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Jewish Agricultural Timeline


Before a long time ago

  • Humans began leaving Africa around 200,000 years ago, and were leaving en masse between 60,000-20,000 BCE,  all of them passing through what later became ancient Israel.


A long time ago

  • Adam & Eve, Gan Eden

  • Noah plants a vineyard (Gen. 9:20)

  • Avra(ha)m and Lot make pasture boundaries (Gen. 13:5-11)

  • Avraham protects his well (Gen. 21:25)

  • Avraham plants a tamarisk orchard at Be’er Sheva (21:33)

  • Yitzhak sows in Gerar and reaps a hundredfold (Gen. 26:12)

  • Yitzhak digs wells (Gen. 26:18-22)

  • Yaakov practices selective breeding (Gen. 30:37-43)

  • Yehudah sheers his flock at Timnah (Gen. 38:12)

  • Tribes migrate their flocks to Goshen (Gen. 47:1)

  • Moshe shepherds Yitro’s flock (Ex. 3:1)

  • Joshua instructs tribes of Ephraim and Menashe to fell trees for grazing land in the forests of Gil’ad and Bashan (Joshua 17:15)

  • Ruth gleans in Beit Lehem (Ruth 2:2-3)

  • Boaz stacks grain in Beit Lehem (Ruth 2:15-16)

  • David shepherds in Beit Lehem (I Sam. 16:11)



18000-12000 BCE

  • Kebaran people nomadic upper Paleolithic peoples”populated the western Mediterranean coast through the Jordan river watershed


14000 BCE

  • Natufian predecessors were the first people, again according to archaeologists, to make bread


12000-7500 BCE

  • Natufian peoples populated the Levant, creating the first sedentary and semi-sedentary/ semi-nomadic settlements in the region. They followed game through the land but also began intentional cultivation of cereals (rye and other ancient grains)


9600 BCE

  • Natufian peoples founded Jericho, the oldest settlement that still exists in the Levant and is the oldest continuous urban settlement in the world according to mainstream archaeologists


10th century BCE

  • Gezer calendar


8th century BCE

  • Israel exports wheat, honey, oil, and balm to Tyre


7th century BCE

  • King Uzziah made cisterns for cattle, farms, and vineyards and is a lover of the soil


5th century BCE

  • Nevuzaradan allows Judahite farmers to continue to work land in Israel after destruction of Temple

  • People returning from Babylonian exile restore terraces and farmland by planting vineyards and fruit orchards


3rd century BCE

  • Letter of Aristeas mentions farm productivity in Judea


164 BCE

  • Mentioned as a Shmitah year in the First Book of Maccabees


700s - 1300s

  • Jewish land ownership, culture and aristocracy thrives under Moorish rule in modern-day Spain


Before 3rd Century

  • am ha-aretz (literally “people of the land”) referred to a Jew who disregarded tithing and the norms of ritual purity (am ha-aretz lemitzvot).


After 3rd Century

  • am ha-aretz (literally “people of the land”) the word acquired the new meaning of “one who is illiterate,” someone who did not know and did not teach his sons the Torah.



  • Traveler Benjamin of Tuleda writes accounts of Jewish farmers in Mesopotamia, where Jews had been farming since the Babylonian Exile



  • Jewish farmers in Spain are kicked off their land and forced into ghettos in the cities



  • Jewish farmers lease latifundia in Ukraine



  • Portugese Don Luis de Carvajal settles and leads the Spanish Land Grant Kingdom of New Leon, bringing his family members and others to resettle with him upon learning he is a Converso. They farmed and ranched in the San Luis Valley of Colorado in the North, through Arizona, Texas (the first Spaniard to do so) and Mexico. In 1789 during the Mexican Inquisition his Jewish background is discovered and de Caravajal is sent to prison, where he dies a year later. The crypto Jewish communities he started still exist today. Not a good guy, Caravajal was a colonizer, and his job was to “discover, settle, pacify” the so called “New Spain.”




  • An early settler in Savannah, Georgia, Abraham de Lyon introduced the culture of grapes, having been a winegrower in Portugal.




  • Reuben Ezekial Battat, a Babylonian Jew, (1750-1855) owned a farm with a pond in modern day Iraq where he raised ducks and geese. According to his descendant Ezra M Battat, Rueben established the family surname from geese "bat" in Arabic.




  • Russian Empire passed the Jewish Statute, ordered Jews to leave rural areas and forbade them to rent land in the interior of Russia. The statute did, however, allow Jews to acquire land as colonists in New (southern) Russia and certain other provinces.



