January 24th-26th 2022 – Frigid Air

Slow, Slow, Fresh Fount

Slow, slow, fresh fount, keep time with my salt tears;
Yet slower, yet, O faintly, gentle springs:
List to the heavy part the music bears,
Woe weeps out her division, when she sings.
Droop, herbs and flowers,
Fall grief in showers;
Our beauties are not ours:
O, I could still,
Like melting snow upon some craggy hill,
Drop, drop, drop, drop,
Since nature’s pride is, now, a withered daffodil.

Ben Jonson

These past few weeks have been freeeeeeezing! During the day we are mummified in warm clothes, rubbing our hands together again and again, jumping up and down to warm our toes… Even on sunny days, it’s hard to defrost, and most of the time any warmth is temporary for just a couple of hours in the afternoon, after which the frigid air descends upon us with a vengeance. The vegetables in the field are also feeling the cold weather and acting as if they’ve been placed into a refrigerator. (Actually, the temperatures are pretty close to a refrigerator’s. Sometimes walking into our great big fridge feels like we’re just outdoors.)

So what does lettuce do in the cold weather? Just like the bears, she withdraws into herself, cutting back on energy, and sinks into a deep, hibernating sleep… The vegetables are growing so s-l-o-w-l-y that it seems as if nearly nothing has changed from week to week. Though the carrot and beet both store their sugar in the bulbs of their roots and we get to enjoy their wintery sweetness, they do take their time thickening up and getting ready to be harvested. It’s like everything is happening in slow motion, as if someone is slowing down the speed of the projector. We work hard in the field, but upon our return the next day, it seems like nothing has really changed.

We’re familiar with this time of year and always attempt to prepare for it ahead of time, which is why over the warmer months of autumn we were very busy seeding and planting, getting things ready before the cold weather sets in. But now, from December to February, we halt the planting. This, after realizing that the vegetables planted and seeded in the very cold weather do not really come along, and that there is nothing to be gained by plunging new plants or seeds into the cold soil (even when it’s in the 10-degree vicinity). If we plant them now or at the end of the month, it’ll still be the same. So we wait and try to remember that the days are growing longer (very slowly….. you get the idea by now…) and soon there will be more hours of light and perhaps even warmer afternoons. In the meantime, the cold makes it easier with the weeding chores, as even weeds grow a little slower. We try to move around a lot, preferably at a swift pace, just to warm up a tad.

Unsurprisingly, the plants most influenced by the cold weather are those who prefer warmth. Our cucumbers and tomatoes, for instance, are relatively protected under plastic-covered growth houses where they are isolated to an extent from the harsh cold. Last week, we had one night of frost – the result of very cold air. Cold air is denser than warm air, which is why it drops and then settles on the plants, specifically those closest to the ground. When it is bitter cold, the moisture freezes on the plants, especially in the arteries of the leaves, and because frozen water expands, it bursts open the plant arteries and damages them.

There are three main types of frost:

Radiation frost is the most common frost that occurs on clear (cloudless), dry (low humidity) and quiet (windless) nights. In these cases, the air temperature near the surface and below is nearly at zero, and the local temperature drops. This type of frost is dangerous in valleys and plains such as ours.

A second type is the Advective Frost which occurs at low temperatures, created by cold air that blows into the region along with rain/hail, or right afterwards from somewhere else. With this type of frost, the higher areas are also affected by the cold air.

The worst of the three is Combined frost: a continuous and extreme event that combines radiative and advective frost. This type is characterized by very low daytime and nighttime temperatures and low humidity. It lasts longer, thus inflicting more severe damage on agricultural growths.

When the forecast called for frost one night last week, we added a shade net over the tomato and cucumbers’ growth houses, providing an additional layer of isolation and preventing the warmer (or rather – less frozen) temperatures from escaping. We also opened the flap on the lower side of the premises to allow the extremely cold air that accumulates in the lowest part to flow outward.

Happily, the frost wasn’t too extreme, and the cucumbers and tomatoes had a peaceful night. Under the growth house, we covered the greens in cloth to protect them from the frost, and they too were fine. We don’t worry about the strong winter crops – cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli, kohlrabi and fennel, or the roots that grow under protective soil. The only one who suffered some damage is the snow pea, which grows high in the open field, and is thus impossible to swathe in cloth. The frost created a whitish net on some of the pods:

Though it doesn’t completely ruin the poor peas, we definitely recommend eating them quickly and not keeping them shivering in the refrigerator.

