Source: The Amir Project
Amir (Hebrew for the top of the tree) is a nonprofit organization committed to the intellectual, emotional, and social development of all youth. Through experiential environmental education, specifically gardening, Amir provides children with an enlightened perspective on their relationship with others and their interaction with nature. Amir trains a select group of young adults in farming and experiential education that is then dispatched to partner summer camps across North America.
Camps pay Amir to have newly trained farmers create gardens and teach younger campers how to tend them, applying Amir's own curriculum, which includes lessons on social justice and environmental sustainability. Amir leverages the enthusiasm of college students, concerned with food justice and the environment, and the impact of summer camps to create an accessible, nationwide environmental movement for adolescents and young adults. Working with chains of camps offers Amir the opportunity to impact both the young farmers they train and the campers who learn from them.
Partner camp numbers have doubled since the program's pilot in 2010, and Amir aims to increase to 20 partnerships by 2013.
Below are some of the topics Amir uses to approach their overall curriculum for Jewish summer camps:
- Pe’ah, Leket, and Ma’aser: how do our ancient Jewish agrarian laws affect us today? Are we required to use our gardens’ produce to fulfill these laws? Are we morally obligated to feed those in need?
- “To Work and Protect our Land”: how can we communicate with our surroundings and practice proper permaculture techniques while building gardens?
- Cultivating the Negev: what can we learn from the farming practices of our Kibbutzim in the southern region of Israel? How are they conserving water and still making the desert bloom? What did our past Israeli leaders like A.D. Gordon and David Ben-Gurion think about sustainable agriculture?
- Prayer and gratitude: what do our Jewish prayers mean and what do I gain by saying them? How can gratitude affect my daily life?
- Tikkun Olam: are we responsible as Jews to heal the world? Is repairing the world, and are acts of good deeds and kindness, a universal experience or unique to my religion?