Friday, August 12, 2016

Dear Gan Yarok Community,

This week I had the pleasure of tending to our community garden alongside Naomi Lopkin.

 At 6:30 AM on Tuesday I gathered my harvest knife and sun hat, and drove my vegetable oil powered station wagon to our small productive garden. Farming in the morning is a preferred time for many farmers, because the early day temperatures can be more temperate for physical work. Personally I find working in abundant nature can be therapeutic and grounding for the day...I think if it as an extension of the Shaharit service. This idea of morning "Avodat Lev" or "Work of the Heart" is something I learned at the Adamah Jewish Farming Fellowship in CT, where we would wake up at 6AM for chanting and nature walks. 

As the cool mist rose around me, I weeded tomatoes, onions, and carrot. Once the weeds were taken care of, I harvested some large frying peppers, tomatoes, and a bunch of basil for an upcoming dinner. 

After completing field work, I began the lengthy task of drenching each plant with water. We are currently in a "Sever Drought" status, which poses a serious challenge to the Massachusetts eco-system. Many farms in the area are experiencing 30-50% crop loss, and farmers spending most of their time moving long drip irrigation lines from field to field (a system that was invented in Israel). 

For our garden, the drought means dry soil and some loss of plant life. Although there are negatives to the lack of water, I also think it is important to recognize the gifts of food we are currently receiving at this time. Although the squash is now done producing, peppers and tomatoes are doing very well in this hot dry spell! 

At 7:30AM the temperature is already at a steamy 75 degrees, so it is time to head to my job at The Food Project, where I manage a social justice farming education program for teenagers. As I leave Gan Yarok I notice a small cucumber that provides me with a juicy refreshing snack. Eating food from our garden makes me appreciate all of the strong hands and community efforts that help grow food in a meaningful way. Thank you to everyone for growing healthy delicious food!

Let's pray for some more rain!

 Shabbat Shalom,

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

 if you can help out.

Gan Yarok Update:  July 6, 2016

I'd like to give this blog update a title, "W and W" which translates to weed and water.

Weeding is essential during the next number of weeks. Despite our best attempts to mulch, weeds are sprouting up everywhere that they can pop their heads out! I spent a few minutes weeding this morning,
but would love some help from anyone in in the group.  You don't need to be on garden duty to go and weed.  Even if all of us give 15 minutes to weeding we will keep the weeds under control.
If weeds continue to take over we not only damage our garden, but other gardens in the area, so please find the time to help out!

One note about a weed that is growing everywhere in the garden and happens to be edible!  That plant is called purslane and it
can currently be found in every nook and corner of Gan Yarok!
Before picking any, please use this website as a guide:

More on purslane:

We're Having an Open House!
I hope that you will come and visit on Tuesday, August 2d from 6:00-7:30 at the garden.
If you can help and be there, please let me know...thanks!  (

What's up in the garden now?

Zucchini:  We currently have a full grown zucchini, so if you are on duty this week, please pick it.
You can wash it in cold water and stick it in your freezer...preferable labeled and I'll call for it when it is time to cook the soup.

Cucumbers: Located by the zucchini plant, there are a number of small cucumbers which should be ready for picking some time next week.  

Onion Greens 

Potato greens are growing...should go to flower over the next two weeks or so.
Please note that potatoes and tomatoes are from the same family and both have poisonous leaves! 

Green beans are flowering as are scarlet runner beans. Green beans have white flowers and scarlet runner beans, which are up against the fence, have orange/red flowers. Please note that our green beans are considered bush beans and are indeterminate, whereas scarlet runner beans are pole beans and will climb across the fencing! These beans will dry in their pods while on the vine and won't be ready until the end of September, but they are worth the wait!

Squash to a zucchini growing....

Please note that these blossoms are also edible and considered a delicacy!  You can stuff them with mushrooms and bread crumbs for a great treat.  Feel free to pick a few of the blossoms and bring them home.

Best regards to all of you...Please call me with questions or concerns with anything in the garden...
Leann 617-650-3029

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Gan Yarok update for June 21, 2016

A quick garden update for everyone.

The garden is looking good! The weather has been good with warm temperatures....perhaps not enough rain, but our participants have been good about watering!

Some highlights right now:

  • We have a few little strawberries!
  • We have our first little zucchini and cucumber!
  • The potato plants are getting taller and the onions are looking stronger!

The fence is doing its work and thankfully we don't have any animal pests.

What needs to be done ....we need a bit of help if you have time.

1. Weeding
2. Caging tomato plants
3. Attaching the pole beans to the fence.
4. Snipping a few flowers on Friday and bringing them to Shaarei, put in a vase for Shabbat morning.

For Friday:  
I'd love to have some of the flowers growing in the garden put into a vase and onto the kiddush table.
I am hoping to do this as often as possible during the summer.


