David Baker said that their lives always have been centered around the kitchen and the cycles of the holidays; family life and planting and growing food have always been a significant part of his family’s spiritual life.
Baker and his wife watched as the country’s trend toward eating healthier foods grew into a system of corporate farms and high-priced natural food markets that depended on huge amounts of resources. So what started as an interest in backyard gardening to grow their own food turned into a mission to “repair the world” through community-sustained agriculture, Baker says.
The Bakers celebrate Rosh Hashana with several families in their community, including a rabbi, by having a “seder” (a celebratory meal more often associated with Passover) at which a symbolic plate of foods is at the center of the table. As with Passover, these foods help tell the story of the significance of the holiday.
Few Jewish families celebrate Rosh Hashana with this kind of seder, but for the Bakers, it helps close the circle on their agriculturally centered lives. The seder plate will hold many foods typically included at Rosh Hashana, such as leeks, spinach and potatoes, but also will have some vegetables that were particularly abundant in this year’s harvest at Primrose Valley Farm.
The rabbi, Baker says, will say a traditional prayer over each food, then offer his thoughts on how the food fits into their lives running the farm and nourishing members of the community.
Frankel also sees the Jewish high holy days — which start with Rosh Hashana and end with Yom Kippur (a day of atonement) — as a time for reflection, new beginnings and always an opportunity for learning something new.
This year, rather than relying on culinary creativity to turn late-harvest produce into a great meal, she’s committed to letting the foods speak for themselves. She sees this holiday as an opportunity for cooks to learn to do less to their foods rather than rely on complicated recipes.