Its size, infrastructure and the organizers’ approach to planting crops for the entire farm, rather than letting individual gardeners plant their own plots, make it more like a small farm than a community garden.
By Suzanne King
Oct 4, 2016
The Mitzvah Garden, a volunteer-run community garden housed on land owned by the temple, has transformed a suburban lot into fertile ground that annually yields some 10,000 pounds of vegetables for area food pantries.
The bounty of the garden, which measures three-quarters of an acre, includes tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, onions, squash, potatoes and more. Bees buzz around rows of sunflowers. And purple martins feast on insects while making their home in four whitewashed gourds that dangle overhead.
Today the garden boasts a sophisticated water-capturing structure that feeds a solar-powered irrigation system. But when the garden was founded in 2010, it was merely a vague idea conjured up by a banker, a psychiatrist and a marriage counselor.
“We had all this land, and we were doing nothing with it,” said Andrew Kaplan, the banker in that founding group, who was then president of the B’nai Jehudah congregation. “We started asking, ‘What could we do that would be socially responsible and make a difference?’”