The cold weather affects the cucumbers and tomatoes, significantly slowing down their development. They are simply standing still. Thus, we had fewer cucumbers to add to your boxes this week. We attempted to buy cucumbers from other organic growers, but unsurprisingly, we’re all suffering the same shortage (even in the Arava). Instead, we were able to purchase yummy sweet red peppers which replace the cucumbers this week. We now await a major growth spurt in our green pals.

This week, your boxes will also include broccoli greens. Usually we only harvest the broccoli, leaving the greens in the field. But, like all other vegetables, the “regular” leaves grow slowly and rest a lot. When the sun comes out, they open one eye and try to shake off their slumber, but at this stage it resembles my attempts to wake up my daughters in the morning (“I heard you and i’m getting up, it only looks like i’m still under the covers”). In my experience, it takes a lot more rays of sun and convincing and reminders and scolding for the leaves to break into a growth dance. In all fairness, we have been getting in their way a lot by cutting away at them to place greens in your boxes… In the interim, the broccoli leaves, planted in the autumn and growing on the strong bushes, were able to grow undisturbed and act as solar thermal collectors that yielded excellent broccoli inflorescence. Now, after the broccoli has been harvested, we decided to pick fresh bundles of its greens.

The broccoli greens in your boxes are mature leaves. Use them as you would Swiss chard or kale, but note that they are thicker and hence should be cooked longer. (They are most similar to kale in flavor and use). Their nutrition value is very high, rich in vitamins A, B-complex, C, and minerals (iron and calcium).

May we have a warm week, and may we see snow in Jerusalem, a song in our heart and a warm beverage (or two) in hand.

Wishing you a great wintery week,

From all of us at Chubeza

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S COLLLLLLLD BOXES?

A reminder: The frigid cold has a profound effect on the cucumbers and tomatoes. It significantly slows down their growth…they simply don’t budge. So this week there were not enough cucumbers to put in your boxes. We attempted to buy cucumbers from other organic growers, but unsurprisingly, with every single one, even those in the Arava, nothing is moving. Instead, we succeeded in buying sweet, yummy red bell peppers, which will arrive in your boxes in place of the cucumbers. We await the accelerated growth of our bright green friends.

Monday: Potatoes, celery/celeriac/parsley root, cauliflower/cabbage, Swiss chard/spinach/tatsoi/ broccoli greens, kohlrabi/beets/ fennel/ turnips, fresh onions/leeks, broccoli, red sweet peppers, tomatoes, carrots,  lettuce.

Large box, in addition: Jerusalem artichoke/fresh fava beans/garden or snow peas, daikon/baby radishes, parsley/ciantro.

FRUIT BOXES: Apples (red/green/yellow), oranges/red grapefruit/lemons, clementinas, avocado, bananas.

Wednesday: Potatoes, celery/celeriac/parsley root, cauliflower/cabbage, Swiss chard/spinach/tatsoi/ broccoli greens, fresh onions/leeks, broccoli, red sweet peppers, tomatoes, carrots,  lettuce, parsley/ciantro/arugula.

Large box, in addition: Jerusalem artichoke/fresh fava beans/garden or snow peas, daikon/baby radishes/beets, kohlrabi/fennel/turnips.

FRUIT BOXES: Apples (red/green/yellow), oranges/red grapefruit, clementinas, avocado, bananas, lemons.

January 17th-19th 2022 – Tu Bishvat

Trees 

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

Joyce Kilmer

This week we’ve celebrated Tu B’Shvat, the holiday of trees, which began as a technical-legal-halakhic occasion, became a celebration of locally-grown fresh fruits, then to a day of tree planting, and over the years evolved into a festival regaling the environment and preservation of nature. Out of respect and appreciation to our friends the trees and to Israeli agriculture, this week’s Newsletter is dedicated to Tu B’Shvat. Chag Sameach!

The origin of the day (not yet a holiday) is in Tractate Rosh HaShana, which discusses various dates that determine the period for taxation, shmitta, tithes, etc.

The four new years are… On the first of Shvat, the new year for the trees, these are the words of the House of Shammai; The House of Hillel says, on the fifteenth thereof

In order to determine the beginning of the year from which tree tithes are taken, the scholars of the Mishna examined nature and concluded that by the month of Shvat, most of the seasonal rains have already fallen. From this point on, as the days get longer and spring gets closer, the ripening of the fruit on the trees begins. But beyond its significance to this halakhic calculation, Tu B’Shvat had no particular festival status, only that it carried similarities to those mentioned in succession, Rosh Chodesh Nissan or Elul.

