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How does your JCC garden grow?

In 2010, JCC Association launched JCC Grows as part of Discover @ the JCC. This wellness project was created in partnership with First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move efforts to combat childhood obesity and the White House’s Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

JCC Association was the first faith-based organization to register gardens as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s People’s Garden initiative. JCC Grows is a healthy food and hunger-relief initiative involving the creation and/or expansion of community gardens at JCCs and JCC camps that includes donating produce to an emergency food provider to help those in need.

garden Sid Jacobson“Gardens are a win-win. They connect people with the wonder and enjoyment of nature, teach about where our food comes from, promote healthy, nutritious eating and encourage communal, multi-generational programming,” says Barbara Lerman-Golomb, director of institutional giving, who was overseeing JCC Grows. “In addition, since 2011 JCC Grows has helped our JCC communities address food justice issues by sharing their produce with under-served populations.”

JCC Grows also promotes fresh food collection drives and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs and farmers markets. The program also fits into our Sheva and CATCH goals and the “Take it Home Connection” piece—to encourage healthier lifestyles for children by promoting good nutrition and physical activity, Jewish learning, and social justice values.

When JCC Association took on the First Lady’s Let’s Move challenge, we committed to involve a third of JCCs and camps in fresh food access projects within three years. We have more than exceeded that. Check out some of our garden photos below, and watch this video from The Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto, California, one of 20 JCCs that has received a JCC Grows mini grant made possible through The Robert Sillins Family Foundation.

We want to thank Barbara for overseeing JCC Grows and creating such a successful way of connecting so many ideals that JCCs value. We are sad to say that Barbara is leaving JCC Association, but wish her well in all her future endeavors.

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  1. The Peninsula Jewish Community Center (PJCC, located in Foster City, CA — our listing in this terrific article inaccurately lists our location) is incredibly proud to participate in the JCC Grows program.

    Our aptly named Grow Justice Garden (Gan Tzedek) was generously funded by the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund’s North Peninsula Regional Impact Grant. To date we have delivered thousands of pounds of fresh, organic produce to a local family shelter operated by our program partners, Life Moves — serving the needs of 200 adults and children working hard to stabilize their lives and move from homelessness to self sufficiency.

    In this same outdoor space, our 1,560 square foot Grow Justice Mural stands alongside the Justice Garden and invites study, interpretation, and discussion — much like the Torah scrolls it represents. This community art experience engaged 745 community members, and was facilitated by the incomparable muralist, fine artist, and PJCC artist-in-residence Jay Wolf Schlossberg-Cohen. The Grow Justice Mural is divided into five sections, representing the five Books of Moses; the four outer sections are open Torah scrolls and the fifth, middle section is the closed Torah — reflecting humanity’s call to action. The mural panels explore humanity’s critical, modern themes: environmental stewardship, human rights and dignity, economic justice, and food justice. The mural’s vision and development was generously funded by The Koret Foundation and Taube Philanthropies.

    Everyday our community is sowing the seeds of justice for people in need. When you are in the San Francisco Bay Area please drop by our Grow Justice Garden and join us!

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