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Chuck Luchen (left) and Keith Morantz enjoy cherry pie made from the Mitzvah Garden KC cherry bushes while taking a break from their hard work.

MITZVAH GARDEN BOUNTY — It’s been a great summer for our friends who work hard — not one person ever receiving a paycheck — to till the soil and harvest fruits from the vine and veggies from the earth at Mitzvah Garden KC. Ken Sonnenschein, who chairs Mitzvah Garden KC, sent me a series of updates last week.

 

The cherry bushes — which were planted along with apple, pear, peach, strawberry, raspberry and blackberry fruit trees and plants in 2014 — produced its first batch of fruit recently. The first harvest was too small to deliver to local pantries, but Sonnenschein said they look forward to “more bounty in years to come.” The cherries didn’t go to waste, however, as Larry Lehman made a few cherry pies to share with others. This is the first year for a peach harvest, as well.

So far, Mitzvah Garden KC has harvested about 200 pounds of beets and 600 pounds of onions. In addition, about 320 pounds of cucumbers, 150 pounds of peppers and 8 pounds of blackberries have also been harvested. Once harvested, the produce goes to local food pantries including the JFS Food Pantries in both Kansas and Missouri.

“This all represents how Mitzvah Garden KC has been blessed with a bountiful harvest thanks to the hard work of our volunteers of all ages,” Sonnenschein said.

Volunteers also harvested 210 pounds of honey on Sunday, the most ever according to Sonnenschein! He said beekeeper Robert Burns and Lehman, Burns’ attentive apprentice, take excellent care of the nearly 100,000 bees in the garden.

The honey is certified kosher by the Vaad HaKashruth of Kansas City thanks to Rabbis Mendel Segal and Daniel Rockoff. The 12-ounce honey bears will be available at synagogue gift shops soon,  including at The Temple, Congregation B’nai Jehudah and congregations Beth Shalom, Beth Torah and Ohev Sholom.

And this is just one reason we say, Blessed are You, L-rd our Gd, Sovereign of the universe who creates the fruit of the earth.

Sidney Hoffman loving the first-ever Mitzvah Garden KC peach.

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK — There’s an app for putting your phone away and paying attention to those talking to you. It’s called respect. Courtesy of Torah Learning Center’s weekly eblast.