Friday, July 27, 2012

Learning Yiddish on the Farm: Raising Zucchini With Language Immersion on the Side

Goshen, the fabled Egyptian area that the ancient Israelites settled and farmed when famine struck the Holy Land, was so fertile, according to the Bible, that the Israelites multiplied at rates that made the Pharaohs afraid.

It’s hard to see Goshen, N.Y., in the foothills of the Catskills, as the locus of a similar Jewish explosion. But who knows? This summer, a group of young farmers are launching Yiddish Farm, a new experiment in Jewish agriculture, in the rolling hills of Orange County, some 50 miles northwest of Manhattan.

“Behind me we have 13 rows of Yukon Gold organic potatoes that I planted just before Pesach time,” Yisroel Bass told me on a recent Sunday afternoon, surveying a field of crops. “They’re really taking off with all the rain.” He extolled the garlic a little farther down, and beyond that, rows of white beets, “an heirloom variety.” Below that were plantings of spinach, oats, three carrots, wheat, dill, sunflowers, zucchini and more beets.

This is farming with a diasporist twist. Normally, Bass, a tall, tanned 23-year-old with a straw hat, beard, yellow plaid tzitzis and Hasidic-style peyes, would be speaking Yiddish. For a visiting journalist he was willing to make an exception, but for everyone else taking part in this venture, Yiddish is the lingua franca. -- Ezra Glinter, Forward

To read more, click here.

To view accompanying video, click on image below.

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