K.A.M. seeks input on new garden plans

Staff Writer

K.A.M. Isaiah Israel is asking the public’s input in designing a half-acre sustainable farm at a currently undisclosed location in Hyde Park.

At the fourth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Food Justice Weekend, “Schmita: Food Security and Sustainable Design in the Sabbatical Year and Beyond,” attendees will be welcome to help lay out and design a half-acre site that will be used to grow food for area shelters and hot meal programs.

The weekend will feature education and advocacy programs, Friday night service and Sunday workshops on food, farming and sustainable design. On Saturday afternoon, the community will be invited to help invited expert growers and planners lay out a half-acre site.

Robert Nevel, K.A.M.’s social justice committee chair and garden founder, said the urban farm location is within a one-mile radius of K.A.M., 1100 E. Hyde Park Blvd., but at this time does not want to say where it is located.

At 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 18, the weekend begins with a presentation following Friday night service. Devorah Brous, the founding director of Netiya in Los Angeles will speak on “Seeds of Change from Torah to Permaculture: Moving Toward Sustainable Food Security.”

At 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 19, expert growers, planners and farmers will ask for input from the community regarding the urban farm. Advisors will include Kitt Healy, farmer relations and outreach coordinator for Green City Market and farm manager of the K.A.M. Food Justice and Sustainability Program; Mitch Yaciw, farm manager at Unity Gardens; Michael Thompson, farm manager of Chicago Honey Co-op; Ken Dunn, founder and director of Resource Center and Elan Margulies, director of Pushing the Envelope Farm. Nevel will lead the workshop.

Starting at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 20, and continuing throughout the day, garden constructors, material suppliers, environmentalists and urban farmers will lead workshops.

Representatives from Urban Worm Girl, which encourages and teaches urban composting; Bike-A-Bee, who encourages beekeeping; Counter Culture Coffee, a Near West Side shop with a commitment to sustainability and Lake Street Landscape, which sells landscaping supplies from a sustainable source, will participate in the weekend.

K.A.M. turned the synagogue’s lawn into a vegetable-producing garden in 2009 and began donating the produce to area food shelters and hot meal programs. They have since expanded to include gardens at Kenwood United Church of Christ and St. Paul and the Redeemer. This year the program donated more than two tons of fresh food.