  • Jews from Bessarabia, Russia, attempt to establish a Jewish Agricultural Colony, "to awaken among other Jews the inclination to agricultural occupations". (Michael Tabor's maternal grandparents were part of this effort).



  • When the gold ran out in California Gulch, Colorado, Samuel and Anna Nathan and their children began farming and ranching in Beaver Creek. Their daughter was kidnapped by Native Americans and they ransomed her back. They eventually moved to Pueblo, opening the first public store in that frontier town. 



  • Many Jewish (mostly German) pioneer farmers and ranchers operated along the new railroad lines in Colorado, and throughout the west. Joe Cowan, Charles Cohan, Samuel Handelman, wheat king Simon Fishman, and the Miller Brothers (100K head of steer) among them. 




  • Founding of the Alliance Colony, the first Jewish agricultural settlement in the United States. Pittsgrove Township, Salem County, NJ

  • Founding of the Cotopaxi Colony in Colorado.

  • Michael Heilprin and HIAS took advantage of the Homestead Act when approached by immigrant miner and railroad baron Emanuel Saltiel recruited for Russian and Jewish farmers to settle his land just west of Canon City. It was a spectacular failure, apparently due to Saltiel not delivering housing, tools, and workable farmland, and three years later it folded, with surviving families forming some of Colorado’s earliest synagogues, including Zera Avraham



  • Baron Di Hirsch establishes the Jewish Colonization Association to search for farmland in countries where Jews might live free from religious prejudice and with the hope of achieving economic solvency through agriculture. This land was to be divided into farmsteads, and Jewish families from Eastern Europe were to be settled on them.

  • The JCA eventually purchases more than 1,400,000 acres in Argentina and much smaller amounts in Brazil, Canada, and the United States.

  • Founding of the biggest of the south New Jersey farm colonies, Woodbine, with support of Baron Maurice de Hirsch, who believed that farming was a healthy and ennobling endeavor that would raise the profile of the Jew no matter what external prejudice he faced.

  • The Jewish Colonization Association buys land near Karatas, Izmir, Turkey, to establish an agricultural training centre, or Yehudah, on an area totaling 30 km²




  • Establishment of smaller farming communities in the vicinity of the Alliance Community and Woodbine: The climate was similar across the New Jersey colonies on which we focus our examination of immigrant shock: Alliance, Rosenhayn, Carmel, Norma, and Woodbine. Because the soil was ill suited for growing wheat or other staple crops, farmers grew a variety of fruits and vegetables for sale at market. In particular, the colonies were renowned in Philadelphia and New York for their sweet potatoes, berries, and farm animals. This fame may have derived in part from the marketing cooperatives that the farmers organized on their own initiative, starting in 1889. The colonies expanded from 1,109 people in 1889 to approximately 2,227 in 1901 and 2,739 in 1919. The Jewish Agricultural Society attributed the colonies survival to settlers innovation, daring, and frugality.



  • Founding of the National Farm School (now Delaware Valley University), in Doylestown, PA, with the original intention of preparing Jews fleeing from the Russian Empire to farm in the United States.



  • 11.3 million Jews worldwide, estimated

  • New York, USA: Jewish Agricultural and Industrial Aid Society founded by an agreement between the Jewish Colonization Society and the Baron de Hirsch Fund. The Society aimed to encourage agriculture and resettlement of Jews from crowded cities in the countryside (Davidson. Our Jewish Farmers, 1943. 10-12.)

  • Eastern Europe: Jewish agricultural workers may have totaled 500,000 persons

  • Belorussia: 36,000 Jews in 250+ villages worked almost 6,000 farms, varying in size from 5 to 30 acres

  • The Jewish Colonization Association creates 4 new Moshavot in Israel/Palestine and establishes an agricultural training farm at Sejera



  • Chetrit Family establishes Cattle Farm in Gourama, Morocco



  • Jewish agricultural colony established in Philippson, Brazil by the Jewish Colonization Association for German Jews



  • The Jewish Agricultural Society forms out of the Jewish Agricultural and Industrial Aid Society.


  • Jewish Agricultural Society founded a publication called The Jewish Farmer, in Yiddish and English


  • Degania Alef founded where the Yarden meets the Kinneret


  • The Jewish Colonization Association buys land in the Asian part of Istanbul and founded Mesillah Hadassah agricultural colony for several hundred Jewish families


  • 5,000 Jewish farmers in the United States of America


  • Jewish agricultural colony established in Quatro Irmos, Brazil by the Jewish Colonization Association for German Jews


  • Henry Ford runs an antisemitic editorial in his paper The Dearborn Independent offering a $1000 reward to anybody who could find a Jewish farmer


  • Central New Jersey Jewish farming communities, including Tom’s River, Farmingdale, Perrineville, Flemington, Jackson, North Brunswick and others. 

