.” Portland Tuv Ha’Aretz offers a variety of ways to combine interest in sustainably grown, healthy food with Jewish ethics and values. Among its program offerings, Portland Tuv Ha’Aretz gives people the opportunity to join Sauvie Island Organics’ CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. The CSA provides its members with weekly boxes of freshly picked produce throughout the growing season; in turn, members of the CSA support local, sustainable agriculture through their membership dollars.

“Portland is a major focal point in the sustainable and local food movement,” said Elizabeth Schwartz, a member of the Portland Tuv Ha’Aretz planning committee. “Many members of the Jewish community here already support local CSAs and shop at farmers’ markets, so it makes perfect sense to link Portlanders’ interest in food issues with programs that incorporate Jewish values.” “Judaism is an agricultural religion in its roots,” adds Havurah Shalom’s Education Director, Deborah Eisenbach-Budner, “so it’s really exciting to be able to reclaim some of that.”

Joining Sauvie Island Organics’ CSA is one component of Tuv Ha’Aretz. In addition, members of Portland Tuv Ha’Aretz will be able to choose from a variety of programs, including yearly visits to Sauvie Island Organics farm; movie nights featuring food-oriented films and discussions; weekly newsletters with recipes and short articles about the connections among Judaism, food and agriculture; workshops on growing and eating your own locally raised food; family-oriented hands-on programs for kids and adults; and text study that illuminates the ancient roots of Jews’ relationship to food and how those connections inform our food choices today.

Membership in Portland Tuv Ha’Aretz is open to everyone.

Tuv Ha’Aretz is the first Jewish Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) program in North America and includes the first CSA in Israel, with a current total of 32 sites internationally. Founded in 2004, by 2008, Tuv Ha’Aretz had more than 2,700 individual members and raised over $600,000 in membership to support local farms. This year, Portland joins eleven other new Tuv Ha’Aretz chapters across the country and in Israel.

Hazon, which means “vision,” is a non-profit that works to create a healthier and more sustainable Jewish community and a healthier and more sustainable world. Best known for its series of Jewish Environmental Bike Rides in New York and Israel, Hazon is at the forefront of an emerging national movement at the intersection of food and Jewish life. Hazon’s food work includes Tuv Ha’Aretz; an annual Food Conference for chefs, farmers, educators, and food enthusiasts; Min Ha’Aretz, a day school food curriculum for children and parents on issues of food, health, and Jewish life; Challah for Hunger, whose chapters bake and sell challah to raise awareness of and money for poverty and disaster relief work; and The Jew & The Carrot: a blog about Jews, food and contemporary food issues. For more information on Hazon, visit www.hazon.org.

For more information on Portland Tuv Ha’Aretz, visit www.portlandtuv.org.

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