Ooctober 18th-20th 2021 – Here comes the Sun(root)!

Though autumn is officially here, our field is having separation anxiety over parting from the summer crops. True, summer vegetables have smaller yields: The last corncobs are being harvested these weeks, but other summer children are still ripening in our field. Peppers, eggplants, lubia and okra are being delivered to your homes, as we write. It’s high time to prepare your last autumn caponatas, so if you are – like yours truly – a procrastinator, you have earned one last chance…..

At the same time, the winter crops have begun crowding your boxes — Welcome, fresh salad greens and yummy cooking greens, leaf celery, beets and radishes!  Amidst this colorful assortment of summer-and-winter-mixed-into-autumn, there’s one very distinctive autumn vegetable now growing, dependably punctual and improving every dish…Can you guess who?

Yes! Introducing the incredible sunroot, aka Helianthus tuberosus, or better yet by its very confusing moniker: the Jerusalem Artichoke.

But first, a clarification: the sunroot does look like ginger, but it certainly is not ginger!

We waited for them over six months, till the bushes dried up and wilted. Only then could we chop those down and begin pulling out the secret treasures buried below – delectable, satiating bulbs that will enhance every soup, quiche, antipasti or salad. And you don’t need a lot — they can be used just for seasoning.

This great photo from Gal’s blog, Ptitim:

 

In America, they’re commonly known as “sunchokes,” but actually the title “sunroot” is an accurate description, for the Jerusalem artichoke is in fact a species of sunflower which develops an edible root bulb. The origins of this delectable bulb are in the North American East Coast from Georgia to Nova Scotia, where it has been both growing wild and cultivated in Native American vegetable gardens for years on end. The bulb fully enjoys the American sunshine and rich, fertile earth, yielding farmers and gleaners its rich roots that abound with energy and sweetness.

The Europeans, who came to visit and stayed to conquer, tasted the sunroot and loved it. The first to describe the bulb was French explorer Samuel de Champlain, who noticed it in a Cape Cod vegetable garden in 1602. He sent some sunroots to France, from where they meandered to England, Germany and Italy in the 17th century. The Italians termed it girasole, Italian for “sunflower.” Somehow the pronunciation was distorted to “Jerusalem,” and it stuck. The “artichoke” part came from the fact that it somewhat resembles the artichoke in taste. (It’s a well-known fact that chefs are blessed with a very creative imagination…)

Like any sunflower, the sunroot adores the sun and thrives during the summer. For Chubeza, this is the sixth summer we’ve watched its growth. I say “watch,” because from the moment we placed the bulbs in the earth until we plunged the pitchfork in to remove them, we really did not have much to do (aside from occasional weeding and watering). We were rather amazed at the beautiful strength of its growth, at its ability to joyfully grow wild and dare the weeds to even think of coming close. In our field, the Jerusalem artichoke is free from pests (moles and rats are their natural nemesis), which is why we could just step aside and simply watch it grow. Patiently.

Here it is going wild, blooming, growing. The Jerusalem artichoke in Chubeza:

And yes, it required much patience. The plant took its sweet time for at least seven months, growing, wilting and clandestinely swelling up its unique roots. Only by the middle of October when the foliage had dried up, we inserted the pitchfork to examine the situation, only to discover that we needed more patience. So we waited a bit longer, and now, one month later, we finally mowed down its withered leaves to pull out all these yummy, distinctive bulbs. Welcome, gals!

Though it grows underground like the potato (even if it is more stubborn and recalcitrant than the latter) and has a similar caloric value, the Jerusalem artichoke is low in carbs. Instead of starch, it contains inulin, a fruit sucrose carbohydrate, soluble in water (which is how it stores its energy in the root bulb). Inulin aids in lowering blood sugar levels, making it recommended for diabetics (contrary to potatoes!). Inulin feeds the friendly microbes in the intestines and reduces the threat of a variety of diseases. On the other hand, it may cause gas, so if you’re first beginning to eat Jerusalem artichokes, start slowly to get the body accustomed. These bulbs are an excellent source of thiamine, iron, niacin, Vitamin B3 and potassium. Chinese medicine classifies the Jerusalem artichoke as a warming vegetable which strengthens the digestive system. A great winter vegetable!

