Federation Fellows

Mini-Mission to Urban Adamah

Recently, a small group of Federation Fellows and guests gathered at Urban Adamah, a Jewish values-driven farm in the middle of Berkeley. Our fellows cohort is about 18 months into our two-year leadership program, and we’ve been to many interesting corners of the Bay Area and its Jewish communities, but this mini-mission would prove to be the most unique.

“Could each of you please take a blindfold so we can begin the tour of the farm,” asks Adam Berman, executive director of the farm. We are more than a little confused, but he is warm and calm, so we shrug, take one of the proffered blindfolds, and form a solemn sort of conga line to begin our adventure. Adam leads (unblindfolded), snaking us slowly through the uneven soil. We nibble kale still rooted in the ground, warm our hands on the solar panels that power the aquaponic greenhouse, and encounter curious chickens and an affectionate goat. It is equal parts sensory journey, mindfulness practice, team building, and education. When we are silent, our soundtrack is the autumnal wind rustling the plants around us, intermittently interrupted by a honk or engine rev from San Pablo Avenue.

In just a few minutes of exploration, we can all feel that this place has been designed to nourish. The crops grown at Urban Adamah nourish 125 families, every week, that could not otherwise afford fresh food. The programming at Urban Adamah, including afterschool and camp programs for children and a three month fellowship for young adults, nourish the intellect and curiosity of the community. The farming done here, eco-friendly and producing low-to-no waste, has nourished the plot of land beneath our feet.

Blindfolds now removed, we settle into the cozy assembly tent, hot cider in hand. The entire group is smiling. We learn about the history and exciting future of the project and parse a text that enumerates the Jewish values of the project in havruta, and then as a group. With intellectual appetites sated, it is time for lunch. The farm team has used the bounty of the farm to produce a meal of wood-fired pizza, braised kale, and mixed greens and beet salads that would make Alice Waters blush. After lunch, we clear and wash the dishes, and finally get to dirty our hands weeding and re-soiling a bed of planters before we go. It is the very least we can do in exchange for the beautiful day we’ve had.

Federation Fellows is a two-year leadership building program that develops the next generations of leaders for the Jewish community. To learn more about the program, contact Dona Standel or call 415.512.6436.

Categories: Leadership


November 24, 2015


Sophie Sharp