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Natural Awakenings Westchester / Putnam / Dutchess New York

A Community Farm Grows in Briarcliff Manor: The setting aims to inspire and allows members to connect in formal and informal ways.

Jun 29, 2017 01:04PM

Congregation Sons of Israel gardens

At the busy 1.5-acre farm behind the Congregation Sons of Israel synagogue in Briarcliff Manor, food is a big focus. But community is an even bigger one. The CSI Community Organic Farm doesn’t just grow produce; it also provides a peaceful space where people can gather and engage, says Dara Mirsky, a farm committee member. “The setting amidst trees, including sugar maples that have been tapped to make syrup, aims to inspire and allows members to connect in formal and informal ways.”

Gathering spaces and programs developed around the farm provide opportunities for the community at large. For instance, in addition to drilling a well for irrigation this year, CSI members built a symbolic wishing well where visitors can write wishes on rocks and toss them in.

“The farm and associated programs will help bring forth many important Jewish traditions and values related to ecology, agriculture, nutrition, healing and health, well-being, spiritual connection, social and environmental justice and the benefits of physical work,” Mirsky says.

In the first of the farm’s two fields, vegetables, grapes, fruit trees, berries and flowers are grown for sale at the CSI Sunday Organic Market (open most Sundays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.); for synagogue programs; and for donation to a local food bank. The second field holds community growing beds (fully rented for the 2017 season). The farm also has 10 chickens, whose eggs are for sale at the Sunday market.

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