Living our Values at the Festival of Eden

Warm autumn sky, a mega-stage, bicycle-churned ice cream and over 450 people celebrating sustainable Jewish living….

On September 25, 2011, Eden Village Camp held our first annual Festival of Eden. The event was a tangible way for the community to experientially connect with principles of sustainability, environmentalism, and Jewish tradition.

Eden Village Camp nourishes the connections between self, community, earth, and spirit with socially and environmentally conscious programming that is firmly rooted in Jewish tradition. The Festival of Eden showcased this philosophy through hands-on workshops on organic cooking, fermenting, keeping backyard chickens, natural building and more. We planted a peace pole on our farm, enjoyed our petting zoo, delved into the Jewish agricultural cycles and how they relate to the holidays, made gourmet Fall soups and solar-baked cookies, embarked on a spiritual hike in the forest, enjoyed live music all day, browsed tables set up by partner organizations and a silent auction…. a smorgasbord of learning and fun!

Excellent food – harvesting, preparing and enjoying – is a major part of our ethic. The Eden Village kosher organic kitchen prepared Chimichurri Roasted Veggie Seitan Skewers with a choice of sides, as well as artisan pizza in the camp’s cob-oven, which we built last spring during the Jewish Farm School’s natural building intensive course.
The food and farm-to-table workshops at the Festival of Eden illustrate the ways in which Eden Village is redefining the conversation and practice of what is possible in institutional food. The menus are determined by what is seasonally available from local farmers, what is harvested from the Farm at Eden Village, and what available ingredients we have. All our food for summer camp and Spring/Fall programs are made from scratch, and even food staples like rolled oats, beans, and sugar are organic.

The Festival of Eden connected the broad vision of making the world a better place with the small, personal, practical steps each of us can take to live more sustainably. Participants of all ages experienced the power of creating change, and gained skills and insight: how to make kraut, how our local ecosystems and food system work, how to thrive in the outdoors, how to make fire. It was an amazing day that offered a glimpse into our deeper community – when our campers immerse themselves here for a week or more, we see their self-esteem growing in step with their awareness and awe for the organic oneness of creation.

We want to make the connective, transformative experience of Eden Village Camp possible for all kids, regardless of their ability to pay. The Festival of Eden was our first large-scale fundraiser aimed at raising money for our Scholarship Fund. We were happy that we raised about $15K! We received over $80,000 of scholarship requests last year and were not able to meet the demand by a long shot. This festival, sponsored primarily by the amazing Saul Schottenstein Foundation B, helped us tremendously in nearing our fundraising goal, and also allowed us to reach new families, campers and community partners. Wonderful all around!

We’re endlessly grateful to the many partners that make Eden Village a reality, and were glad to see, inside of the Festival, a microcosm of our camp community and vision in action. May we all be blessed with an exciting sense of purpose, resilient connections, meaningful relationships and creative fun!

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