Yet the letter of the law doesn’t always cancel the instinctive feeling that something is happening during this season, and that the flowers and tiny fruits budding on the trees are a reason to celebrate. Remnants of liturgy found in the Cairo Genizah, dating from the era of the Geonim (sixth-tenth century), teach us of special prayers for Tu B’Shvat, in which wishes for a bountiful year for the trees were expressed, and it seems like Tu B’Shvat was actually a special day and holiday.

With the Crusader conquests, Jewish settlement was dispersed, and many of the holiday customs disappeared. And yet, festive traces remained with the stubbornness of folksy customs that perhaps get even stronger from a distance. Thus remained the custom of the Ashkenazic communities to desist from reciting Tachanun or fast on Tu B’Shvat (as is customary for other festive days). Evidence from the 16th century indicates a custom associated with the city of Safed to eat fruits (fresh, not dried!) on Tu B’Shvat. Rabbi Yissachar Sossan, a Moroccan scholar who immigrated to Safed, mentions this in his book Avor Shanim: “And the Ashkenazic Jews, may God protect them, tend to honor the day with various fruits of the trees.”

And still, it was probably minor little customs here and there, not a true holiday. The person who resurrected Tu B’Shvat, making it an actual holiday, was a Kabalist from the 17th century, the anonymous author of Chemdat Yamim, who emphatically declared this about Tu B’Shvat:

And it is a good custom to increase fruits on this day, and to praise and sing of them, as I have taught all the friends amongst me [the group of Ha’Ari Kabalists]. And though in the words of the Rabbi [Ha’Ari] this custom is not apparent; in any case, I think it is a wonderful tikkun in the visible and the hidden. For as the Yerushalmi writes… “May the humble hear and rejoice- said Rabbi Ivon: Whoever has seen varieties of fruits and not eaten will have to explain himself…” And the reason for this is that in the same way he who enjoys this world without blessing is called a thief, such is he who sees fruits and various sweetnesses and has not eaten or blessed them… And in order to correct this, this day is proper to eat various fruits and bless them with intention, for a Mitzvah that is done at its time is pleasant…

He then proceeded to prescribe a seder of eating 30 species from the fruits of Israel, as well as texts to read and study during the feast. This seder, determined by the author of Chemdat Yamim and printed in a special book called Pri Etz Hadar, became common among the Jewish communities of Italy, Turkey, the Balkan countries and the Oriental countries, from Bukhara to Morocco. The chapter relating to the Tu B’Shvat seder was printed in a special book called Pri Etz Hadar (the Fruit of the Citrus Tree), and has been reprinted many times. The heart of this holiday for Jews in Eastern countries is a spirited, festive meal resembling the Passover seder, to which you invite relatives and neighbors, prominent guests and poor scholars, abounding with light, a decorative table and song. Various communities added distinctive customs and recited poems and special liturgies written by local liturgist, emphasizing the fruits of Israel and specifically the seven species with which the country was blessed.

These festive meals connected the Jewish communities in the Diaspora to the rhythm of nature in Mideastern Israel, and gradually raised the level of yearning and longing: “Over the meal of Eretz Yisrael fruits, on the fifteenth of Shvat, Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk asked his student Rabbi Yitzchak Meir to speak on current issues. Rabbi Yitzchak Meir began his dissertation with a long-winded debate around the Talmudic topic of Rosh HaShana for the Trees. He posed questions and gave answers, compared and analyzed. Said Rabbi Mendel: Were we in the Land of Israel, it would be enough to go out to the field and gaze upon the trees in order to understand the simple meaning of Rosh HaShana for the Trees, not by long-winded debates.” (Yalkut HaChochma)

In the 1880’s, with the renewal of the Jewish settlement in Israel, the need arose to find new content for this day, perhaps to proclaim: Now that we’re here, it is not enough to eat from the fruits of the land left to us by our forefathers (and Arab farmers), it’s time to plant new fruits. On Tu B’Shvat 1890, teacher and writer Ze’ev Yavetz led his students from the school in Zichron Ya’akov to a festive planting, and thus dictated the new character of Tu B’Shvat: a holiday of planting, not merely Rosh HaShana of the Trees. In 1908, the Teachers’ Union formally proclaimed Tu B’Shvat to be the holiday of planting. Later, the Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemet) adopted this date.

However, over the years things have somewhat shrivelled, and a cynical note has begun to creep into the holiday mood. Many times, the festive planting does not result in a forest but rather in new plantings, same place, one year later. Azaria Alon writes, “Looking back, we can only blame ourselves, the Keren Kayemet and the Teachers’ Union, for the fact that Tu B’Shvat is not a holiday for nature but a holiday of planting. Let’s search the songs and ads for a word about what will happen to the plant after it is planted, about our commitment to the tree after we leave the planting site.” (Remember Salach Shabati?)