There are a number of weeks which are not covered at all.  Please sign up, if you haven't already, or sign up for a second week.  We need the help.
At this point the weeks open are:
Please email me at to sign up....thank you!

DIRECTIONS TO THE GARDEN (from Winchester Street)
Follow Winchester Street as though you are going to the JCC.  After approximately 1/2 mile you will pass a golf course (on your left and right). Directly after the golf course you will see a white house on your right.  After the white house you will see the entrance to Nahanton Park.
Enter the park and follow the road approximately 1000 feet down the hill until you come to the first parking lot which will be on your left.  Opposite the parking lot you will see a dirt road on your right. Take this dirt road and take a left at the end of the road (the road is rough, so proceed with caution).  Follow this dirt road for approximately 500 feet and take a left onto "the road" (this road is more like a path) which runs parallel to the gardens. Park on the left of this road.
Once you have gotten out of the car, please continue to follow this road as it swings around the garden.  You will see a clearing/parking space on the right.  Our garden is located just to the left of this parking space.  There are a few orange rugs on the left of the garden which are covering poison ivy.  If you get lost you can contact me at 617-650-3029 and I will do my best to guide you.


We have a watering hose in the garden which is connected to a central water pipe.  To access the water pipe simply follow our hose out of the garden and follow it until you arrive at the water source.  Attach our hose, which is labeled "Shaarei" and turn the water on.  Make sure to turn the water off after you are finished watering.


Just to repeat that we don't have a real door at Gan Yarok, but our improvised door is very secure and working very well.  To open the door simply untie the twine you see at the top of the entry door.  Pull the door diagonally to your left and rest the wire door on the ground. Watch your step as you climb over the bottom of the door and into the garden.  To close the door simply reattach and tie the twine so that the door closes tight from top to bottom.

                                                     Scarlet Runner Beans

                                                      First zucchini of the season

                                                      Swiss Chard

Potato Plant

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Tuesday, June 7th Update

Hello Everyone!

A few updates for you.  The garden is growing nicely!  We have had a nice mix of warm, sunny weather and some good soaking rains which have given the plants a good long drink.  The fence seems to be holding well, but there seemed to be a couple of  Swiss chard seedlings that have had something chew on them and a pepper plant has been tasted.  I don't see any breaches in the fence, but am cautiously keeping an eye of other signs that someone/something is enjoying some juicy leaves when they shouldn't be.

We are still planting just a few more plants.  Three tomato plants will be put in tomorrow morning plus one more squash plant will be added.  We've added wide paths around the garden for ease when you water, etc.

Some things to be cautious about:

1.  Getting into our door.  The door is not finished in a "people friendly" way. It works to keep out critters, but you need to be cautious opening it and entering the garden.  For now, you'll need to undo the twine bow that attaches the outer door. When you have done that and you can open the door, you will have to step over it carefully.  
Make sure that you close it carefully and thoroughly when you are finished at the garden.
Last, I could use some help fixing the door so it is more people friendly... the sooner the better!

2. Warning #2:  the path to the garden contains some poison ivy.  I plan on going over tomorrow and will place some bath rugs over it, but there may still be some lurking.  Poison ivy looks like this:

Image result for poison ivy

3. Ticks: We are working outside and ticks live in the wild.  When you work in the garden, protect yourself. Wear shoes and tuck your socks into your pants.  Inspect yourself when you leave the garden and shower when you return home. If you bring kids to the garden, do the same for them.  Caution is your best bet against a tick bite.
 Ticks look like this:

Image result for ticks
IF you find you have gotten a tick bite, save the tick and see a doctor.

4.  Walking around in the garden.  
Some of our garden is planted on small hills and mounds which can make walking a bit uneven.  Stay on the paths and  be cautious.

Things that need to be done in the garden these next few weeks and a wish list

1. We still have more mulching to do on the paths.  We need about 6 old bath towels or old sheets to lay down as a base for the mulch....This will keep the weeds down and helps to make the mulch more effective.
If you have any, please let me know sooner rather than later.

2. Weeding  (see photos 3 and 4 below)- The weeds are growing from under the salt marsh hay which acts as a mulch for the plants.  We need to carefully weed. Look for grasses growing between the salt marsh hay. I also saw a good amount of wild morning glories trying to establish themselves in the garden.  Try to grab them firmly and get them out roots and all.  

3. The door needs to be fixed.

4. Poison ivy needs to be covered.

5. Keep watch for pests that may be eating our plants.  If you note any plants missing their tops or see any suspicious holes, let me know!!

6. Using black ties, attaching the top part of the fence to the bottom part of the fence.

7. WATER!!!  
Here are some watering tips: Here is a link to give you watering tips. It's worth it to read this as we want to d our best to give the plants a good watering.

