Rest and Release

Remi Welbel

, Gavrielle Welbel

Zumwalt Acres

About Remi Welbel

This year, I decided to take time away from school, where I would be a junior at Middlebury College studying neuroscience and dance, to establish a regenerative farm, called Zumwalt Acres. Along with my twin sister, Gavi, we have created an organization and emerging farm rooted in Jewish values, and dedicated to teaching, research, and fighting climate change. By integrating groundbreaking research, educational outreach, and community organizing into our farming practice, we are demonstrating how Midwestern agriculture can be integral to the fight for healthy ecosystems and communities. With a team of young farm apprentices, we are growing horticultural crops and establishing agroforestry practices, while implementing innovative carbon sequestration techniques. Currently, we are conducting field trials in collaboration with Yale University, where Gavi is studying mechanical engineering and Earth and planetary sciences, adding basalt rock dust and biochar to our soil. When basalt dissolves, the silicate compounds react with CO2, removing CO2 from the atmosphere, and converting it to calcium carbonate which is transported through the waterways and eventually into the ocean, where it combats acidification and rebuilds coral. Biochar locks carbon in a stable form and boosts soil health.Through it all, Tikkun Olam has driven us and our work.

About Rest and Release

The poem collection I wrote reflecting on Shabbat and shmita was inspired by their fundamental tenets, rest and release, and how humans are connected to the land in a sacred bond of resting every seventh cycle. At Zumwalt Acres, honoring Shabbat is a sacred practice in our community. On erev Shabbat, we gather to light the candles, sing Kabbalat Shabbat songs, and eat a delicious dinner, complete with vegan challot and vegetables we grew ourselves. After a full week of tending the land and growing our organization, we release everything we are holding—the good and the bad, the invigorating and the stressful, the joyful and the tense—to come together for Shabbat. As we sit, sing, and dine, we reflect upon and let go of the beautiful week we shared and enter into a time of menucha. On Shabbat, we give in to the fatigue of our bodies and minds and allow Shabbat to replenish us for the week ahead. Our work is truly a labor of love and Shabbat is what sustains us. It is the release, the rest, and the reset so that we may reenter the week with renewed vigor, intention, and dedication. In appreciating what Shabbat offers us, I understand what Shmita offers the land. Shmita is the Shabbat of the land. Honoring Shabbat allows us to rest from tending the land; honoring Shmita allows the land to rest from tending us. We strive to live in reciprocity with the land, as if the land were a cherished member of our community. As we sow, weed, and harvest, the land grows, loves, and gives. Just as after seven days of tending, we are in need of rest, after seven years of growing, the land is in need of rest. Together, we grow, release, and rest.