Taking Root in the Jewish CSA Movement

Kosher, local and yummy.

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Growing, Locally

In just five years, Tuv Ha’Aretz has expanded from one farm and one partnering synagogue in New York City to 32 communities at synagogues, Jewish Community Centers and Jewish day schools across the country, as well as in Canada and Israel. In 2008, Tuv Ha’Aretz’s 1,700 households (representing thousands of members) contributed more than $560,000 in revenue to local farmers. Those numbers are expected to significantly increase in 2009. 

Through their involvement in Tuv Ha’Aretz, members have the opportunity to engage with their local community, while linking into a national network of Jewish CSA members and sustainable food enthusiasts. “The Tuv Ha’Aretz network is a great support team,” said Treuhaft, who coordinates Tuv Ha’Aretz Portland.” Tuv Ha’Aretz Queens coordinator, Hilla Abel said that she appreciates knowing that her community’s CSA is part of a national Jewish movement. 
In many cases, the Tuv Ha’Aretz community’s partnership with their farm has also been transformational--both for members and for the farmer. During the summer of 2008, the members of Tuv Ha’Aretz Chicago began to notice fertilized blood spots in the eggs their farmer brought--a natural occurrence that results when free range hens and roosters are kept in the same area. While blood spots indicate a normal, healthy life for a chicken, they are a kashrut no-no. 

When the CSA coordinators mentioned the issue to their farmer, Vicki Westerhoff of Genesis Growers, they assumed nothing could be done. But the next week, Westerhoff arrived with 19 dozen eggs from hens that she had segregated from the rooster. The hens were just as happy, Westerhoff said, and kosher members’ got spot-free eggs. “I never could have walked into a grocery store and asked for this,” said CSA coordinator, Cara Gutstein. But in a very simple conversation with a generous, open-minded farmer, I did--and the story had a happy ending.”

If you're interested in joining or beginning a Jewish CSA in your community, contact Tuv Ha'aretz. Other CSAs can be located through Local Harvest

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Leah Koenig

Leah Koenig is a freelance writer whose work has been published in The New York Times Magazine, Gastronomica, Jewish Living, Lilith, Culinate, Beliefnet and other publications.