And so, when new content for the holiday was required, the SPNI (upon the initiative of one of the very first activists, Avraham Bumi Toren from Kibbutz Ma’abarot) suggested that Tu B’Shvat become the holiday of nature.

According to an old Arab tale, man and animal tremble on rainy days, and crave pasture space. Allah, in his great benevolence, sends down to them from the skies three cinders. The first cinder- the cinder of air, comes down on the seventh of Shvat and warms up the air. On the 14th of Shvat, Allah will send down from the skies a second cinder, the cinder of water. Upon its descent, the water will warm up, penetrate the trees and make them bloom and produce fruit. The farmer then counts seven more days, and Allah then sends down his third cinder, the cinder of earth. This is when the earth warms up and is covered with soft grass. Said Rabbi Hai Gaon, “It seems that Tu B’Shvat is Rosh HaShana for the Trees, adjacent to the “second cinder” day, termed in Arabic “Aljamra Althania,” which is when the trees get wet and start to drink, and it is close to the 15th of Shvat, so it is Rosh HaShana of the Trees.” (Yom Tov Lewinsky, Sefer Ha-Moadim)

This period of time in which nature shifts from cold winter to renewed growth, is expressed as the start of major blooming, budding, the awakening of various birds for nesting and reproduction, and winter wildflowers grow gently and courageously in the cold weather. Going out into nature to view its world has become the new content of the holiday. Another facet of Tu B’Shvat originated with the popular campaign of the 70’s to save the wildflowers of Israel, stressing the rule not to injure, pick, or uproot the rare wildflowers.

The month of Shvat is really a time of wonderful renewal, and not only because the rains will stop, but actually because they are still continuing during Shvat, enabling the growth of new shoots, buds, and blossoms. This is also the month of foaling amongst the goats and sheep flocks. Now of all times, when it’s still so cold outside, the baby lambs and kids (goats) are being born, because the world around them is full of greenery to eat. One look at the Chubeza vegetable beds illustrates this green outburst (and with it the need to constantly weed…), highlighted by wild grass that can make do with the little rain it’s gotten so far.

These days, perhaps because we are gradually disconnecting from nature, many people are moving to the city. Here the abundant green turns to cement with only a few shoots able to break through the pavement cracks, and Tu B’Shvat has become the holiday for the environment, in a general sort of way, and specifically in matters of recycling and educating about damage control. Not that this isn’t good–it’s creative and interesting and beneficial. But I feel a little ache in my heart as we get distanced farther away from my childhood memories of walking in my boots and coat to the planting site, digging my fingers into the freezing earth, taking the plant out of its black plastic jacket and placing it gently into the hole my father dug with a great big shovel. True, it is important to continue to attend to this tree, to care for it and cultivate it, but a recycling workshop in honor of the occasion lacks the sensual experience of planting and touching the earth.

So, if you won’t actually be planting trees this year, try refraining from limiting yourselves to recycled creations made in your warm house, but actually go out to nature, to mushroom or wild herb-collecting or simply a nice hike in the clean air amidst all the green and blossoming. For one minute, actually touch and not just look: push your hands through the fragrant wet soil, lie on a green carpet of nature and feel the soft leaves, look up into the sky and see shapes in the clouds, hug a tree (seriously!) – I truly recommend going on a little walk, even close to home, find a tree that needs a hug and simply spread your arms around it, feel the roughness of the trunk, notice its stability (and perhaps sway in the breeze), look up, notice the treetop (is it in foliage or green and swaying gently?) and simply surrender to this embrace-connection.

The Israel Nature and Parks Authority has prepared humorous guidelines for this worthy endeavor!

Wishing everyone a chance to go out into the blossoming flower-dotted nature that surrounds us. May we know how to enjoy all the renewal, change and movement that this season brings. To extend our roots and simply “be….”

A happy Tu B’Shvat to all,
Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Orin and the Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Our boxes are muddy and wet these days, thanks to the rainy days in our field. Sorry about the excess mud…

We packed the wet greens without plastic wrap. Once they reach your kitchen, please dry them and store them in either a plastic/glass container or seal them in plastic wrap.

You are welcome to check out the handy Chubeza Guide to Storing Vegetables on our website.

