Growing Good Work

This summer, not far from Sharon, Massachusetts, hundreds of volunteers with The Gan Shalom Gleaning Project are helping local organic farms bring in the harvest. In exchange, the farmers allow them to gather extra fresh produce for local food banks. And at Temple Israel, also in Sharon, you can find the only synagogue vegetable garden on the South Shore. The vegetables were planted by students from the temple’s school.

Both projects are organized by longtime Temple Israel volunteer Art Newman and funded in part by a South Area Jewish Community Grant from CJP. “It has been a hugely rewarding effort,” Art says. “I applied for the CJP grant because I believed the projects would do good for the community. The Gan Shalom Gleaning Project gets bigger each season, and to continue the temple garden, we’ll need to receive more funding next year.”

What’s in a name?

The Gan Shalom Gleaning Project takes its name in part from Leviticus 19:9-10, when God instructs the Israelites how to harvest their land: “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor.”

 “I’ve been organizing Gan Shalom for the last four growing seasons,” Art says. “I saw that a lot of crops aren’t harvested and distributed to CSA members because the end of the growing season doesn’t produce a consistent quantity of vegetables. That’s where Gan Shalom volunteers come in.”

During the first year, Gan Shalom (which translates to Garden of Peace) had 17 volunteers and picked 700 lbs. of produce. Now, there are more than 100 people of all ages helping out, and thousands of pounds of fresh produce are reaching local food banks to help feed those in need.

“People love the gleaning project because it provides a simple way for everyone to give back,” Art says. “We expect to provide the JF&CS food banks with fruit and produce starting this fall, and we are especially excited to help support the Family Table South Area food bank that will have a Canton office starting on October 18.”

About CJP grants

Each year, CJP funds a wide range of grants for the Greater Boston Jewish community, including the North Shore, Metrowest, and South Area. Support is given to programs, events and initiatives that:

  • foster unity and connection in the Jewish community
  • create partnerships among organizations and institutions
  • promote outreach efforts to engage those currently unaffiliated with the Jewish community
  • build new leadership
  • have a plan for sustainability

From 2011-2015, the South Area Grants Committee in particular has awarded $143,500 to various programs and organizations ranging from film festivals to educational series for seniors, as well as The Gan Shalom Gleaning Project and the garden at Temple Israel.

“The garden and Gan Shalom are a perfect example of a way to engage families, older people and younger people around a common purpose of giving back and doing good work,” says Nancy Kriegel, manager of CJP’s South Area Strategy and Planning Committee. “These projects provide engaging and meaningful opportunities for those who might otherwise not be as connected to the Jewish community.”

“We’re living Jewish values.”

“The work really brings everyone together,” Art says. “Without the CJP grant, I wouldn’t have been able to create the garden and Gan Shalom. Each one is tied to the concept of our responsibility from our Mishnah; the idea that we are our brother’s keeper and we take care of those less fortunate than ourselves. We’re living Jewish values.”

Learn more about Temple Israel’s community garden and The Gan Shalom Gleaning Project. CJP welcomes grant applications for many areas and groups in Greater Boston. Find out about our grants, including South Area Jewish Community Grants


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