To provide educational opportunities and resources to address hunger in our Jewish community at its roots, with a focus on healthy and sustainable practices.
About Giving Gardens
Giving Gardens, a program of the Max M. Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, is an integral part of Yad Ezra’s food pantry. We strive to continue to meet the needs of Yad Ezra’s clients and improve their food security and quality of life. Giving Gardens programs educate our community about the concept of farm-to-table food and offer resources and opportunities to encourage people to eat more fresh produce and be more self-sufficient.
Giving Gardens includes the Giving Gardens’ Club, whose membership is a combination of Yad Ezra clients and local community members. The onsite greenhouse and gardens draw those who are curious about gardening and knowledgeable enthusiasts alike to Yad Ezra and the Gardens.
We also have a 6000 square foot garden on the nearby property owned by Our Lady of La Salette Church in Berkley, Michigan. The combined gardens have produced a significant amount of additional produce distributed annually to our clients. Additionally, our Giving Gardens volunteer base, which is a tremendous part of our operations and process, is an eclectic cross section of SE Michigan. Jewish Yad Ezra clients in their work alongside local community members and families with children, of different backgrounds.
“The purpose of the Giving Gardens project is to merge the best that a hunger relief social service agency (like Yad Ezra) provides, with the passion, innovation and education components found in social justice work. Broadening our volunteer base to include those interested in farming and food systems enables us to expand awareness about the needs of those living in SE Michigan who are food insecure. Giving Gardens has already made strong partnerships with agencies in SE Michigan dedicated to hunger relief, sustainability and growing locally.
While Yad Ezra continues to provide free, healthy groceries to food insecure families living in SE Michigan, our hope is to raise awareness and educate volunteers, clients and supporters by bringing them together to experience the benefits of planting and harvesting produce. We are mindful of our Jewish heritage, the connection and importance that Judaism dictates to us to help and educate those in need as well as the opportunities which are being provided to view food and hunger issues more holistically.”
– Lea Luger
Executive Director at the dedication of the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation Giving Gardens project featuring the Geri Lester Greenhouse (2016)
Giving Gardens engages with many community partners including:
- Hazon: During the pandemic, the Hazon garden relief initiative supplied home gardeners with compost and connected them with the Giving Gardens club, which provided all of the other resources needed to grow their gardens. Successful home gardeners committed to and succeeded in giving their surplus harvest to Yad Ezra for client distribution during the growing season of 2020.
- Growing Pontiac: Growing Pontiac’s reach extends beyond Yad Ezra’s current community connections. In 2020 the organization distributed thousands of “grow and learn” seed pods, and educational resources supplied by and on behalf of Yad Ezra to students and foster care system families in the Pontiac area, as well as to food insecure gardeners in the general Pontiac community.
- Community Supporting Agriculture (CSA):In 2020 Giving Gardens received an anonymous donation from a supporter to begin this cutting edge model program. 17 full shares of the harvest from two Detroit farms were purchased with this donation. The bounty from those harvest shares were delivered to Yad Ezra weekly, over the course of the growing season, and distributed to 34 Yad Ezra clients who are also Giving Gardens club members. This pilot program gave these food insecure Jewish families access to weekly fresh produce, in addition to their regular Yad Ezra grocery distribution. Each family received a bountiful box of food weekly, delivered to their doors by Giving Gardens volunteers. Every 2 shares purchased by Yad Ezra was matched by the farm with a share to distribute to the local Detroit food insecure community.
- Drifter Coffee Shop in Ferndale, MI: Giving Gardens established a small herb and tea garden at Drifter. The coffee shop uses fresh cuttings from this garden in its menu offerings.
- There are several other partnerships with community organizations, farms, nonprofits and businesses that continue to grow and benefit the Yad Ezra clients and community. In addition to Giving Gardens production output, these partnerships have been interfaith and community bridge builders.