Shabbat Inspirations May 21st

This week has been hot and (it’s already) dry. Again, I’m worried about drought, and my plants, and the long term sustainability of people and planet. My cycle of the seasons seems to include worrying about drought, learning about drought, and teaching about drought. Here’s my new favorite animation video that explains the classifications of drought and shows how decision makers use a variety of data points to assess the drought conditions across the United States.

In 2016, I spent the growing season working at Powisset Farm in Dover and wrote about my experience in the dust bowl learning about different irrigation techniques. In summer 2020, for the JVGB, I wrote this about our (then) drought and how best to water ones garden.

This time of year in New England growing is about hardening off, and planting, tending and growing – which includes attention to soil moisture and watering. Last week in my email I reflected on preventing transplant shock, and this week I feel the shock of the weather change myself. I worry that the cilantro and spinach might “bolt” from the heat, and send up a flower to produce seeds, making them taste bitter, and arguably inedible.

In the midst of this springtime cycle of watering and tending the growing seedlings, we just celebrated Shavuot and the giving of the Torah. Our tradition teaches that all Jews were at Mount Sinai to receive the Torah, both those who had recently left slavery in Egypt, as well as the souls of all those who would be born in the future.

Woven into the Jewish narrative is an ethic of sustainability, of caring for the next generation. We see it in our agricultural law that mandates we leave sections of our crops for the poor, widow, and strangers in our midst. Our agricultural laws formed the basis of our ancient social support network.

The definition of sustainability is the ability to meet one’s needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. While our food aid network looks different today, as gardeners, paying attention to the health of the soil is part of caring for the next generation of people, plants and planet. With the Brigade, we consider growing food to be a community building endeavor and gain inspiration from all our members who are making the effort to learn!

I hope you’re keeping your plants fed and happy, those that love the heat and those that don’t. 

Answer key:
A- Garlic
B- Raspberries
C- Rhubarb

P.S. – I recently joined Miriam Anzovin and special guest co-host Jesse Ulrich of Pod4Good for a Vibe of the Tribe podcast recording to talk dirt on Judaism’s ecological backstory. I cover how Shabbat and sacred rest underpins Jewish environmentalism, the importance of sustainable farming and food justice, our pivot to launch the Jewish Volunteer Gardening Brigade during the pandemic, and how you can get involved in larger efforts right here in the greater Boston Jewish community.

You can listen to the podcast here (no need to create a login or download any app).