  • “In the area around Farmingdale, in central New Jersey, Jewish immigrants without previous farm experience established small family farms and made New Jersey one of the leading egg-producing states in American. It became known as both the egg basket of America and the cradle of the Jewish farm movement.”


  • Edith and husband Barnett Cohen purchased a 27 acre farm from one Daniel Malloy in December in Orange CT, between the Indian River and Prindle Hill Roads. Raised hay; corn, potatoes, and misc. vegetables; apple, pear, and cherry trees; a few each of horses and cows; and a flock of chickens. Farm sold in 1936 due to legal complications regarding the mortgage. As of spring 1992, it was owned by the Cozzacrea Family.

  • 10,000 Jewish farming families or 50,000 Jews living on and working farms in the U.S, estimated

  • Flourishing of the Petaluma, California Jewish chicken farmer community, numbering about 100 families by 1925 when they opened a Jewish community center.



  • Over 5,000 Jewish farming families in Connecticut 



  • One million acres in the United States are today being farmed by Jews, and the real estate and personal property value of their holdings is over $175,000,000, according to the estimate of the Jewish Agricultural Society. Gabriel Davidson, general manager, has just issued the twenty-ninth annual report of the Society. The Jewish farm population, based on the figures of Dr. H. S. Linfield as given in his study of the Jewish population in the United States, numbers 109,600.





  • The Israeli Ministry of Agriculture encouraged consumers to go and buy Jewish grown produce as opposed to Palestinian and Arab produce (i.e, Hebrew Watermelons). This idea was influenced by the notion of avoda ivrit or Hebrew labor adopted during the late 19th and early 20th centuries that ideologically favored Jewish labor in Israel over non-Jewish labor. 


October 1930 

  • Jewish Agricultural Society hosts a 2 day conference for Jewish Farmers “Various problems connected with Jewish Farm life in the United States will be taken up by the conference.”



  • The Freeland League (an effort to find homelands for displaced Eastern European Jews), sends its director, Dr. I.N. Steinberg to Australia to negotiate the set aside of the Kimberley Region and welcome Jewish families to farm the land and establish a "Jewish" state within the country void of discrimination and with its own Jewish laws. Tasmania was also under consideration.  Negotiations went on during the war and after, eventually failing when the State of Israel was declared in 1949.



  • Jewish Agricultural Society hosts interstate Jewish Farm Conference, October 31, 1943 in NYC



  • Jewish farm population in America: 100,000 people and 25,000 families

  • The Jewish Colonization Association purchased farms and made loans to Jewish farmers in Ontario and Quebec 


  • Dr I.N. Steinberg, head of the Freeland League sends a formal letter of inquiry to Surinam Governor Dr. J. C. Brons (British Guiana), to open dialogue about setting aside land for displaced Eastern European Jews, arguing that Jews are strong and capable to do hard labor as farmers. Jews had been living equally in Surinam as land owners/farmers for at least a century. This effort, like the one in Australia 1939-1949, also failed.



  • The Absentee Property Law was passed which placed all abandoned Palestinian property in the hands of the Jewish National Fund and the Israeli Land Administration. 71 tourist and recreation sites mostly managed by the Jewish National Fund were planted over around 418 Palestinian villages depopulated and demolished in the 1948.



  • The Jewish Agricultural Society goes defunct



  • 7,000 Jewish farmers in the United States of America



  • The Israeli minister of interior signed off on the program that established Mount Carmel National Park over the ruins of the Palestinian village of Al-Tira. Non-indigenous pine trees were planted over the remains of the village as a symbol of the national restoration and redemption of Jewish land and culture in Israel/Palestine.The aesthetic presence of pine trees served to europeanize the landscape of Palestine to the extent that the Mount Carmel National Park was affectionately called Little Switzerland.

  • Sullivan County, New York dairy farmer Max Yasgur rents his Bethel farm for a little concert called Woodstock.Â



  • Michael Tabor contacts The Baron Di Hirsch Society for guidance in establishing a diaspora Kibbutz.



