Diario Judío México - Since 2011, I have been busy restoring this 225-acre piece of property. With the exception of four sizable hayfields, this 300 year old farm had been abandoned to nature for approximately the last 30 years. The restoration has been undertaken with the goal of creating a fertile and productive Yiddish-speaking organic farm and the process has been anything but easy. 18 hour workdays, sweat, blood and tears have all contributed to the growth of this farm. Over the past 3 years, I’ve relied on the help of countless people, including our neighbor Steve DeFalcon, local farmers, yeshiva students, and of course our own Yiddish ulpan students.
I, myself, have been growing as a farmer, learning firsthand why farming is considered one of the most difficult jobs out there. The reward for this work hasn’t been riches, but rather a sense of groundedness and a pride that when I look around the Yiddish Farm there are few spaces left that do not bear my mark.
This year we have received our first government grant from the Natural Resource Conservation Service (under the USDA) to help fund our sustainable farming practices including cover cropping, mulching, and crop rotation. Additionally we have received funding to plant an Organic Pollinator Habitat and install a new greenhouse. I am personally very excited about our contract with NRCS because it furthers our ability to farm in accordance with our sustainable ideals.
In the fields this year we are growing a wide variety of crops. Across the street from the Beis-Medresh, among the ruins of the former farmhouse, we have planted a beautiful garden full of kale, cucumbers, tomatoes, sunflowers, popcorn, brussels sprouts, radish, lettuce, dill, chamomile, and carrots. This week we were busy in the black dirt, harvesting our world famous garlic and weeding around our super spicy horseradish. Early season green garlic and scape sales have seen Yiddish Farm produce making it to the plates and jars of dynamic Brooklyn kosher establishments like Pardes Restaurant and Mason and Mug.
Our rocky upper field has been transformed into a luscious pasture for our sheep, geese, and heritage Thanksgiving turkeys. A formerly abandoned field of brush and sumac trees has been dramatically transformed into terraces of basil and squash. In the lower field golden waves of wheat are ripening before the coming harvest l’shem mitzvah. Just yesterday we harvested a half field at the direction of Rabbi Marmorstein and we hope to harvest the rest of our crop by the end of the week.
Don’t just take my word, you can see all this progress for yourself when you visit during our next farm day July 27th.
Something that I would like to see this year is to have more of our unique farm produce and products reaching you. To that end we have opened an online store and we have even begun taking preliminary steps for the establishment of a Yiddish Farm CSA for the 2015 growing season.
Furthermore, preliminary research is underway for the creation of a Yiddish Farm distillery, and a fruit tree orchard. Keep tuned, for many more exciting projects are on the horizon. If you are interested in helping with and supporting any of our current or proposed projects, please feel free to send me an email, and check out our new online store.
Mark your calendars, and take a day, or a few, to visit us this summer on the following open farm days: July 27th, August 3rd, and August 10th.
Yisroel Bass, Co-founder and Farm Manager