Grow an end to hunger with May 3 plant sale
By DEBORAH MOON
article created on: 2009-04-16T00:00:00
When is a plant sale really an opportunity to alleviate childhood hunger and heal the earth?May 3—when the dreams of a Portland family coalesce into an educational demonstration of sustainable living and tikkun olam.
Shari House and her children Rachel, 22, and Danny, 26, have organized the Native Plant Sale at Congregation Kesser Israel, 6698 SW Capitol Highway, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., May 3. In addition to selling flowers, foliage and shrubs that thrive naturally in Oregon, the event will feature a demonstration garden, information tables from five organizations dealing with hunger and the environment, activities for children and the opportunity to commit to growing produce to help feed Oregon’s hungry children.
“Grow an end to childhood hunger,” is the House family’s slogan for the event.
Based on the national Plant a Row for the Hungry, the project at Kesser will encourage gardeners to devote a small portion of their garden to feeding hungry children and persuade new gardeners to turn over a small piece of lawn to grow food for kids.
Shari said the family decided to tweak the national program because it seemed too big.
“I wanted to focus on hungry children in the Portland area,” she said. “In the summer they are more hungry because they are not in school (where children can receive free and reduced-price lunches). So our goal is to plant a row for hungry children.”
The family has turned over a small corner of grass on Kesser’s property for a demonstration garden.
“The demonstration site represents even in the smallest corner of your yard, you can pick up grass and plant a row,” said Shari.
Those who sign up at the plant sale will commit to dropping off at Kesser Israel a portion of their produce each week during July and August. Kesser will then deliver the produce to food banks that support hungry children and families with children.
None of the family are strangers to gardening. Growing up, Rachel and Danny helped their mom grow blueberries and fruit trees on a half-acre lot.
While attending Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary, Rachel volunteered at the Harlem Health Promotion Center, where she organized community gardens and helped raise awareness of the cost-effectiveness and health benefits of planting your own food.
Now a resident of Moishe House, a grassroots community center for young Jewish adults, Rachel has recruited Moishe House participants to help with planting and harvesting the garden at Kesser.
“There’s lots of gardening in Portland, but I haven’t seen that much in the Jewish community,” she said. “I thought this was a nice way to connect within planting in a Jewish environment.”
Shari said Danny has likewise been very involved in gardening and “he’s great with nature.”
Danny took charge of securing donations of soil, tools and other items to create the Kesser demonstration garden.
Danny won’t be around for the entire growing season, however, as he leaves for Israel in two months for a five-month community service program through Oranim.
In the fall, Rachel plans to follow her brother to Israel, where she hopes to volunteer with Magen David Adom (the Israeli counterpart of the Red Cross). She also plans to begin applying to medical schools for the following year.
All of which will leave their nurse practitioner mom shortstaffed at her clinic Pearl Health Center, where Rachel is office manager and Danny is the IT person.
But she’ll still be surrounded by her beloved plants. The clinic waiting room is a garden that demonstrates how plants can heal individuals and the earth.