Camp Shemesh, a summer day camp of the Jewish Community of Amherst (JCA), used their Gendler Grapevine Project grant to expand the JCA’s garden and hire a garden specialist and a stewardship coordinator to assist the camp in developing its environmental programming.


Camp Shemesh hired a gan specialist for the summer to run programs and compile garden curriculum, and they hired a stewardship coordinator who will continue to manage the development of the garden and its links to the JCA community, education and community outreach. The stewardship coordinator will continue to explore creative models and sources of funding for the integration of environmental programs across JCA constituencies like young families, teen programming, adult education, religious school and camp.

Over the summer, the gan (or garden) became an integral aspect of Camp Shemesh—campers expected to and were excited to visit the gan one to two days per week. During lunchtime, they separated psolet (food waste scraps) from trash and brought their compost to the gan to be added to the compost bin.

The gan provided food for the camp and some synagogue events, connecting people to nature through agricultural education and nurturing a culture of stewardship at camp and within the JCA community at large.


All campers became more aware of their food consumption and waste. Learning and playing were seamlessly intertwined in games like Seed Sprout, a sprinkler game that waters both campers and plants while demonstrating seed-to-plant-to-seed life cycles. One camper took the camp’s lessons home: his family started to compost and a small summer garden.

For a step-by-step guide on how to replicate this project, click here.