Pickles with A Soul from a Falls Village Farm
At the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center farm in northwestern Connecticut, they don’t just grow potatoes, tomatoes, and cabbage, they cultivate a new generation of Jewish farmers. Every summer and fall, two groups of 14 young men and women between the ages of 20 and 29 spend three months as fellows in the Adamah (Hebrew for “ground”) program, working with Shamu Sadeh, an environmental studies instructor, Jewish educator, writer, organic gardener, and wilderness guide. The Adamah program is holistic; it integrates organic farming, sustainable living, Jewish learning, teaching, and contemplative spiritual practice.
For the past few years, Sadeh has been working to make the farm a source of revenue for the not-for-profit center, which is a pan-denominational Jewish version of the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck. Besides growing crops for the kosher dining room, donating veggies to a local food bank, and delivering produce every week through a CSA program to a synagogue in Westchester County (in a truck that runs mostly on old vegetable oil), Shamu has been developing a branded product line. After much experimentation, the Adamahnics, as they are known, have mastered making pickles, sauerkraut, dilly beans, kimchee, and schug (a Yemenite chili sauce) which they bottle in their newly licensed commercial kitchen. This summer, they harvested 8,000 pounds of cucumbers.. “The challenge is washing them and getting them in brine the day you pick them,” he says. Now, you can find the jars, which have pretty botanical labels with Hebrew letters, in the refrigerator cases at local food stores such as the Berkshire Co-Op Market, Guido’s, Rubiner’s and LaBonne’s.
The Adamahnics (who look like they could all be extras in Ang Lee’s Taking Woodstock) will be hosting a family-friendy Feast in the Field fundraiser on Sunday, September 21, where they will serve a dairy brunch featuring vegetable frittatas, homemade chevre from Isabella Freedman’s own goats, croquettes with roasted eggplant and feta cheese, as well as pickles (half- and full-sours), sauerkraut and dilly beans. “We’ll have a tent in our sadeh [field] on Route 126,” says Shamu, “And we will also be unveiling the plans for our new farm on Beebe Hill Road. We have worked with Dave Jacke who is one of the authorities on permaculture in our region. It will be a teaching and working farm that is efficient and sustainable.”