Saturday, November 10, 2012

Food Challenge Day 7

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen

Today is the last day of my personal Food Challenge, focusing on and thinking about food and all the issues that came to my mind as a result.

Reflection - action - reflection. This is the process by which I learned the art of being a chaplain. And it is a process that is well suited to learning anything. And so I have been reflecting, and now it is time to turn my thoughts toward action. Yesterday, I spoke about personal actions, at the household level. Each of us can reflect and take action on our own personal food habits and try to make improvements that positively impact us, our community, and our planet. Today, I am thinking about action at the community level. 

Here is my thought. Recently, I learned about Growing Places Garden Project. This non-profit organization, based in Clinton, MA strives 
"to improve the food security and nutrition education of people with limited economic means. We do this by providing vegetable gardens and nutrition education so that people can grow food on their own and become more conscientious about their nutrition.

Our goal is to grow proficient gardeners who maintain their gardens on their own and, through our encouragement and support, continue to grow fresh, healthy food for themselves and their loved ones year after year."
Basically, they build gardens for those struggling with poverty and teach them how to garden. The pluses are many: more food for the hungry, healthy food for them, and gifts to the planet at the same time. It is about giving people a fishing pole and teaching them to fish instead of giving them a fish.

I am newly renewing my efforts and energy at gardening, and loving every minute of it (thanks to inspiration and support from Renee Bolivar of Gardens by Renee and my friends Kaat and Rebecca as well as the resiliency message of Transition). Growing Places Garden Project has a limited geographic area, and Wayland, as well as Framingham and Natick, are outside that area. I would love to find a core group of people who would like to work to get GPGP to extend their project into our area, so that we, too, can help build new gardens, create new gardeners, connect people to the Earth, and feed more people with more good food. 

The words of Rabbi Tarfon come to mind: "It is not upon you to complete the task, but neither are you free to absolve yourself from it." (Pirke Avot 2:21) We do not have to save the whole world, but we also cannot sit idly by, eating everything in sight, eating without realizing how connected we are to the world, throwing away food, and more. Instead, let us understand that eating has the capability of being a form of prayer and strive to make it so. Let us eat thoughtfully and in reasonable quantities. Let us strive to eat in ways that are kind to the planet. Let us engage in meaningful efforts to remove hunger from the world.

I invite you to share your thoughts and ideas about how to help with food issues at the community level, and if you are interested in Growing Places Garden Project or have another idea you'd like to help launch, please be in touch.

Shavua tov -- may your week be filled with many blessings.

P.S. If you want to read one woman's story of her family's summer-long engagement with the Food Stamp Challenge, check out this blog.

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