Naf Hanau was the greenhouse manager for the Adamah Fellowship at Isabella Freedman in 2007. He began gardening at a young age with his mother, eventually running a small landscaping business in Rochester, NY for three years. Currently, Naf is a member of the New York Botanical Garden School of Professional Horticulture, which is located in the Bronx, and has an extremely long name. Naf's hobbies include: beer-brewing, sourdough baking, (recreational) lacto-fermentation, gardening, eating seasonally, and talking about food.
Naf Hanau's Website »
We’re excited to announce the launch of Grow and Behold Foods! We’re currently offering pastured chicken for pick up at five delivery locations in the NY/NJ area — order by Sunday for pick up next week! Pasture-raised beef and mail order will be available later this summer—stay tuned!
Grow and Behold Foods brings you delicious pastured meats raised on small farms nestled in the rolling hills of the Northeast. Our meats are produced in limited quantities to ensure that we adhere to the strictest standards of kashrut, animal welfare, worker treatment, and sustainable agriculture.
As I enjoy my last week of vacation before I return to New York City for school, my mind starts to wander towards all sorts of issues that didn’t really apply to me in the last year, when I was living in the woods and farming at a Jewish retreat center. The biggest one is paying rent, which I didn’t have to think about in my prime forest real estate (granted, I don’t yet have an apartment to pay rent on, anyone looking for a live-in farmer?).
Another is teaching; in the last year I’ve found that I really enjoy explaining things that I care about, but for the next two years, instead of having a relatively captive audience of Adamanicks to work with and teach, I’ll be a captive audience myself, paying very close attention to my teachers…
Book Review: Wild Fermentation
(Sandor Elix Katz | Chelsea Green Publishing)
*Stay tuned to the Jew & The Carrot in the next few days for an interview with Sandor Elix Katz and a chance to win a copy of Wild Fermentation!
When I describe my hobby of “recreational fermentation” in my urban life, I often get some funny looks. When this happens, I frequently find myself wishing that more of my friends had read Sandor Elix Katz’s pickling classic, ” Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods” - a book that brings down the ancient wisdom and practices of fermentation in simple, easy to understand language.
What is fermentation? For Sandor, also known as Sandorkraut, “fermentation is a health regimen, a gourmet art, a multicultural adventure, a form of activism, and a spiritual path, all rolled into one.” On a practical level, fermentation is the process of preserving foods while making them more digestible and nutritious through the action of beneficial micro-organisms, or “cultures.” These are the same cultures that are in your yogurt, and as Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Traditions writes in the forward, “The science and the art of fermentation is, in fact, the basis of human culture: without culturing, there is no culture.”
So what does fermentation have to do with us today, in an age of pasteurization, preservation, and refrigeration?
On this day, we ask a lot of questions. Not like Passover, when we sit and eat, laugh and make jokes, and drink our wine. On Tisha B’av we mourn our loss, as Jews, and Humans, and as Pieces of an Ecosystem. This Holiday is not meant to prod us to ask questions, but yet, when we mourn we can do almost nothing but ask, “why?” I won’t try to answer any”why?” questions, but the next question that I heard today moved me. We were discussing what it means to be mourning for the human loss, and not just the loss, and asking what we can do. What can we do, to give our lamentation meaning that lasts beyond the day of official, enforced mourning.
This past Monday I spent the morning planting tomatoes in warm fertile soil inside a heated greenhouse. It was cold outside and there was over a foot of snow on the ground, but I was wearing a t-shirt and sweating as I squatted down and planted 11 plants in each bed (at precise staggered 2 foot intervals). The previous Sunday I was wearing a t-shirt outdoors and planting root crops (carrots and beets interplanted with radishes to mark the rows) in the raised and plastic covered garden beds in the garden at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center. This is the first year that I’ve ever had the privilege to be planting in soil so early in the season.
