By Teri Jedeikin
Kayam Farm Multicultural Educator
True to its name sake, The Matriarch’s Orchard watches over Kayam Farm from its place upon the hill. Its landscape, gently sloping towards vineyards and strawberry patches, is rich with fruit trees, berry bushes and spiritual symbolism. It is a space created by women for women – a radical innovation that invites Jewish women to engage with each other and with all women of diverse ages and heritages.
The orchard is an ecological and spiritual learning space where integration of mind, body and spirit is the key to maintaining a healthy garden and healthy selves. As you enter through its lilac and raspberry walkway, you shall start to discover how the orchard is pioneering a new path to women’s wellness…
A healthy mind needs to be nourished with positive psychological and mental stimulation.
An initiative that brings together cultural learning, feminism and ecological involvement yields an abundance of food for thought. The orchard lends itself to rich educational programming geared towards raising levels of social, ecological and emotional awareness. Together we learn about our traditional matriarchs of the Torah, their relationships to the land and to us. We also celebrate matriarchs within our contemporary Jewish history by learning from great female icons and educators of our time.
Co-creating an intentional ecological space, also opens up an exciting new world of ecological knowledge from traditional plant medicine to Permaculture principles of design.
The physical health benefits of organic gardening need no introduction. In these frenetic times, feeling our hands in the soil, our fingers entwined with plant roots, grounds us to our own foundations. Breathing in the fresh farm air, feeling the morning sun on our skin, enlivening our bodies with gentle physical exercise is a recipe for rejuvenation. However, something even more therapeutic happens when we work together, sharing in the experience as women and as community. We have fun!
Kayam Farm is more than just a farm. It grows food and friendships. It cultivates community and crops. In this spirit, the Matriarch’s orchard seeks to maintain harmony between people, culture, and the Earth. Each fruit tree and herb plant has been consciously selected for its feminine symbolic or medicinal properties. Moreover, many of them tell stories of the special feminine life cycle events for which they were planted.
Trees are a powerful motif in our Jewish tradition and, as such, the practice of orchardry resonates with such themes as the “Tree of Life” and the “Tree of Knowledge.” Additionally, there is the Talmudic teaching, “As my ancestors planted for me, I plant now for my children and my children’s children.”
This is what the spirit of the orchard is all about. We are growing a Jewish women’s community through this grassroots initiative. Our trees are enriching Jewish communal life and knowledge. We may not see all of the fruits immediately, but we are sewing the seeds for the sustainable and healthy future of Jewish Baltimore.