The Jewish Farm School is dedicated to teaching about contemporary food and environmental issues through innovative trainings and skill-based Jewish agricultural education.
We train Jewish farmers, educators, and food justice activists, as well as inspire and support Jewish agricultural education experiences for the broader Jewish community.
We are driven by traditions of using food and agriculture as tools for social justice and spiritual mindfulness. Through our programs, we address the injustices embedded in today’s mainstream food systems and work to create greater access to sustainably grown foods, produced from a consciousness of both ecological and social well being.
We ran our first program in 2006, sprouting out of a shared vision by our founders to develop educational programming that would foster opportunities for Jews to reconnect with the processes of working the land and growing food. Their vision consisted of establishing a school that would enroll students seeking alternative modes of education. In doing so, the learning would entail farming, animal husbandry, natural building and Jewish learning as well as achieve the necessary requirements for accreditation.
To achieve this dream we decided to start small. In 2006, with the help of a mini-grant from Hazon's New York Jewish Environmental Bike Ride, we partnered with the Teva Learning Center for their anuual Seminar.
In 2007 we grew in size to two programs and the first ever edition of a 16-month calendar for sale on our website. In 2008 we officially became fiscally sponsored by Hazon.
Today we are running a number of programs for and with Hillel, Kayam Farm, Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Teva Learning Center, Eden Village Camp, and many more. Our hope for the future is to grow at a steady rate while producing excellent programs consisting of land-based education steeped in Jewish tradition.
For a full list of the Jewish Farm Schools partners click here.
Co-Founder & Executive Director
Nati is a writer, carpenter and educator living in Philadelphia. From 2005 to 2007 Nati ran an award-winning garden construction program for the Urban Nutrition Initiative at University City High School. Over the last several years Nati has led service–learning trips in the developing world for American Jewish World Service, and in the US for Jewish Funds for Justice. He enjoyed two fall seasons at the Teva Learning Center and has continued to work for Teva as a curriculum writer. Nati has studied sustainable building design and natural building and is a certified Permaculture designer. Nati holds a B.A. in Religion and Environmental Studies from the University of Pennsylvania, and was a recipient of the Joshua Venture Group Fellowship for Jewish Social Entrepreneurs.
Nati can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rabbi Jacob Fine
Rabbi and Director of Programs
A graduate of Vassar College, Jacob was ordained by the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies. Prior to joining JFS, Jacob served as Rabbi and Assistant Director at the University of Washington Hillel as well as the Director of Jconnect, Seattle’s largest Jewish community for young adults. Under Jacob's leadership, Jconnect gained national recognition as a leading innovator serving post-college Jewish young adults, and received awards from Slingshot and Great Nonprofits, among others. A Wexner Graduate Fellow, Jacob has served as a rabbi and educator for a number of leading Jewish environmental organizations including the Teva Learning Center, the Adamah Fellowship, where he also served as Farm Manager, and Hazon, where he co-led a beit midrash on the topic of food and Judaism. Jacob lives in Amherst, Massachusetts with his wife Julie and their daughter Meira.
Jacob can be reached at email@example.com
Marketing & Operations Associate
Cassie Peña began working professionally in the non-profit sector in Texas, where she worked as a Programs Assistant for the Sexual Assault and Family Violence Investigators Course (SAFVIC) training law enforcement in best practices around family violence and sexual assault. In 2010 she relocated to New York and began exploring her relationship to Judaism while working for Romemu, a Renewal synagogue in Manhattan. Through an interest in food access and justice, Cassie connected to the Jewish Farm School as an organization that explored the intersection of Judaism and modern social issues. She joined the team in 2011 and has since been working to help administer and promote the Jewish Farm School’s mission to communities focused on addressing food justice. Cassie received her B.A. from the University of North Texas in Applied Anthropology. She enjoys film and music, making art, learning and constantly discovering the world.
Cassie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Staff on the Farm at Eden Village
Sarah received a B.A. in Social Relations and Policy from Michigan State University where she focused on understanding the complexity of food deserts and sustainable food systems. In 2007, she lived in a community on Findhorn Ecovillage in Scotland, which inspired her to spend the next five years studying, traveling and learning how to live a more sustainable lifestyle. In her journeys, Sarah accumulated ample crew and management experience on organic farms in Michigan, Connecticut (as an Adamah fellow), California and in the Hudson River Valley of New York. As a child Sarah attended Habonim Dror Camp Tavor, later spending five years on staff and as the Camp Director. She loves to grow, harvest, dance and eat delicious food with intention and community.
Sarah can be reached at email@example.com
Jonathan has a hunch that human and more-than-human nature can coexist joyfully and productively. Despite majoring in History at Columbia University and the Hebrew Bible at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, his first job out of college was gardening in a South Bronx basement with Bronx Helpers, a summer program for teens. He has since spent a season sailing aboard the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, taught in the Family Garden of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and coordinated programming for the GreenSchool at the New York Botanical Garden. All that inspired him to pursue a degree in Environmental Education at Antioch University New England, where he served as the Volunteer Program Coordinator for the Monadnock Ecological Research and Education Project. He is interested in hiking, nature learning, poetry, yoga and meditation, cooking and eating (not that any of those things are entirely separate). He is excited to learn and celebrate with the Jewish Farm School at Eden Village Camp!
Jonathan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Farm Program Coordinator
Ellen Brown enjoys gardening, yoga, salsa dancing, spoken word poetry and vintage clothes. Her eclectic spirit brought her to study in Costa Rica and Ghana while earning her B.A. in Anthropology and Sociology at Goucher College in Baltimore. Ellen had her first farming experience in Nicaragua on an Alternative Break with American Jewish World Service. Inspired by the Jewish ethics that guided the trip, Ellen enrolled as a participant in a Jewish Farm School Alternative Break. Since then, she has continued to explore the intersection of Judaism and the Environment through farming at Kayam Farm in Reisterstown, MD and earning her permaculture design certificate on the Eco-Israel MASA Program in Israel. While in Israel, she was hired as a writer for the Global Jewish Voice to blog about her experiences of interacting with the land and cornerstone principles of the Jewish Environmental Movement. Ellen was a recent participant at the Hazon Food Conference as part of the American Jewish World Service Food Justice Cohort.
Ellen can be reached at email@example.com
For a list of former staff and alumni of Jewish Farm School click here.