Tips:

  • The Jerusalem Artichoke must be refrigerated, preferably in a closed plastic bag or sealed plastic container, to prevent them from growing soft.
  • Most people peel them, but it can be quite a tedious task. First, you don’t have to peel them, you can simply scratch off the skin and cook or bake unpeeled. You can also steam the bulbs for a few minutes and then rub off the softened skin.
  • The Jerusalem artichoke turns black quickly after being peeled. To prevent this, place in a bowl filled with water and some lemon juice
  • And what about the well-kept secret of the Jerusalem artichokes…? The…um… gas? That gas is a product of inulin breakdown in our bodies, i.e., fructose. If it makes you gassy, best you eat in smaller quantities. Two last tips to reduce gas are: cook separately and add to a dish without the water it was cooked in, or season with cumin which assists in its digestion and reduces gas.

Check our recipe section for a variety of suggestions for cooking and serving the amazing sunroot, but feel free to add it to other familiar and favorite recipes in your own creative way. It really enhances the flavor in nearly every dish. Bon appetite!

Wishing everyone a good and healthy week,

Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Orin and the entire Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Bell peppers/eggplant/carrots/onions, Jerusalem artichoke/ Thai yard-long beans (lubia)/short Iraqi lubia/okra, lettuce, radishes/daikon, cucumbers, tomatoes/cherry tomatoes, parsley/coriander/dill, tatsoi/Swiss chard, slice of Neapolitan pumpkin, sweet potatoes, potatoes.

Large box, in addition: Red beets, New Zealand spinach/kale, celery/corn.

FRUIT BOXES:   Apples, pomegranates, avocados, oranges, bananas.

Wednesday: Bell peppers, carrots/kohlrabu/turnip, slice of Neapolitan pumpkin/onions, lettuce, red beets/daikon, cucumbers, tomatoes, parsley/coriander/dill, Swiss chard/kale, sweet potatoes, potatoes.

Large box, in addition: Jerusalem artichoke/Thai yard-long beans (lubia)/short Iraqi lubia/okra, tatsoi/New Zealand spinach, celery/eggplant.

FRUIT BOXES:   Apples, pomegranates/mango, avocados, oranges/pomelit, bananas.

October 11th-13th 2021 – I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers


Autumn’s here!
The organic fruit selection is already transforming from autumn to winter with pomegranates, apples, persimmon, bananas, avocado, mango and a wide array of citrus fruits. And, even better: prices for winter fruit are much lower than summer, thus you can get a well-stocked fruit box for less!
From this week, the price for fruit boxes (one size) is 70 NIS – no more big or small boxes. Enjoy each morsel of these absolutely delicious, super-juicy fruit boxes.
Enjoy a sweet and pleasant autumn!
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I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn’t it?
Look at these maple branches. Don’t they give you a thrill—several thrills? I’m going to decorate my room with them…

-Ann Shirley, Anne of Green Gables

They say that we have no autumn in this country, that we have only two seasons, summer and winter. They claim that autumn and spring are fictitious seasons imported by Europeans who were pining for home… And yet, it is hard to let go of them. It’s hard to resolve that we’re only willing to live within two opposites, two extremes. We would like to taste some soft middle ground, something variable and fickle, not as fixed, not as acute, not as decisive.
In our household, the closet is now a gentle autumn collaboration of good ol’ summer clothes alongside those winter clothes we dragged down from the top shelves. We wear long-sleeved shirts in the mornings and late afternoons. In the heat of the day, we even find the sun pleasant. Who would have believed this only a few short weeks ago? For me, this is proof that even in our decisive, definite and always unequivocal country, there is, after all, autumn.

The Hebrew for autumn is stav, and its Biblical connotations most likely referred to cloudy days:

For behold, the winter (stav) is past;
the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
is heard in our land.
(Song of Songs, 2:11)

The Aramaic word stava means winter, while the Arabic shita is used for both winter and rain. In searching for a word for this season falling between summer and winter, for those days when the heat is diminished and the clouds begin to gather, they took the word stav and changed it to mean autumn. These are the days in which we rediscover how beautiful the skies look when they are adorned with clouds, and how irresistible sunsets can be in those “in-between” days.

Our field is teeming with many, many weeds that are soaking up the moisture and dew and irrigation, as well as those last daytime hours of soothing sunbeams. And we lean over our field beds and pluck the weeds meditatively. The insects have sprung back into action, after overcoming the shock of the Israeli summer. They are punching gaping holes into our greens. Here and there, aphid colonies are attempting to suck something out before their natural enemy, the parasitic wasp who always follows them, gets comfortably settled in. Birds are crossing our skies again, this time on their journey south. And these same skies are no longer a blinding white, but sport a rather bluish hue, dotted by clouds. Like we said: autumn.

