Of all the Jewish agricultural wisdom and traditions that I get to share with others, teaching about holidays, and in particular Shavuot, is my favorite. All the holidays have a connection to the land; whatever we eat during a given holiday is the crop that was ready to be harvested at that time in that region. The holiday of Shavuot, however, has the most connection – to the land, agricultural practices, and the farmers.
Shavuot is a holiday that is known for the giving of Torah on Mount Sinai, studying all night, eating dairy, and (if you celebrate with the Israeli community) going on hay rides. However, the one piece that most people forget about is the farmers and the land. This agricultural festival celebrates the start of the wheat and end of the barley seasons (the two crops that help create our basic food – flour), and giving praise to the land and the farmers who helped make it happen.
The Jewish people have a long history with agriculture – they (we) were tasked with keeping and maintaining the land, and even after a long exile from the land of Israel, when they came back to that region, they got right back into working the land. And what’s incredible, is that while most of these Jews weren’t farmers, they knew that their connection to the land is the key to keeping them nourished – both in mind and body. They knew that patience, persistence, and gratitude will pay off in the end, not only because they will be able to harvest and eat what has been growing, but also because they will be able to thank their fellow farmers and the land which the food came from, and that type of appreciation stays with someone for a long time.
It is true that the plant, in all its wondrous and mysterious ways, does most of the growing and producing of the food on its own – with the help of sun, soil, and water. The farmer, however, is needed to aid in the process – to be sure the weeds and pests don’t take over the plant, that the plant is getting just the right amount of water and healthy soil, and to harvest the fruit and vegetable at its peak, so that it has the most beneficial nutrients and delicious taste to give to its recipient.
Here at Coastal Roots Farm, everyone has stepped in to help in this process. We know that during this time of COVID-19, many people are hungry and lacking access to affordable fresh, local produce, and thus all of us on the team are now helping in the distribution and production tasks, to ensure that more food is harvested and distributed to those in our community, who are in need of this type of nourishment.
Adam, our Farm Manager, has a sticker on his laptop that reads “When you sit down to eat a meal, thank a farmer.” Shavuot reminds us that while we all can grow in small containers in our homes, it is the farmer and the land they work on that continues to feed us, and for that, we should be thankful.
Written by Sharone Oren, Education Manager at Coastal Roots Farm