In 2008, Rabbi Noah Farkas convened lay leaders and rabbis around LA to discuss food, hunger, and environmental issues. The group met and discussed strategies for collaboration, and wrote a grant proposal to become a network. In 2010, Netiya and the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles were jointly awarded a Cutting Edge Grant from the Jewish Community Foundation. In April 2011, Netiya hired its Founding Executive Director, Devorah Brous, who has been at the helm ever since its inception.
Over the past six years, Netiya has run diverse programming to both advance food security in Los Angeles and to listen and respond to the needs of our congregational partners. We are proud to share the history of our offerings below, as each of these unique programs has contributed seeds to our current and thriving garden offerings!
What follows is a list of some of the programs and projects Netiya ran since April 2011:
Just Food & Gardens
Netiya has worked with faith institutions to install 18 sustainable and water-wise food based gardens and orchards across Los Angeles. To learn more about our groundbreaking Matching Microgrants program, click here. To see a list of Just Food & Gardens and learn more about each project, click here.
Through the Just Foods programming, Netiya taught about the farm-to-fork process; examined how our institutions can make informed and ethical food choices on what is served and; strived to forge alliances that merged institutional purchasing power to source food from local farms and grocers. Our intent was for our faith-based institutions to serve as hubs for local farms to sell local produce, and to create a consortium that would make high-quality produce more affordable for partner institutions in underserved areas.
Over several years, we focused on institutional-scale food procurement and held a series of community-wide workshops and Local Shabbat events where we distributed educational materials and info-cards to the communities that participated.
Local Shabbat Campaign (March-April 2012) – Netiya initiated a first-ever campaign among our network of 27 religious institutions to purchase locally-sourced produce for our services on the weekend of 3/31, doing our part for LA Food Policy Council’s city-wide effort for the Mayor’s Good Food Day of Service. Netiya compiled The Netiya List, a first-of-its-kind compendium of educational resources with information about the why and the how of taking meaningful steps toward improving our food system in LA. Netiya organized LA’s first-ever, city-wide Local Shabbat campaign among 17 institutions and we partnered to obtain our food from the same providers. The campaign’s vision was for a faith-based network of institutions to merge our collective purchasing power behind farms within a 200-mile radius around LA.
Netiya devoted the year 2011 to special food justice programs called Just Actions. These programs focused on raising awareness to food justice issues and food relief issues.
VA Program – Netiya forged a partnership with Grow Native Nursery at the VA, and the VA Dieticians to offer free monthly workshops and to transform a previously overgrown, unused space in the heart of LA into a 12-acre vibrant, edible landscape with orchard produce grown for the underserved Vets at the VA. Our mission was to reach deeply into our respective constituencies to develop a partnership of Vets and community volunteers through free monthly workshops to learn and teach how to compost, plant, prune, harvest, and protect fruit trees through organic methods. After clearing and planting the orchard, designing and planting up three raised beds and installing an irrigation system, we are currently probing the possibility of continuing to partner with the VA through other partners (University Synagogue).
Big Tent Collaborations
Netiya convened nine Jewish food/hunger organizations in LA to collaborate our efforts and together, we attended four community-wide “Big Tent Festivals.” at the Shalom Institute. We aimed to create a stronger presence together, and to put the issue of food justice on the agenda for the thousands of attendees of each of these events. Netiya facilitated collaboration between the organizations to deliver program content at the four events, and to write and issue a joint statement for distribution.
Netiya Food Justice Seder (2011)
Netiya organized nine food/hunger Jewish organizations to participate in the first-ever Netiya Food Justice Seder. It was inspired by a joint event that was hosted at the Jewish Federation of Greater LA in 2010 for Passover Seder, using this Haggadah on Hunger. We also organized the collaborative Netiya Learning Center and offered ten workshops on food/hunger at the Big Tent Festival.
Netiya Tu B’Shvat Seder + Haggadah (2011-Ongoing)
Netiya organizes annual Tu B’Shevat events and has written the Netiya Tu B’Shvat Haggadah.
Veggie Voucher Distribution (2012)
Netiya granted $1,000 for a Veggie Voucher Distribution at a Farmer’s Market in South LA on 10/19 in partnership with Hunger Action LA. Our volunteers signed up working-poor families to receive veggie vouchers to enable the purchase of healthy fresh food to be more affordable.
Netiya’s B’nai Mitzvah Project: Hannah’s Herbs (2012)
This Mitzvah project was designed and launched with intent to help emergency food relief recipients at Jewish Family Services / SOVA to learn how to grow their own container gardens. Bat/Bar Mitzvah students learned about hunger, gardening, project sustainability, and leadership. The goal was to further empowerment and self-reliance among underserved people while cultivating a group of SOVA clients that apply to be part of the program and will help plant and sustain the SOVA/Netiya garden once it is established. Read more. Hannah’s Herbs was designed by young visionary and former Netiya volunteer just after her Bat Mitzvah, Hannah Gordon. Some 70 customized boxes of herbs and edibles were distributed to recipients of emergency food relief at SOVA.
- Jewish Farm School Alternative Spring Break – Netiya organized a one-week tour of food justice and service learning days for 15 Cornell/Hillel college students with Netiya partners in South LA, East LA, Valley and the west side.
- Shared Earth Project Tours – For congregants and organizers to visit the site to help configure what to create on their synagogue premises (April 2012)
Community Food Security Workdays
Netiya ran this educational fee-for-service program at 10 partner sites to teach groups about allying in food deserts and growing community food security. Our service/learning program had community building components through opening/closing circles, and a hands-on planting/weeding component.
For four years, Netiya ran an Interfaith Council. It was an advisory of community activists engaged in food justice who demonstrated an unwavering commitment to advancing urban agriculture in LA. This Council, run by the Executive Council, worked to make the most pressing issues within the LA food movement accessible within and around our institutions. The Council generated messaging content for distribution throughout the network, and brainstormed ways to teach, organize, and/or convene our communities. The Council’s educational efforts were applied throughout the year when the community celebrated our sowing and harvest festivals.
Now that you’ve read about our history, check out our current programming here: PLANT. TEACH. SEED!