Jewish Urban Farm Takes Root In California

When the first Israeli Kibbutz was founded in 1909, many theorized that it would never last. By 1940, the fraternity of Jewish farms had risen just over 80, propelling sustainability (and Zionism) to new levels. More than one-hundred years later, similar projects have materialized in America with Jewish community gardens taking root in the San Fransisco Bay Area.

Nestled in the urban overhang of Berkeley, California, an abundant utopia of free range animals and eco-friendly gardens buzz with excitement. Young children from the local Jewish community dig their hands into the soil as Adam Berman teaches them the importance of caring for God’s creation. 

In a recent article, Kimberly Tomicich, a 24 year old Urban Adamah member shared, “I began to see Judaism as an environmental religion, as a religion that speaks to all these values I have about connectedness to the Earth and connectedness to the fate of humanity”

The 2.2 acre parcel also provides enough food to nourish thousands of needy people in the area every week. Never have I seen a more compelling response to Prophet Jeremiah’s statement, “Happier were the victims of the sword than the victims of hunger, who pined away, stricken by want of the yield of the field" (Lamentations 4:9).

Urban Farm In Berkeley Mixes Jewish Spirituality, Agriculture

By Thomas Walden Levy for SFGATE 

A pledge of $100,000 for the naming rights on a chicken coop? Yes. That, plus a loan of $800,000 from First Republic Bank of San Francisco, is helping a very different kind of communal farm find a permanent home in Berkeley — a city where undeveloped land is at a premium.

In December 2013, less than a year after launching the search for a home, the farm, Urban Adamah, closed a $2.1 million deal on a 2.2-acre site at Sixth and Harrison streets in the industrial northwest sector of the city.

“Our supporters and friends saw a once-in-a-generation opportunity in this piece of property, the largest undeveloped parcel available in Berkeley at that time,” said Adam Berman, 43, founder and executive director of Urban Adamah, and an MBAgraduate of UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.

Berman started Urban Adamah (adamah is the Hebrew word for ground or earth) in 2010 to blend agriculture with education, altruism and Jewish spirituality.

Since the farm’s birth on a borrowed asphalt acre full of raised beds in South Berkeley, its bountiful weekly harvest of vegetables and eggs has fed thousands of needy people from a free farm stand, as well as through local food banks and churches. Last year, the farm gave away 15,000 pounds of food and also hosted 10,000 visitors, most from local schools and synagogues.

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