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Hazon Presents Vision Award to Three in Chicago

Elan Margulies accepts a Hazon Vision Award on behalf of Pushing the Envelope Farm

This past weekend, the Hazon Cross-USA riders presented Hazon Vision awards to three outstanding organizations in Chicago who are working to create healthier and more sustainable Jewish communities, and a healthier and more sustainable world for everyone.  As part of their four-day stop in the Chicago area, riders visited Pushing the Envelope Farm, the Food Justice and Sustainability Program at KAM Isaiah Israel, and the Gan Project, where they presented awards and met the projects’ founders.

“These awards recognize the amazing work that these organizations are doing,” said Nigel Savage, Hazon’s Executive Director.  “We’re incredibly proud to be meeting the people who are doing this work on the ground, and to include their stories on our 2012 Hazon Cross-USA Ride, in which our riders are learning about sustainable food systems and visiting farms and food producers all across the country.”

We invite you to learn more about these three organizations, and see more photos of the weekend’s events on the Cross-USA Ride blog.

Pushing the Envelope Farm is a fourteen-acre farm and Jewish community educational center in Geneva, IL.  It was founded by the Margulies family on unused land of their family’s envelope factory — which is the farm’s namesake.  On Thursday, July 26th, the Hazon Cross-USA riders visited Pushing the Envelope Farm for a cheese making demonstration, a wild edibles walk, and a brewing demonstration.

The team at Pushing the Envelope Farm said,

It means a lot to be recognized by the community, and we are honored to be a part of Hazon’s greater network.The Hazon riders were so amazing in their dedication. They helped us milk goats and it was great sharing our produce with people who were excited to wake up at 6am to go harvest breakfast. It reminded us on the farm of the passion that we felt after we attended our first Hazon Food Conference (where we got our initial inspiration to start the farm). Everyone is looking forward to the Hazon Food Conference in December and the chance to meet with other people working for change in our food system. We look forward to working with the Hazon family as we continue to reach towards our educational goals and expand our tzedakah gardening program.

We encourage you to read more about the Margulies family, the amazing story of the creation of their farm, and their work in their local community in a recent cover story in the Chicago Jewish News.

Robert Nevel of KAM Isaiah Israel speaks about what it meant to him to receive a 2012 Hazon vision award

On Sunday, July 29th, Hazon Cross-USA Riders met Robert Nevel, Founder and Director of the  award winning, nationally recognized Food Justice and Sustainability Program at KAM Isaiah Israel.  They toured the gardens and helped the KAMII crew with the morning harvest and delivery of produce (in the Hazon Cross-USA Ride Van) to a nearby soup kitchen.

On receiving the award, Nevel said,

Back in February of 2009, the KAMII Social Justice Committee started rethinking the urban land use model of churches and synagogues with the goal of turning their unproductive landscapes into food producing gardens. Their aim was to help feed those in need in our community, be better stewards of the land and teach others how to do the same. Flash forward to 2012, and with an interfaith group of dedicated volunteers KAMII has constructed and tends five gardens and is now one of the largest growers and donors of food in Chicago.

Although our program was designed to be replicable throughout the US, it is for all of us who grow and deliver the food, a local program. It is about helping those in need in our community, about building relationships within our neighborhood. It is therefore an extraordinary honor to be recognized by Hazon, an organization well outside our neighborhood. And to be presented the with the 2012 Hazon Vision Award by Nigel, in our Star Garden here in Chicago, with our crew and the Cross-USA riders on hand, was also a great joy.

On Sunday, July 29th, Hazon Cross-USA riders and local community members helped to harvest food from the gardens and bring it to two hot meal programs and one shelter for women and children in the Hazon Cross-USA Ride van.

Vegetables at the GAN Project Homestead

Down at the other end of the city, The Gan Project grows food on land owned by the Bernard Horwich JCC.  The project is founded by Chicago-native Jill Zenoff who was inspired to bring some of her experiences at the Connecticut-based Adamah farming program back to Chicago.  Through community harvests and educational programs, the Gan Project works to foster partnerships and collaborative efforts that emphasize the connections between food, environmental justice, and other social justice issues and Jewish tradition.

 

Jill Zenoff, Executive Director of The Gan Project said,

I was honored to receive this award because it showed me  that although we have disconnected food justice and environmental organizations popping up around the world, we are connected as a broader network of people working toward the same goal. Rather than competing with each other between organizations, it is refreshing to have that recognition that organizations complement each other and strengthen each other, which continues to motivate the work that I do. I am looking forward to points of collaboration as this movement takes hold and we start to see real societal shifts.  Often, people view  a program like ours or programs similar to Hazon’s as “local/small” projects – but internally we see ourselves as that national global network of people working together; we just happen to be doing it in various locations.

On Sunday afternoon, July 29th, the Gan Project hosted “Feasting/Fasting,” an afternoon program with several community leaders teaching on topics related to fasting, social justice, understanding Tisha B’Av, kashrut, and more.

Mazal tov to Robert, the Margulies Family and Kate, and Jill, and all the great people who are part of these organizations, on your outstanding work.

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Inspired? Want to learn more? Come to the Hazon Food Conference and meet the movers and shakers of the New Jewish Food Movement!  December 6-9, 2012 at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center.

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