The field is slowly bidding the summer veggies farewell, and happily welcoming the ripening of autumn vegetables. The greens that have begun occupying your boxes will continue to do so over the next few months: Swiss chard, mustard, arugula, tatsoi and, coming soon, kale. The herbs continue to grace our presence. Dill and cilantro are recovering from the heat and are nimbly growing. The lettuce – some of you met with its bitter summery side — will grow sweeter as the temperature falls, for they no longer have to fight for their life. They can now breathe, calm down and grow with less effort.

And under the earth, protected from the heat of summer by a thick layer of dirt, the first autumn roots are growing round/long/chubby. Autumn and winter are a celebration of roots. The plants shoot their nutrients to these underground storehouses for protection and storage, while we, in our unmitigated chutzpa, rob them a bit to enjoy the nutritious culinary wealth of these bunkers. This week, we continued to pull out sweet potatoes, joined by Jerusalem artichoke, purple beets and first little radishes. The radishes are particularly piquant this season due to the heat, but as it cools down they will become less tear-inducing and tongue-burning, and milder tasting. For those of you who prefer them spicy, now is the time to take a bite. If you like them milder, wait patiently–they promise to mellow soon.

There are some other hidden roots, already planted and seeded, whose maturing we patiently await. For some, we will have to wait at least two months; others will be ready very soon: celeriac, parsley root, turnip, daikon, potato and garlic. The latter we will only meet at the end of winter, just before spring. In the meantime, lots of cute, tiny garlic stems have sprouted in our beds, peeking from the ground to check out the situation as they begin their long journey. They can take heart from the Jerusalem artichoke, which spent a similar length of time in the ground during the opposite season, and now its flowers have dried up and he is slowly marking his territory in your boxes.

The broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, and cabbage are no longer invisible. The first round is already strong and impressive. We will give them the time they need to develop the inflorescence scalps we’ve missed so much. For the time being, the plants themselves must strengthen and grow, after a not-so-easy time over the end of summer. When we plant them in mid-August, we spread a net over the saplings to provide relief from the scorching sun. By the time we plant the Autumn Brassicaceae’s, we no longer need artificial shade. The wispy clouds and lower temperatures make their acclimation easier. Right now, the field is hosting several rounds of kohlrabi, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbages, and soon-to-come are other members of this joyful autumny-wintery family.
The last of the summer vegetables still occupy the field, somewhat startled by the cool air but holding on, albeit slowing down a bit. They will remain till the arrival of the cold weather and rain. Splendid eggplants are ripening on the plants, and short and long lubia continue to yield till they hand over the torch to the next runners in the legume relay race: the green bean and pea, both already blooming in good health. The okra is making its final attempts to produce pods and seeds, but its sojourn at Chubeza is already short-lived. Now is the time to blanch and freeze the okra for wintertime use. The red bell peppers are squeezing out every drop of heat and sun, to spur their efforts to redden and ripen.

We’ve harvested our last popcorn bed and are distributing these tough little cobs. Do not be confused– these are not sweet corn cobs, and even a long and stubborn cooking won’t soften them. Details and recipes for popcorn can be found in this newsletter.

Take a look at your boxes: The corn dwells with the Swiss chard and the pumpkin lies down with the beet. What an enchanting season! The field is verdant, with the transformation from summer to winter quite palpable in the air. The renewal and energy of the new vegetables infuses us with new energy as well (as will a drop in temperature, we must admit…) We are bidding farewell to a flaming summer, hoping to be met with a rainy winter, satiated by timely showers of the right quantities at the proper intervals.
May we all be blessed with a great month of Cheshvan, full of happy new beginnings, the pleasures of a temperate season and the first baby steps into a New Year, and a smooth Acharei HaChagim entry into this season of change and renewal.

May we have only good, healthy days,
Alon, Bat-Ami, Dror, Orin and the Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Bell peppers, cherry tomatoes/Thai yard-long beans (lubia)/okra/short Iraqi lubia, arugula/tatsoi/basil, bunch of radishes/red beets, cucumbers, tomatoes, parsley/coriander/dill, lettuce, slice of Neapolitan pumpkin/carrots, sweet potatoes, corn/ potatoes.

Large box, in addition: Eggplant, popcorn/Jerusalem artichoke, New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard.

FRUIT BOXES: Apples/persimmons, avocados, mangos/pomegranates, oranges.