  • Michael Tabor and friends attempt to establish a diaspora kibbutz in Fulton County, PA. The kibbutz was unable to sustain itself financially but Mike continues to farm at the worker-run Licking Creek Bend Farm to this day. The kibbutz experiment inspired political activism within and outside of the Jewish community and several folks continued to work or purchase land for sustainable farming.



  • Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream founded.




  • Ellen Straus of the Straus Creamery co-founds the first agricultural land trust in the United State, the Marin Agricultural Land Trust. To date, MALT has protected more than 54,000 acres of Marin farmland, forever. MALT’s model of using conservation easements to prevent development has been replicated to save family farms all over the country. 


  • Samuel Kaymen and Gary Hirshberg start Stonyfield Yogurt


  • Myra and Drew Goodman start Earth Bound Farm in the Carmel Valley, today one of the largest packers of organic produce in the country. 




  • Jodi Cohen, Teva educator, starts a garden at Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT

  • Gan Chaim founded to launch Jewish garden at JCC of Atlanta.



  • Nigel Savage founds Hazon



  • Pilot season of Adamah. Gardens/hoop house, orchard planted at Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT


  • Teva launches Alumot Jewish Garden Project, starts pilot garden at Jewish Day School in Philadelphia and compiles the Alumot curriculum 


  • Adamah at Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center grows the farm: farming in the sadeh floodplain field on the Hollenbeck River, goats, etc


  • Several Teva/Adamah alumni launch the Jewish Farm School, Philadelphia, PA



  • First Hazon Food Conference


  • Pearlstone launches Kayam Farm, a Jewish educational community farm outside of Baltimore, MD



KOL Foods, regenerative grassfed aggregator,  producer and online store, launches. Within a couple years they were able to ship kosher grassfed beef, lamb and heritage poultry across the country.



  • Shoresh establishes Kavanah Garden in Toronto. In 2015 Shoresh opens Bela Farm, a much larger plot of land, and launch their land stewardship program 

  • Ekar Farm founded, Denver, CO 

  • Amir founded, has first cohort of young Jewish farmers 

  • Beta Israel Village founded near Kiryat Gat, Israel, by Hineni organization, which initiates and supports Jewish-Ethiopian mission driven communities. The farm at Beta Israel Village “is a communal-social agriculture project... that provides Jewish-Ethiopian elders with employment in agriculture, a field in which they possess traditional knowledge and to which they have a natural connection.”



  • 13.5 million Jews worldwide, estimated

  • Urban Adamah founded, Berkeley, CA.

  • Eden Village Camp founded, Putnam Valley, NY

  • Grow & Behold founded, Falls Village CT then Brooklyn, NY

  • Soul Fire Farm founded, Petersburg, NY

  • Ganei Beantown launches in Boston, MA




  • Coastal Roots Farm launches on the Leichtag Foundation’s Ecke Ranch in Encinitas CA.

  • Abundance Farm launched by Rabbi Jacob Fine, Congregation B’nai Israel, Northampton, MA 

  • Migrash Farm founded, Randallstown, MD 

  • Grow Torah begins building gardens at Jewish day schools throughout the greater New York area.




  • Leichtag Foundation hosts gathering, Jewish Community Farmer Advisory Committee, Encinitas, CA.

  • Bela Farm launched by Shoresh, Toronto, Canada

  • Living Tree Alliance land bought for US location of kibbutz-inspired community farm




  • GrowTorah launches its first 3 garden programs in Paramus, NJ, and Riverdale, NY

  • Linke Fligl founded, Millerton, NY

  • Milk and Honey Farm formally launches, founded by Becca Gan Levy at Boulder JCC, Boulder, CO

  • Jewish Farmer Network is first conceived of as a tool to bring together the movement of Jewish farmers.



  • Jewish Farmer Network founded

  • Eden Village West founded, Richmond, CA, USA

  • Sadeh Farm launched, London, UK

  • Living Tree Alliance community farm land first year of cultivation



  • The Midbar Project founded at Congregation Bet Shalom in  Tuscon, AZ by Micah Chetrit and Jackie Mendelson

  • Shemesh Organic Farm burned in the Woolsey Fire, Malibu, CA

  • Farber Farm at Tamarack Camp launched, Ortonville, MI

  • Eden Village West opens in California

  • One Soil Farm founded in Durham, NC



  • Yesod Farm+Kitchen founded by SJ Seldin and Justin Goldstein on ancestral Catawba and Tsalaguwetiyi (Cherokee) land, Fairview, NC



Cultivating Culture: A Gathering of Jewish Farmers. First annual Jewish Farmer Network conference (160+ folks in attendance)-WOOHOO!

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