Farm, Garden, & Animal Center

goat face.

Shalom Institute’s Garden, Farm and Animal Center is a model for Jewish social and environmental responsibility and demonstrates the relationship between Judaism and the environment, including the care of animals.

Shalom Institute’s Garden, Farm and Animal Center engages the community in deepening their connection to the earth through experiential education.

Marla Bennett Israel Discovery Center and Garden

The Marla Bennett Israel Discovery Center and Garden is a botanical garden based on the 110 plants mentioned in the Torah and in modern Israel.  As a nature-based Jewish and Israel learning center and event space, flora is used to teach Torah, celebrate holidays, and enrich Jewish traditions and practices.  

The one-acre garden is an organic learning space that utilizes water conservation techniques, biodynamic farming and composting to regenerate healthy soil and ecological systems, support pollinator species and achieve a zero-waste system.  All of this is to emphasize and teach about the Jewish values of bal tashchit (prohibition against waste) tikkun olam (obligation to repair the world) and shalom (peace).

families learning about gardening standing around a woman sitting on the ground teaching.

About Marla Bennett

On July 31, 2002, Camp JCA Shalom lost a member of its family. Marla Bennett, a native of San Diego, was one of the American victims in the bombing at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Marla grew up at Camp as a camper, CIT, counselor, unit head, and during summer 2001 she was the Program Director. During her time at Camp Marla touched the lives of thousands of campers and staff.

Marla loved camp. She was also very passionate about Israel and Jewish education. In Jerusalem, she was training at Hebrew University and the Pardes Institute to become a Jewish educator so that she could pass on her passion to others, particularly children. She was an incredible role model and a great friend.

In her memory, we created the Marla Bennett Israel Discovery Center and Garden, an interactive hands-on learning center that teaches about the land, history, and people of Israel; the flora and fauna of modern and ancient Israel; the relationship between Judaism and the environment; environmental awareness and protection; Jewish traditions, thoughts, and values; and organic gardening and farming.

For inquiries regarding the Marla Bennett Israel Discovery Garden, please contact: Becca Bodenstein.

Shemesh Farms

Shemesh Farms is an organic farm and social enterprise which employs Farm Fellows – young adults with diverse abilities and special needs. The Farm Fellows plant, harvest, curate, market, package and ship gourmet, culinary spice-salt blends and wildflower honey that are sold in boutiques and in our online store.  Additionally, Shemesh Farms holds monthly classes in the culinary, farming and nature arts for adults of all abilities. Shemesh Farms is built using universal design, allowing accessibility for people of all physicalities to meaningfully engage and work. 

Shemesh Farms utilizes sustainable and biodynamic practices to regenerate healthy soil and ecological systems, support pollinator species and achieve a zero-waste system. Our farming techniques are both in-ground as well as vertical through aeroponic garden towers.  

For inquiries regarding Shemesh Farms, please contact: Michelle Cait.

To purchase our herb-salt blends and wildflower honey, go to our Online Store.

shemesh farms employee selling plants at a farmers market.
shemesh farms jars on a table with fruits and vegetables.

Animal Center

The Animal Center is where we teach about animal husbandry, the relationships animals have to kashrut, general animal care, and about the connections with animals in the Torah. Animals are a part of our lives, and preventing unnecessary cruelty to animals, or tzaar baalei chayim, is a core value in Judaism.

girl feeding two goats.
happy dog.
large group of teens wearing white singing outside.

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