Wednesday: Bell peppers/eggplant/onions, Thai yard-long beans (lubia)/okra/short Iraqi lubia/Jerusalem artichoke, arugula/tatsoi, bunch of radishes/red beets, cucumbers, tomatoes, parsley/coriander/dill, slice of Neapolitan pumpkin, New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard, sweet potatoes, potatoes.

Large box, in addition: Carrots/cherry tomatoes, lettuce/basil, corn.

FRUIT BOXES: Apples, avocados, mangos, oranges.

What’s in this week’s box?

This week we take a break from the weekly newsletter and send you only the list of what is in the box – we will return next week with renewed strength –

Enjoy your week!

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Thai yard-long beans (lubia)/short Iraqi lubia/okra/popcorn, parsley/coriander, slice of Neapoli pumpkin/carrots, eggplant/onions, bell peppers, lettuce, Swiss chard/New Zealand spinach/basil, cucumbers, tomatoes, sweet potatoes. Small boxes only: cherry tomatoes/potatoes.

Large box, in addition: Cherry tomatoes and potatoes, leeks, small radishes/arugula/tatsoi.

FRUIT BOXES: Mangos, pears/red apples/avocado, pomegranates, banana. Large boxes: Greater quantities of these, plus persimmons.

Wednesday: Thai yard-long beans (lubia)/short Iraqi lubia/okra/popcorn, parsley/coriander/dill, eggplant, bell peppers, lettuce, Swiss chard/New Zealand spinach, small radishes/basil, cucumbers, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, cherry tomatoes.

Large box, in addition: Potatoes, slice of Neapoli pumpkin/leeks, arugula/tatsoi.

FRUIT BOXES: Mangos, red apples, pomegranates, banana. Large boxes: Greater quantities of these, plus persimmons.

September 19th 2021 – Come join us on Friday!

We’d like to remind you that this week we are not sending vegetables boxes, but we invite you to come and visit us – This Friday, September 24th between 10:00-13:00 is our Sukkot Open Day and we’d be delighted to have you join us!

The Open Day gives you a chance to see where your vegetables are growing, to get a close-up look at them in the field, and to smell, touch, taste. And of course, you get the chance to meet us, the faces behind your veggie boxes, as well as your fellow Chubeza members who create the community that supports local small agriculture and makes the farm a reality.

We’ll have:

Field Tours: every hour – Come wander between the beds, meet the plants and the stories that accompany their growth. Alon is leading a more “professional” tour; Bat-Ami’s tour is designed for kids. Tour schedule (more or less…): 10:00, 11:00, 12:00.
Arts & Crafts Corner – This year we focus on circularity and renewal – to remind us that these corona years will be evantually over, and they will be just a chapter in the mandala of history and our lives: we will make seed balls (from paper or soil) that can be put in a planter or pot – water and grow at home happy greens you can snack on for fall meals.
Yoga workshop for couples (parent and child, two children, two adults …) led by Einat – an introduction to several yoga poses as a connecting activity between two. Will be held at 12:00 p.m. Feel free to come in comfortable clothes and bring a yoga mat (not required).

Due to corona restrictions there will be no food-related activities this year: unfortunately we will not be able to offer vegetables for refreshments and we will also avoid the traditional cooking activities. You are welcome to bring a picnic from home, and drinking bottles (there will be cold water for refilling, of course) – we have also prepared for you our famous corn stalk Sukka, plentiful shade and fresh air..

Vegetables, fruits and additional homegrown products will be available for purchase at our produce stand during the festival.

Driving directions to the open day festival here.

Come one! Come all! See you soon!

Chag Sameach,
Alon, Bat-Ami and the Chubeza team.

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POPCORN!!!

Last Friday I was accompanied to the Chubeza field by two very sweet kids who just started First Grade (but haven’t really been able to step foot in the school yet thanks to holidays/isolations/rumors of isolations, etc.). After making the rounds to say hi to the chickens, the orchard, a roly-poly bug, and a tractor they admired, they sat with me in the office and reported that …..they were bored. I sent them to the Packing House to see if anything there may be of interest, and they returned with……dry corn. Those two made the absolutely best choice. True, they’re now the Little Guys in school, but they recalled their Chubeza vegetable studies! They knew that this was not cooking corn, but popcorn!! And with endless patience (and giggles each time a kernel jumped up their nose) and great pride, they hauled their treasure home, straight to the popper.

