Kesher Garden springs to life

This kale, mango and pumpkin seed salad is a quick and easy summer salad idea. - Chad Coleman/Staff Photo
This kale, mango and pumpkin seed salad is a quick and easy summer salad idea.
— image credit: Chad Coleman/Staff Photo

The Kesher Garden at the Stroum Jewish Community Center is taking on a life of its own. Walking around the garden during the dismal first couple months of summer, one would wonder if the flowers and vegetables are in full bloom. They do appear to be in full bloom, looking beautiful as ever. Maybe this is because the gardeners are putting so much love and effort into their gardening skills. There are some obstacles to overcome, e.g. the learning area is having a water drainage issue. They are working on solving the water drainage issue and pushing the platform base ahead of their schedule so that the learning area can be utilized. Of course, the lack of heat and sunshine is not helping such garden plants as tomatoes and corn. But having walked around the garden on a sunny day, I assure you that the garden gets plenty of light.

There are plenty of exciting happenings going on for this learning garden. Yoel Lessing saw an article about the garden and contacted the SJCC about donating a bee hive to the garden. He, of course, would maintain this hive. He would also teach about bee hives. Unfortunately, it is too late to harvest the bee honey this year, since the honey harvesting season coincides with Rosh Hashanah. Hopefully next fall there will be a bee hive. The plan is to have a sukkot built in the garden for the ECS students to learn and see a sukkot right in their own garden. The lecture series is also coming together with the garden. With outdoor adventurists working to combine gardening and education, the next month should bring educational lectures for the garden enthusiasts.

There is still a wait list to get a garden spot. But do not despair; there are plenty of volunteer opportunities available. The new area for sustainable farming is still left bare. It is not from lack of interest, but because the funds are short. The Kesher Committee is working on finding grants to apply for to help finance the rest of this garden project. If you are interested in donating time, knowledge or funds, please visit the SJCC Web site, click on Kesher garden and follow the links to the donation site. The Web site address is:

Massaged kale salad

Recipe by: Aarti Sequeira, adjusted by Lisa Katsman


1 bunch kale (I tried this with different kales; black kale* works the best), stalks and stems removed and discarded.

Cut kale leaves match stick thin (like very thin spaghetti noodles)

1 lemon (juiced)

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

Kosher salt

2 teaspoons honey (I added more)

Fresh ground black pepper (to taste)

1 mango, diced small (about 1 cup)

Add a handful of fresh raspberries (optional)

Small handful of toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), about two rounded tablespoons

In a large serving bowl, add the kale, half the lemon juice, a small drizzle of oil (watch your drizzle, make it small) and a little kosher salt. Massage kale with your hands. This is a great way to get your kids to help and let them massage the kale.  They might just eat their creation. Massage until the Kale begins to wilt (it will resemble wilted spinach), about 2 to 3 minutes.

Set aside to prepare your dressing. In a small bowl, whisk remaining lemon juice with the honey and fresh ground pepper. Stream in ¼ cup of oil while whisking until dressing forms. I adjusted the honey (I added more), and used less oil. I also combined the ingredients for the dressing with an electric hand mixer. Pour dressing over kale; add mango and/or raspberries and pepitas. Toss and serve.

*Black kale can be found at the farmers Market or your local grocer.


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