Greening Faith: Pe’ah Garden
There are a number of commandments in the Torah that address agriculture and the farmer’s responsibility to help feed the poor. For example, one of the tenants of Judaism is that when gardening, the gardener should not reap the entire harvest, but rather leave the very edges of the field for the poor.
Pe’ah is a Hebrew word that translates literally to “corner,” and refers to the practice, from Leviticus, of leaving “the corners of fields unharvested so that the poor can gather fresh food in dignity” (coejl.org). A Pe’ah Garden is a garden that has at least one corner available to the less fortunate members of the community. As a result, Pe’ah Gardens are a great way to bring local (and often organic) produce to disadvantaged members of the community in a sustainable, environmentally friendly manner.
There are numerous ways organizations use Pe’ah Gardens to create fulfilling and meaningful experiences for their community members while also providing much needed food for the less fortunate. Below are a few of examples of projects from around the U.S.
– Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco, CA, has an established garden that provides food to local food banks.
– In Kansas City, congregations from across the city have joined together to create Mitzvah Garden KC.
If you are interested in starting your own Pe’ah Garden, the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) has written a document explaining how to create an urban Pe’ah Garden.