So, in honor of Noga and Atai, and all their fellow brave new First Graders in the midst of the Corona commotion, this week’s Newsletter is devoted to that hard, shrunken corn that you received in your box (or will receive in the coming weeks), the popcorn that proves that if you give even the hardest, most rigid clench a little warmth, patience and trust, it will bounce and burst and find its very own inner softness as well.

Traditionally, the end of each summer heralds the popcorn season. Over the next few weeks, you will be receiving smaller and stiffer corn cobs than usual. Don’t toss them out figuring Chubeza’s crop went bad this week. These are actually rare, delectable treats. It’s popcorn!

To celebrate this joyous corn creation, we are proud to present our traditional Popcorn Newsletter. Settle back in your chairs and enjoy the show!

Back around 3500 BC in a cave in North America (somewhere central-west of today’s New Mexico), the guys were hanging out together, glued to the TV of the era, the blazing campfire. As the flames danced and brought joy to their hearts, they had to nosh on something. But for reasons that remain shrouded in mystery, they somehow did not polish off everything from their plates. Remains of that late-night-nosh were discovered over 5000 years later by archaeologists in 1948, in what became known as world’s oldest popcorn. (It still looked quite crunchy and yummy, but a tad too stale to nibble on.)

The popcorn is indeed a special species of corn, small and hard. They were seeded in March along with the first round of corn, but after the plants grew dark red-bearded cobs, we cut off their water and allowed the cobs, smaller than the sweet corn variety, to fully mature and dry on the stalk. Last week we picked the dry, hard cobs and stored them in our warehouse for further drying and hardening. How wonderful to munch on food that bears a history of thousands of years of noshing!

Popcorn comes in many colors and forms. Here are a few of them:

A particularly cute type is strawberry popcorn, which looks like this:

Native Americans used popcorn even before they discovered the corn we know and love so well. They probably fell onto popcorn by chance, as some random kernel rolled into the fire and suddenly popped. This surely led to attempts to reenact the wonder, and later to make it an institution. In ancient times, they would roast the popcorn by heating the cobs over a direct flame or in a pit in the ground filled with sand and heated to a high temperature. The cobs were placed into the pit whole, and the kernels would pop on the cob, wrapped in its sheaf and protected from the sand. Prehistoric cooks also made special utensils to roast this snack, clay pots with feet to place atop the fire.

Primeval Americans used the popcorn not only as nosh. They made soup and beer out of it, and used popcorn as a decoration in ritual ceremonies as well as for jewelry and head ornaments. Tlaloc, the Aztec God of Rain and Fertility, was adorned with popcorn-string necklaces, and the God of Water and Protector of Fishermen would receive an offering of “hailstones” made from popcorn. Europeans who arrived ashore were also welcomed with gifts of popcorn necklaces, and to this day there are those who decorate their Christmas trees with fresh, aromatic popcorn.

One modern, non-conventional popcorn-based attempt—which ultimately failed—was to use popcorn as an ecological, biodegradable substitute for Styrofoam packing material. You must admit that this is a very captivating idea, yet sadly the popcorn’s natural appeal attracted insects and other pests and organisms to the party. The popcorn completely lost its beneficial packing qualities when wet, and was prone to flammability. Alas.

Popcorn, or in its scientific name, Zea mays averta, is a subspecies of flint corn. Flint corn got its name from its hard-as-rock shell, one of the required components for popping. Also required are a proper level of humidity and a high level of starch within the kernel. Due to the kernel’s hard shell, when it’s heated, the moisture locked inside turns to steam and the pressure builds up. The starch inside the kernel gelatinizes and becomes soft and pliable. The pressure continues to mount until reaching the breaking point of the hull:  the steam forcefully explodes, exposing the soft starch. The starch expands and dries rapidly to become the dry, crispy, puffy foam we call popcorn.

Watch this movie demonstrating the process in very dramatic slo-mo

Some Tips:

– For the foam to dry quickly, place the kernels in a pot in a thin layer to create crispy popcorn that will not reabsorb the moisture from the pot.

– FYI, popped popcorn kernels expand exponentially beyond their original size. Two tablespoons of raw popcorn kernels produce 2 ½ cups of the popped product!

– In its natural form, popcorn is an excellent choice for a healthy snack. Air-popped popcorn is naturally high in dietary fiber, low in calories and fat, and is both sodium and sugar free. This, of course, relates to clean, fresh popcorn, minus the addition of butter and oil, salt or caramel that transform it from a handsome prince to a scary toad.

