Risa Alyson Cooper
Shoresh's Bela Farm | shoresh.ca/bela-farm
Risa Alyson Cooper in an educator, environmentalist, and pickled radish enthusiast. She completed her BA Honours at Queen’s University in Comparative Religious Studies, and her MA at the Centre for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto, focusing on Contemporary Jewish Environmental Ethics. Upon graduating, Risa moved to rural Connecticut, where she worked as a Jewish environmental educator at the Teva Learning Center. She then transitioned into small-scale organic farming as a member of the Adamah Jewish Farming Fellowship, where she grew vegetables, worked in a raw goat-milk dairy, and dabbled in the art of fermentation. In 2008, Risa returned to her native Toronto to serve as the executive director of Shoresh, and to establish Shoresh’s Kavanah Garden, bringing together her experience in Jewish outdoor education and her love for Canadian soil and the plants and people that it sustains. Risa believes that growing food sustainably is an expression of her deeply-rooted Jewish ethics, and she is eager to welcome Bela Farm’s first herd of goats.
Shoresh's Bela Farm
Currently in its early stages of development, Shoresh’s Bela Farm is a 115-acre rural center for sustainable, land-based Judaism in Hillsburgh, Ontario. Serving the Toronto Jewish community and surrounding areas, Bela Farm is a place to explore and strengthen Jewish roots through earth-based living and sustainable food production, guided by Jewish environmental and social ethics. Located in Ontario’s Greenbelt, Bela Farm will feature a farm-based fellowship for Jewish young adults as well as a series of educational retreats, workshops, and holiday-focused programs at the farm for members of the many neighboring Jewish communities. The farm will be sustained through the sale of farm products that highlight the rich relationship between Jewish tradition and local foods, such as fermented foods, cheese, honey, and meat. Bela Farm will be the largest Jewish educational farm in North America, with substantial acreage devoted to vegetable and animal production. Working closely with surrounding farms and education centers, Bela Farm will be an integrated feature of Southern Ontario’s foodshed, bringing a strong Jewish voice to local food issues.