Over the last two weeks, I’ve spent something like40 hours in front of the computer working on this years Adamah Farm Plan. Choosing vegetable varieties, checking the spacing, rearranging the crop rotation, calculating how many seeds, seed trays, and other supplies will be needed, and inventorying the seeds as they come in. When you are planting almost 4 acres; almost 200 rows of 85 ft each, you need to be organized. I’ve been working 10, 11, and even 14 hour days organizing data and choosing varieties. Last week, I actually had an extended dream involving various members of the Cucurbitacea family (watermelons, cukes, zukes, winter Squashes and pumpkins). I can honestly say that I never put this much effort into anything that I did in college… maybe 2 that papers I wrote came close to the sheer number of hours and the intensity level of this work.
So yesterday we got the first real winter storm of the season. Wednesday is usually my internship day at McEnroe Organic, but I woke up to about 4 inches of snow on the ground and freezing rain falling from the sky. I knew I wouldn’t be driving, so I headed over to the greenhouse to start my morning chores. The greenhouse was covered by about 4 inches of heavy wet snow, and sagging in a few spots. After my watering was over, I grabbed a 20 ft. length of 2×4, wrapped a shirt around one end (to keep from ripping the plastic) and went to work. Little did I know that before the storm would end I would spend about 5 hours hoisting that plank above my head to dislodge the ice build-up. I did get to take breaks from the greenhouse duty to go and shovel snow fore the retreat center. All and all, I spent almost 8 hours yesterday engaged in the act of moving snow, finally skiing home from the greenhouse at about 7:30pm.
On Monday morning I, along with two of my Jewish farming colleagues, was lucky enough to attend a rural circumcision, my first. The father was a gentile, the mother Israeli, the hosts were not very observant, and neither were most of the guests. In fact, the three farmers in flannel were the most observant Jews there, with the exception of the Litchfield Chabad Rabbi and the Lubavitch Mohel (the circumciser).
The Bris seemed to be run almost entirely by the Mohel and the Rabbi, and it brought up some interesting questions. The mother was practically invisible (though, this might be understandable), and the father only slight less invisible. It was mostly a men’s event, which makes sense as we were welcoming this baby into the Jewish Boy’s Club. On the way over, one of my compatriots mentioned that the hosts had driven to Waterbury to get Kosher bagels for the Bris, which he thought was a bit much. Do they usually eat Kosher bagels? No, but this was for the Rabbi. At the Bris I heard questions such as, “If the coffee pot has only been used for coffee, is it kosher?”
I woke up today and looked outside my window at the Isabella Freedman Jewish retreat center covered by a blanket of soff white snow. I grabbed my cross country skis and began gliding across the frozen lakes and enjoying the serenity of winter at Isabella Freedman, where the population was exactly 3 people over this Shabbat.
I’m writing this post from Oakland, Ca at the “Adamah West” house. Here live 3 Adamah alumni doing their best to live the ideals that they developed at Adamah. Having spent a few days here, I can tell you that they’re doing a pretty solid job. First of all, the house is both dark and cold, which as I’ve learned is the first step in being an environmental household: no heat, no lights. Seriously though, they pick oranges from the tree in the backyard (and give them away as party favors), the cabinet in the living room contains at least 3 different strands of bacteria fermenting various types of vegetables and other goodies, and I just enjoyed a slice of fresh bread hot out of the oven….
Today I saw my first redwood trees while hiking in the Muir Woods with two friends. I wanted to see a redwood tree up close, and Ian wanted to forage for chanterelle mushrooms. At about one o’clock we pulled off the trail into a patch of “dappled sunlight” to sit down for our bagged lunch. Before we took our first bites, Adam asked for a communal blessing over our food so I said the “Hamotzi” and Ian offered some words of thanks to the Source of food, life, fresh air, and all growing things. Since we’re Jews, we didn’t just eat; we ate and discussed, and played variations of one of my favorite games, Amateur Geologist!
The Shmorg, the famous spread at almost any Jewish celebration that preceeds the main event. Back before I was, as they say, “eco-conscious” this was my favorite part of attending a simcha. The bar, the carving station, sushi, stir-fry, salads, chinese, what more could a hungry young man ask for? And all glatt-kosher no less! Yesterday, when I was blessed to attend the wedding of a close friend from college and my brief stint at yeshiva high-school, I saw the shmorg in a new light. Mountains of meat, piles of fish, and waiters ready to take away your plate just as soon as you put your fork down for a breath, and why not? There’s plenty more where that came from! right?