Storage: Popcorn kernels might look tough, but they won’t stay that way unless you treat them properly. Storing popcorn in the fridge may dry it out or make it too moist to allow popping. Best to keep popcorn kernels in a dry, dark cupboard away from heat, moisture and light. It is advisable to separate the kernels from the cob and store in sealed jar, ceramic container or sealed tin.

Here is how you do it, starring: Chubeza Popcorn as himself, AND Talia’s hands, the hands which rock the Chubeza website. (Talia doubles as our website-wizard…)

Making quality popcorn is an art in itself. The quality and quantity of the popping depends on the rate at which the kernels are heated. If heated too quickly, they’ll explode before the starch in the center of the kernel can fully gelatinize, leading to half-popped kernels with hard centers (formerly the hull). The tip of the kernel, where it attached to the cob, is more sensitive than the rest of the hull. Heating too slowly will crack the tip and allow steam to escape, preventing the build-up of pressure and the ultimate popping. In the past, making popcorn in a pot was a task that required training, specialization, and great skill. In today’s era of the microwave and automatic popcorn-popper, everything is so much simpler, but still it’s a good idea to put aside a few kernels and try the old-fashioned popping method of yesteryear.

Popping Instructions:

In microwave: Place small quantity of kernels (approximately 2 T) into a paper bag you received in your box (make sure it’s dry and not torn), and fold the edge of bag to seal. (At last: a way to re-use those paper bags!) Set timer for 2-3 minutes, and listen carefully. After a few seconds the kernels will start popping loudly, setting the bag into a lively, throbbing rumba. When 3 seconds without any popping have elapsed, remove paper bag from the microwave. Caution! It’s hot. Make a small opening for ventilation; allow steam to escape, and then cool. Add the seasoning of your choice and nosh away.

In a pot: (from the website of Kibbutz Sha’ar Hagolan)

You will need: Popcorn. A pot. Oil.

We all know the black and sooty telltale spots shamefully lining the pots, reminding us of unsuccessful popcorn, or the sad “old maids,” the un-popped kernels that will never receive another chance.

Here’s how to avoid these embarrassing failures, step by step:

The Pot: Use a wide, tall pot so the kernels have room to expand.

The rule is 3 T oil for each ½ – ¾ cup of popcorn. The oil should cover the bottom of the pot and coat each kernel. (You can combine oil and butter, if desired.)
Step 1: Pour the oil and wait a bit till it warms up. (Can use one or two kernels to test.) When oil-bubbles form around kernel, it’s time to start.
Question: Should we toss the kernels?
A: In the beginning of the process, you can give the pan a little shake to arrange the kernels in one layer and for the oil to cover.
Step 2: Leave the kernels on medium heat. When you start hearing the first to pop, lower the flame.
(Babysitter: Keep an eye on them. This is no time to check your email.)
Listen to the sound of the popping kernels. When the popping diminishes, it’s time to turn off the flame. Do not open the pot till you hear the silence of the all-popped popcorn.

To all of Chubeza’s First Graders, we wish you and every new student great years ahead of wonder and fascination, friendship and play, enjoyment and happiness!

Wishing you all a good week. Enjoy the autumn breezes that are already here, and a joyous Sukkot!

Alon, Bat-Ami, Dror, Orin and the entire Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Sunday: Bell peppers, Thai yard-long beans (lubia)/short Iraqi lubia, Swiss chard/New Zealand spinach/basil, eggplant, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, slice of Neapolitan pumpkin/butternut squash, sweet potatoes, potatoes.

Large box, in addition: Leeks, cherry tomatoes/okra/popcorn, parsley/coriander,

FRUIT BOXES: Small boxes: Apples, pears, mangos. Large boxes: Greater quantities of all of the above, plus grapes.

September 13th-14th 2021 – WHAT’S IN A SEVEN?

THE NEW YEAR HOLIDAY CHUBEZA DELIVERY SCHEDULE:

Yom Kippur Week:
Monday, September 13 delivery will be as usual. Wednesday deliveries will be moved up to Tuesday, September 14.

Beginning of Sukkot Holiday Week:
Monday deliveries will be made on Sunday, September 19.
No delivery for Wednesday customers (unless we’ll notify your differently by email)

End of Sukkot Week and Beginning of Simchat Torah:
During this week, Wednesday deliveries will take place on Wednesday, September 29.
There will be no Monday delivery.

