Farm to Sukkah

Ep. 151: Celebrating the Jewish harvest festival with a visit to etrog farmers in California and etrog sellers on the Upper West Side, plus Jews who fled Europe to become chicken ranchers

September 27, 2018

This week on Unorthodox, we’re celebrating the Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot. Farmers and etrogs and sugar beets, oh my!

Who says Jews don’t farm? Stephanie Butnick reports from Petaluma, California, where activist Jews fleeing Eastern Europe in the early 1900s settled and became chicken ranchers. The politically minded chicken-farming Jews of Petaluma even got a visit from Golda Meir!

What’s Sukkot all about anyway? And what’s with the lulav and etrog? Liel Leibovitz and producer Josh Kross head to West Side Judaica to check out their etrog selection and chat with customers looking to stock up before Sukkot.

Where exactly do those etrogs come from? We sent our assistant audio editor Sophia Steinert-Evoy to Lindcove Ranch in Exeter, California, to visit the country’s only commercial etrog farm. It’s run by two generations of the Kirkpatrick family, who aren’t Jewish but know way more about etrogs than most Jews.

And finally, we check in with our favorite fifth-generation sugar beet farmer, Nick Hagen, and find out how his produce winds up on our tables.

Have a question for Unorthodox? Send it to [email protected] or leave a message at our new listener line: 914-570-4869. We’re also looking for stories about Jewish superstition for our Halloween episode.

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This episode is sponsored by One Day University. Get 20% off your ticket to see Mark Oppenheimer’s Oct. 14 lecture on religion in America by using the code MARK when you register at

Additional support comes from The Branch, a new podcast from Hadassah. Each episode explores how positive relationships between Israeli Jews and Arabs can bring new hope for a truly shared society. Check it out at

Unorthodox is a smart, fresh, fun weekly take on Jewish news and culture hosted by Mark Oppenheimer, Stephanie Butnick, and Liel Leibovitz. You can listen to individual episodes here or subscribe on iTunes.

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