Ekar Farm's Beautiful Harvest
How did Ekar Farm go from being a small urban farm project on the Denver Academy of Torah’s campus to a front runner in the fight for food justice and action around climate change? Executive Director Sue Salinger says it is one of the many results of a global pandemic.
Denver’s two-acre Jewish communal farm and garden, which was based on a charity model of food production, began more than a dozen years ago. Today, said Salinger, “Ekar Farm is at an inflection point. At the start, we grew food and donated food. Now, we’re at the center of trying to understand the root causes of food and environmental injustice.”
During the height of the pandemic, the number of families needing food assistance multiplied ten-fold. In order to meet that demand, said Salinger, the farm needed to take a more systemic approach to feeding the hungry, including making strategic choices to maximize their impact in the community.
One silver lining of the otherwise devastating COVID pandemic has been a move toward a more collaborative effort across the Denver Metro area to address the problem of food insecurity. For the past year, said Salinger, Ekar Farm and other organizations have participated in weekly phone meetings to discuss ways to serve the community’s needs, and the philanthropic community, including JEWISHcolorado, has stepped in repeatedly to provide emergency funding for hunger relief. As a result of those meetings, Ekar received emergency assistance and grants that enabled them to triple the amount of food grown and distributed to those facing food insecurity and to coordinate the distribution of over 17,000 seed packets to community gardeners and individuals.