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Mitzvah Garden KC creates place for unity amid civil unrest

Posted at 5:25 PM, Jun 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-21 18:41:30-04

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Calls for change and reform have taken the form of protests around the Kansas City metro, but in Overland Park at the The Temple, Congregation B'nai Jehudah, they believe change also can come from the garden.

Volunteers at Mitzvah Garden KC on Sunday celebrated a new entrance and rededicated the space to new volunteers and holistic educational programming, and they want their family to grow at the garden. Part of that is inviting people of all backgrounds, religions and races to visit Mitzvah Garden KC off West 123rd Street and Nall Avenue.

"I want to bring more people that look different than me to the garden," Gabriella Sonnenschein, Mitzvah Garden KC communication specialist, said. "I want people that come from different backgrounds to come to the garden. Because I know it’s not going to take just one type of person working at the garden. It really is a communal effort and the food tastes better when you have different types of people working together."

The vegetables and fruits grown at the garden go to the local food pantries across the city and region.

"One of the good things that we’re commanded to do is to take care of the poor and the stranger," said Ken Sonnenschein, founder and chair of Mitzvah Garden KC. "This is a great way for people to come together because there’s plenty of space here for people to easily be socially distant but still feel like they’re part of interactive community."

The goal is to be an inviting place to bring a new crop of volunteers and have deep conversations about what is going on locally and sustaining the change needed.

"I hope that gardens like this can help in a really serious way and a really direct way to the Black community, and I also think it’s just one step in the big process," Gabriella said.

A place creating unity, by something everyone needs -- food.

"We’re all the same," Ken said. "We have slightly different perspectives and ideas but we can come together in a really positive way."

Those interested in volunteering, or who would like to learn more about Mitzvah Garden KC can visit the garden's website.