Over Chol Hamoed there will be no vegetable deliveries. But we greatly hope to renew our longtime annual tradition (so rudely interrupted by Covid) to host you at Chubeza’s Open Day at the Farm. Details to come once we receive the government guidelines. We can’t wait to welcome you back, and fervently hope that all will take place as planned.

OUR BEST WISHES TO YOU FOR A WONDERFUL, HEALTHY & HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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The Sabbath Year, the Year of Shmitta

Welcome to the New Year 5782! Aside from it being a new year, it is also the seventh, the Shmita (שמיטה) sabbatical year. As is our custom every seven years, when we encounter another “seventh,” we give you a glimpse at Shmita and Chubeza’s mode of action throughout this special year.

Let’s start at the very beginning. In the Bible, Shmita is mentioned in two places from which the various laws eventually stemmed. The first time was at Mt. Sinai itself:

The Lord said to Moses at Mount Sinai, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you, the land itself must observe a Sabbath to the Lord. For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops. But in the seventh year the land is to have a year of sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards.  Do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land is to have a year of rest.  Whatever the land yields during the sabbath year will be food for you—for yourself, your male and female servants, and the hired worker and temporary resident who live among you, 7 as well as for your livestock and the wild animals in your land. Whatever the land produces may be eaten. (Leviticus 25, 1-7)

The second time it’s mentioned is in Moses’ speech in the Book of Deuteronomy, just as the Israelites are preparing to enter the Land of Israel:

At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts. This is how it is to be done: Every creditor shall cancel any loan they have made to a fellow Israelite. They shall not require payment from anyone among their own people, because the Lord’s time for canceling debts has been proclaimed. (Deuteronomy 15, 1-2)

Even at first glance, it is evident how different these two sources are. The first is agricultural and ecological, with an emphasis on the land resting, the earth taking a sabbatical and the prohibition against carrying out specific farming actions. The second source is of socio-economic relevance, with a commandment to forfeit debts and a prohibition to demand their payment.

From this very prominent difference, it may seem at first that we are discussing two very different matters that have been clumsily clumped together. On second glance, these two aspects of Shmita in fact complement each other. Shmita is asking us to forfeit our ownership of land, achievements and property, inviting us to remember that we are merely a component of the universe, not the center of it, and we are not the ones who run the business. This invokes modesty and humility. The outcome of the internalization is to refrain from forcefully working the land, even if it is a “positive” use of force, as well as from conducting forceful actions against our fellow men and women.

Tractate Shvi’it in the Mishna, a chapter dedicated to the various laws concerning the year of Shmita, commences in a discussion about the agricultural conduct over during the seventh year: “Till when does one plow the orchard on the eve of the seventh year?” (Shvi’it 1,1) As it continues, the Rabbi’s deal with the socio-economic aspect: “The Prozbul does not require the cancelling of debts. This is one of the laws Hillel instituted when he realized the people of Israel are refusing to loan money. (Chapter 10, Mishna 3)

What is this Prozbul (פרוזבול) initiated by Hillel the Elder? The Prozbul is in fact a bill of loan that bypasses (with the consent of all parties and the confirmation of the Beit Din court) the Biblical commandment to forego the debt. According to the Biblical commandment, a debt that was not repaid by the seventh year is revoked, but, as the Mishna explains, this creates a complex problem: people were refusing to loan money to those in need, for fear of their loan being annulled (similar to banks who only lend to those who are able to return the money, not to those who actually need it…). Hillel realized the Torah never intended to make life harder for the needy or the weak or anyone who simply wants to make a living. On the contrary, which is why in order to encourage loans, he instituted the Prozbul – a foregoing-bypassing bill.

Fast-forward to the days of the first agricultural settlements in Israel, some 130 years ago, when the pioneer Jewish settlers arrived in Palestine. They devised a solution that serves in many ways as a “Shmita bypass,” similar to the Prozbul – the “Heter Mechira” (היתר מכירה).

Life was not simple for the pioneer farmers of the First Wave of immigration. These novice farmers were inexperienced, the land they bought was not particularly fertile, the climate and crops were unfamiliar, etc. Although most of these early settlers adhered to Jewish law, the commandment to keep the 1889 year of Sabbatical seemed a frightening contradiction to the basic necessity for food. If they took a break from working the earth for an entire year, how on earth (pardon the pun) would they earn their bread? In addition, there was the fear that by letting the land lie fallow, their non-Jewish farming competitors would gain the upper hand.

