Garden and CSA Shares
Jake Jarecki farms a plot at Bet Shalom for Feed-Me Farms.
What is going on with that plot of land just behind Bet Shalom’s front entrance? Hear all about it from Farmer Jake Jarecki!
In Autumn of 2019 the Bet Shalom Board of Trustees accepted my proposal to utilize the back lot behind the building for a new purpose — as an organic food producing farm plot. Since then I have grown, sold, and donated thousands of pounds of food as Feed-Me Farms, an officially licensed farm with the state of Minnesota.
I grew up a member of Bet Shalom, originally joining when our family moved to the Twin Cities from Madison in 1997. That first year of religious school at the old building in Hopkins (age 7) I made some friendships that have lasted until this very day, and some unfortunately that have not. I chose to name the farm “Feed-Me” after my dearest of all childhood friends and Bet Shalom member, Andrew Jaffee (after a nickname this chubby boy received from our gym teacher in 2nd grade). Andrew passed away in 2018, and his loss was devastating to our community. Since that time I have tried to take his advice to follow my dreams, and farming has helped me turn his memory into something new and alive.
Feed-Me Farms is in its second growing season, with a healthy level of growth since last year. My approach to farming is to utilize otherwise wasted lawns in the western metro region, replacing grass with vegetables. Last year I grew on two plots, at Bet Shalom and at a small lot in Hopkins. This year two more plots have been added, a smaller one in Plymouth and a substantial new space at Bethlehem Lutheran Church on Minnetonka Blvd. The community at Bethlehem is very excited to build a new bridge between our two congregations through this shared venture of creatively using their land. Congregants from the church and synagogue have joined the CSA program this year, and they have expressed interest in working together to volunteer in the garden this summer.
My favorite part of last season was reconnecting with Bet Shalomians after over a decade of living out of state. Reacquainting myself with the Rabbis, staff, students, and congregation has been so beneficial to me, especially in a pandemic year. Meeting and getting to know CSA customers each week for their Sunday produce pickups was so rewarding — we were building community from the ground up. Getting re-involved at Bet Shalom now as an adult has really been great… my love for food has translated into leading a Jewish Cooking chug, as well as being an in-house chef for religious school on Wednesdays before Covid hit. I look forward to getting together back in person soon to learn, grow, cook, and eat all together!