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A Southern Jewish Farmer?!

Photo credit: Jessie Gladdek

Questions that I’ve heard many times (mainly from other Jews, to be clear): Southern Jews? Jewish Farmers?? SOUTHERN JEWISH FARMERS?!? Hi, yes, nice to meet you, Chag Sameach. I am a southern Jewish farmer, and I started One Soil Farm, a Jewish community farm in rural North Carolina, 20 minutes (and 30 years) away from where I grew up as one of the only Jewish kids in our public school system (shout out to my li’l sis).

I first heard the term “Jewish farming” eight years ago, and at the time it was a revelation to me, too. A Google search led me to the Adamah Fellowship, with its video of young Jews standing in a circle on a mountain, singing in Hebrew. I wept at my computer. Then I packed myself up, moved across the country, arrived at Adamah for their summer fellowship, and didn’t leave for three years. Now, eight years after that Google search, I’m back home in North Carolina building a Jewish farm in the town where I grew up. You could say Jewish farming changed my life.

So . . . what is a Jewish farm? And what does being Jewish have to do with my farming? What does farming have to do with my Judaism? And—what’s more–what could being a Jewish farmer have to do with intergenerational healing?

Let’s talk about putting down roots. 

Or, rather, let’s start with a Jewish holiday about nature that falls in the middle of winter here in North America (Happy Tu B’Shvat!).