Hey everyone, this awesomeness is brought to you by the Gan Project.
Ever wonder why New York and California seem to have so many exciting and fresh, lefty and liberal, progressive and oatmeally Judaism and Jewish community events while the Midwest gets the short change of traditional, conventional, Vanilla flavors of Judaism? Three Chicago Jewish women are hoping to improve the assortment of Jewish expression here in the Midwest by way of Jewish action oriented environmental and agricultural programming, cycling workshops, and gardening. The Gan Project is in its first year of operations. It is a board run organization composed of three founding members Jill Zenoff, Anne LaForti, and Suzanne Nathan. Their inaugural workshop season is underway and includes a fermentation and food preservation series, DIY natural bath and body products, urban gardening, and more.
Their first workshop, Food Preservation 101: Strawberry U-pick, Picnic, and Making Jam was a huge success with 11 participants and 34 jars of strawberry preserves and was featured on Chicago Public Radio’s website. The Gan Project’s website, www.theganproject.org, explains that their mission is “to create a vibrant, sustainable, and healthy Chicago Jewish community. Through working the land as our ancestors did before us, Jews from all walks of life can revitalize their connection to some of the most basic principles of Judaism. By providing positive experiences in nature we can breathe life into old traditions, explore the foundation of our faith, and foster a greater understanding of Torah.” While it might sound like it is geared for the Shomer Mitzvot, it is really pan-denominational, and open to non-Jews as well.
The Gan Project has been fortunate to be able to tap into the much-needed but undeserved “greening” of Chicago’s Jewish communities. The Chicago JCC has generously donated office space and Chicago’s Birthright NEXT has agreed to co-sponsor some of the summer workshop series. Also, Hazon has been instrumental in helping the new non-profit take off.
Their next workshop is set for July 11, at a community kitchen space, to teach and learn how to make lacto-fermented pickles out of season-fresh, local cucumbers. Crunch, crunch, crunchy time!