Jewish Children’s Gardening Curriculum

Organization: Jewish Community Center of Asheville Inc., Asheville, NC

Grant Year: 2008

Project Director: Ms. Heather Whitaker Goldstein

Type of Grant: Ignition

Grant Amount: $20,000.00 (1 year)

Website: http://www.jcc-asheville.org/

The Jewish Community Center of Asheville developed The Jewish Children’s Gardening Curriculum, integrating Jewish values and culture with environmental sustainability.

The curriculum included a gardening and growing activities specific to different age groups and based on Jewish environmental values and the Jewish holiday calendar.  It consisted of structured weekly lessons, subsequent related activities to support the week’s primary lesson, related discussion topics, and activities that can be sent home with children to work on with their families.

At the completion of this grant, the JCC of Asheville documented and compiled all the lesson plans and resource material and made them available for sharing with other JCCs. The Asheville JCC staff was invited to participate as trainers for the Early Childhood track at the JCCA professional conference in 2011.

Ignition Grantee Reflections: Impacts and Learnings

“Where are we now, what did we accomplish, and what have we learned?”

“Without the Foundation’s investment, we wouldn’t have created Jewish cohesiveness in Asheville and produced something that could be used by others. It was innovation in Jewish education; there is nothing like it. So many people ‘got it’ from the start. Parents stepped up to donate money and to help build – not just crunchy granola types, but doctors and lawyers. Three rabbis came for the groundbreaking. The community valued it, too. The teachers were floored by the response at the groundbreaking – that everyone came out for something that could have been marginalized – and planted two trees.”

—Heather Whitaker Goldstein, JCC Executive Director

“This grant allowed us to realize our vision locally and to feel tremendous sense of accomplishment in seeing our ideas adopted so widely by others in the field. We continue to use the Jewish Early Childhood gardening curriculum, have expanded our gardening program to a second location; our curriculum has been adopted by the national JCC Association and is shared with JCCs all over the country and Canada; the curriculum has also been used by non-JCC Jewish early childhood programs; and we hosted a training on our garden curriculum for Early Childhood Educators of Reform Judaism.”

—Lael Gray, JCC Marketing Director and formerly Early Childhood Director