JFarm cultivates environmental consciousness, new friendships

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By Jacqueline Chase
For Mitzpeh
@Mitzpeh

The newly revamped JFarm UMD: A Jewish Green Community is open to all students interested in growing plants and learning about the environment while meeting new people. The farm is located in front of Hillel and grows a variety of plants including kale, lettuce, beets, sage, and arugula.

JFarm is a part of the Campus Garden Collective, a group of several gardens dedicated to helping the environment and educating students about the environment and sustainability.

The JFarm garden sits outside of Hillel and is open to all during gardening hours. Jacqueline Chase/Mitzpeh.

Salvador Fawkes, junior landscape architecture major, is a member of JFarm as well as the Community Learning Garden, another on-campus garden growing foods including tomatoes and basil outside of the School of Public Health. He said that JFarm is organic, meaning it does not use pesticides. He also commented that harvests are given to the school and placed in the Helisa pantry. The farm also donates to local food pantries. Along with a garden, JFarm also composts food scraps from nearby apartments.

The farm started approximately eight years ago and has continued to grow and harvest plants throughout the year. The club has weekly gardening hours open to all on Sundays from 5-6 p.m. and daily watering hours that club members can sign up to do.

“The club has a small handful of committed members, with a larger mix of people who help out and attend the events that interest them,” said Adam Kellner, a senior finance and information systems major. “We have about eight to 10 people who regularly work on the garden, but our educational and social events pull from a larger group of people.”

Arugula growing in the JFarm garden. Jacqueline Chase/Mitzpeh.

JFarm hosts several events throughout the year open to both members and non-members.  This year, JFarm hosted the JFarm Garden Rebuild where attendees helped finish the garden’s summer revamp and met other members, Beyond Borders: Environmental Cooperation, where students from around the world discussed environmental issues and possible solutions, and a Chai Tea Making Party, where members made chai tea lattes and mingled with others.

Kellner and junior government and politics major Anat Berday-Sacks run the club and are open to other members planning events.

“Our club is open to everyone, and aside from Anat and I who run JFarm, members who are more active are encouraged to run their own programming and take up leadership roles within the club,” said Kellner.

Members of other clubs, particularly those in the Campus Garden Collective, also help with JFarm and attend events. The Community Learning Garden, Language House Garden and St. Mary’s Garden are a few of the programs associated with the collective.

Planters at the JFarm garden outside Hillel. Jacqueline Chase/Mitzpeh.

Those who attend JFarm events discuss the environment including news articles they find regarding recycling and the meat industry and chat about college. The club focuses on both helping the earth and socializing with people with similar interests.

St. Mary’s Garden member Monica Martin is a sophomore environmental science major and attended the Chai Tea Making Party with junior landscape architecture major, Audrey Wilke, the leader of St. Mary’s Garden. Both girls stated they enjoyed the event and would attend future JFarm events.

“[The members are] so nice and welcoming,” said Wilke. “I just like going to their events.”

JFarm posts their events, a sign-up schedule for daily watering hours and photographs of their events and garden on their facebook page, JFarm UMD: A Jewish Green Community.

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