These reasons led to the solution of a Heter Mechira, supported by rabbis from the Diaspora. The Jerusalem Ashkenazi rabbis were highly opposed to this solution, which in essence does away with the commandment of Shmita. Thus, the “Shmita Controversy” followed. What was it about? The Heter Mechira allows for a temporary sale of the land to a non-Jew. In such a case, the Jewish farmer is enabled to work the land during this year, similar to the way Israeli Chametz is temporarily sold to non-Jews every year on Passover. Selling the land to a non-Jew rids the need to adhere to Shmita, as only Jewish landowners are obliged to keep the commandment. Fruit that grows on land not owned by a Jew does not hold the sanctity of that grown during the Sabbatical Shmita year.

Supporters of Heter Mechira view the situation differently. Shmita is part of a greater commandment of Jubilees. The Shmita sabbatical year takes place every seven years, culminating after seven Shmita rounds in a fiftieth “Jubilee Year.” During this period, all the land purchase agreements which took place over the previous 49 years are annulled, kind of like “rebooting” your system, and all the lands return to their rightful owners (via the original land distribution to tribes). However, the Jubilee laws do not hold these days, only when Israel is governed by a monarchy, the Sanhedrin and other governmental and political conditions that are irrelevant today. And this is what the Yerushalmi Talmud has to say about these matters:

Vezeh dvar hashmita-shmot –there are two Shmitas, namely Shmita and Yovel. When Yovel is applicable, then Shmita is practiced by Torah ordinance, but now that the Yovel year is no longer applicable, Shmita is practiced ‘from the (Rabbi’s) words’” (Shvi’it Yerushalmi, 10:2)

Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi connected Shmita and Yovel, stating that upon ceasing to obey the laws of Yovel due to historical reasons (the dispersion, etc.), Shmita, too, is not relevant.

Rav Kook, the chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv and the first Jewish settlements in Israel, who supported Heter Mechira, even brought up the Talmudic precedent of taxes and Rabbi Yannai. Due to heavy taxes imposed upon the habitants of the country by the Roman government, in an economy that was largely based upon agriculture, ceasing to work your land would bear grave consequences. Rabbi Yannai thus sent the farmers to break the laws of Shmita and plant during the seventh year. Rav Kook quoted this story and claimed that the reason Rav Yannai called for seeding the land is because the land was in fact owned by non-Jews to whom the Jewish farmers were forced to pay taxes.

Today the Heter Mechira is the solution for most of the vegetables grown in this country, and we at Chubeza will be using it this year.

To conclude, I want to note one final fascinating way to allot significance to the seventh year, by a movement named “Israeli Shmita”.

In their words: The Hebrew Calendar is a cycle of six years of doing, followed by a year that is a “Sabbath of the Land.” A year in which the land itself “celebrates” the Sabbath, and each and every one of us is invited to partake. This year, property is not everything, time does not press, and nature is much more than resources to take advantage of, and we are called to be better and more empathetic versions of ourselves. Israeli Shmita is an initiative aimed towards introducing us to the ideas and values behind Shmita and allow us to accept the invitation of this special year by breathing, learning, connecting to the community and close environment and taking part in a year of healing and repairing.

Their website has a host of ideas and thoughts on this subject.

We wish you a year that holds some of the peace and release of Shmita, a time to stop and take a deep breath, and an observation of the many wonders surrounding us.

Wishing you happy holidays.

Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Orin and the entire Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Bell peppers, Thai yard-long beans (lubia)/short Iraqi lubia/ okra, parsley/coriander, eggplant/potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, slice of Neapolitan pumpkin/butternut squash, sweet potatoes, corn/popcorn.

Large box, in addition: Leeks, green soybeans (edamame)/cherry tomatoes, New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard.

FRUIT BOXES: Small boxes: Pomegranates/bananas, mango, grapes, pears.

Large boxes: Greater quantities of pomegranates/bananas, mango, and grapes, plus nectarines.

Teusday: Bell peppers, Thai yard-long beans (lubia)/short Iraqi lubia/okra, New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard/basil, eggplant/potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, slice of Neapolitan pumpkin/butternut squash, sweet potatoes, corn/popcorn.

Large box, in addition: Leeks, parsley/coriander, cherry tomatoes.

FRUIT BOXES: Small boxes: Bananas, mango, grapes, pears.

Large boxes: Greater quantities of pomegranates/bananas, mango, and grapes, plus nectarines.