Thank you to all of you who have been coming to the garden and for all of your help.  It is so nice to see it take shape!

Happy Gardening!



This view of the garden illustrates how it looks with the wood chips on the paths.
The center circle is a flower/herb garden.


Bush beans growing.  Currently they have their seed leaves and are getting their real leaves.


Please note the small red stemmed beet (or swiss chard) seedlings surrounded by the longer grass leaves.
Weeders need to gently pull up the weeds...not our seedlings.


This small and unobtrusive weed is a form of wild morning glory.
When you see it, pull it up from the roots so that it does not overtake the garden.


Our squash and cucumber plants on hills covered with salt marsh hay.  Note
in the background the scarlett runner beans growing.

A young visitor celebrating his fourth birthday at the garden with a bit of digging!!!

What we're growing
We've planted carrots, swiss chard, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, green beans, scarlet runner beans, peppers.  In the flower garden we have a variety of herbs and flowers.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Update, Wednesday, May 25th- L'ag Ba'Omer eve!

Wednesday evening, May 25th

Hello and Happy L'ag B'Omer!

A few of us worked at Gan Yarok today.  Alex, Emma, Naomi and Leora Mallach all came by to take care
of a number of really important tasks.
Here is what was accomplished:

We purchased salt marsh hay and are in the midst of mulching the entire planted part of the garden. The salt marsh hay will keep our plants cool and moist on hot days and hopefully delay the growth of the weeds.

We expect to have a darker mulch to cover the garden paths.  (Thank you to Vicky and Alex Lyons!)
We need to line the paths with the mulch and we are looking for volunteers.  Please let me know if you can come and spread mulch.  It shouldn't take more than 45 minutes tops.

We put in the flower garden.  I will be at the garden at about 4:30 tomorrow (Thursday, 5/26) and expect to put in a number of herbs to add to the flower garden. Feel free to join me. I'll be there for about 45 minutes.

We planted the potatoes. We are opening up two new rows for planting over the next few days.

We got our hosing installed. (yeah!)
We inspected the periphery of the garden for any pests who might have dug holes to sneak in and munch on our plants.  No diggers yet!  Everyone who has signed up for the garden should inspect the fence each time you come by to water.

Good news! We have someone to design our garden signage!  (More on this in a later post.)

Our first week of tending the garden begins on Sunday, May 29th.  It looks like David Wilensky and Susan Megerman are our first workers.  We'll have the garden ready for you!

Last, thank you to those of you who donated hoses. Sara and Susan, the hosing amount worked out perfectly!

Have a wonderful L'ag B'Omer.  

See you in the garden!


Monday, May 23, 2016

May 22: Working on the fence, tilling, adding organic matter and planting!

May 22, 2016

Thank you to all of you who helped to make this week successful!
We've made a great deal of progress to creating our garden.
We've dug trenches and buried the lower fence to protect against burrowers.
We've added the upper fence to protect against deer who might jump into the garden.
We created a garden design and have planted carrots, beets, swiss chard, cucumbers, tomatoes,
zucchini, green beans and scarlett runner beans.

This week the work was hard, but it was fun to work together in the garden.  It made the more difficult tasks easier to accomplish.  Thank you to Daniel and Shira, to David and to Susan, to Ari and Abe , to Vicky and Alex, to Naomi and Ruthy.  (forgive me if I forgot someone in this list!)

Tasks to be done this week and next:  (for all of these we need assistance)
Please let me know if you can assist with any of these by emailing me.

* Plant potatoes (Wednesday at 5:00)
*Plant the center flower/herb garden (Susan responsible for purchasing flowers which we can use for the bimah or kiddush during the summer months. time to be determined)
* Reinforce the fence on the outside by tamping down the soil and possibly adding more soil. (anytime this week...if someone has an hour, please let me know...this is essential work to protect the plants.)
*Plant one more area of the garden (possibly kale or more tomatoes or onions  Wednesday at 5:00).
* Purchase salt marsh hay  (leann will purchase)
* mulch the gardened areas with salt marsh hay  (Wednesday at 5:00...can you come?)
* work on a good system for irrigation  (Susan will bring more hoses...need a good plan...and help!)

Wish list
I am looking for someone in this group or in the congregation to paint a panel for our door or create a sign on a pole for the center of our flower garden identifying it as Gan Yarok.

Please volunteer if you can.

Once this important work is done we can relax a little bit and begin to do regular upkeep and care, which I will update you on later.

We're all going to work together to make this into a wonderful garden!


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

This Sunday, the day after Passover ends will be the annual Walk for Hunger.  Our Gan Yarok follows directly in the model of feeding the hungry, so if any of you are up for a ten mile walk, consider doing "The Walk" on Sunday!

Image result for the walk for hunger