Monday: Potatoes, daikon/ fennel/turnips, cauliflower/broccoli, Swiss chard/spinach/ tatsoi/ broccoli greens, Jerusalem artichoke/green fava beans/peas, bunch of fresh onions, bell peppers/cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, lettuce/baby greens (mesclun)/arugula.

Large box, in addition: Kohlrabi/beets, parsley/coriander, celery/celeriac.

FRUIT BOXES: Red or green apples, avocado, clementinas, oranges/red grapefruit/lemons, bananas.

Wednesday: Potatoes, daikon/fennel/turnips, cauliflower/broccoli/kohlrabi, Swiss chard/spinach/tatsoi, Jerusalem artichoke/green fava beans/peas, bunch of fresh onions, bell peppers/cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, lettuce/baby greens (mesclun)/arugula.

Large box, in addition: Beets, parsley/coriander, celery/celeriac.

FRUIT BOXES: Red or green apples, avocado, clementinas, oranges/red grapefruit/lemons, bananas.

January 10th-12th 2022 –  Winter Princess

Next week we will joyfully celebrate Tu B’Shvat, the New Year of the Trees. This marks the point where we start counting a new year of fruit ripening on the trees – the stage at which the fertilized flowers on the plant get pollenated and turn into tiny premature fruit.

It’s the Chubeza tradition to celebrate the promise embodied in the tree’s yield by offering products created by our associates in various local cottage industries and small manufacturers. Now is the time to add these festive items to your boxes: fruit, nuts, almonds, and the abundance derived from them: honey from the flower nectar, olive oil from the fruits of the olive tree, date honey, pomegranate concentrate, grape honey and carob syrup, fruit juices (apples, pears, grapefruit), alcoholic cider in various flavors, apple vinegar, almonds, dates, olives and of course… Melissa’s special fruit leather rolls from Mipri Yadeha.

In honor of the holiday, Melissa is offering a Two B’Shvat deal: 2+1 on fruit leather rolls and dried fruit – Buy 3 and pay for two! (Your discount will be applied by Chubeza.)

Chag Sameach!

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Stormy weather is predicted for this weekend. Legend has it that once upon a time, a princess was wandering lost in stormy weather, freezing and exhausted when suddenly she saw a warm light glowing through the mist. This light turned out to be from a friendly, inviting castle. But the princess, who was only seeking a dry bed upon which to lay her exhausted body, could not know that that night will transform her into one of the most famous presenters of an incredible lentil – the tiny pea placed under a high pile of soft mattresses.

Peas have been visiting your boxes on and off for some time and will not stay long, so let’s hurry up and get to know them now:

      

Hans Christian Anderson sure loved peas. So much so that he granted the pea extraterrestrial powers, both as a useful tool to distinguish a real princess from a fake (The Princess and the Pea) and even to make a sick little girl all better (Five Peas from a Pod).  You can’t help but love the pea. She’s chubby and charming, sweet and joyful, and she doesn’t like being pierced with a fork. If she can, she’ll roll off your plate and all through the house…

Though she pretends to be a young’un, she is in fact one of the most ancient vegetables that human beings have cultivated. The pea is said to have originated in three centers: Central Asia (Northwest India to Afghanistan), the Near East (yup, here too) and Ethiopia. After having been cultivated, this green wonder was spread via wayfarers, merchants, and conquerors till it arrived in the Mideast and the Far East. The remains of a primitive, almost 12,000-year-old pea (a wild pea, not the cultivated type) were discovered in caves on the border of Burma and Thailand. Traces of its granddaughters, only 8000 years old, were discovered in Northwestern Iraq, and remains of the great-granddaughters (5000 years old) were found in a lake in a Swiss village. The Greeks and Romans raised peas in the 6th century BC, but the vegetable only arrived in China much later, in the 7th century AC, acquiring the nickname “Hu tou”- foreign legumes.

The first varieties included peas which started out hard, and thus were used dried or ground for flour. These were also darker and smaller peas than those we know today. In Medieval times, peas became a major component of the European cuisine, due to the vegetable’s ability to keep throughout the long winter months and to fill a hungry belly. Only in Italy at the end of the 14th century were the first fresh peas developed, followed by the French variety, known for its diminutive dimensions. Yet it took several additional centuries for fresh peas to become quite fashionable.

The problem with fresh peas is that immediately upon being harvested, the sugar begins to turn to starch, and the pea quickly loses its sweetness. That characteristic is especially problematic in this day and age, where so much time can pass till the vegetables arrive at your local grocery. For this reason, even today, when peas are raised across the globe, only 2-5% of the produce is fresh on your shelves. The vast majority of peas are industrial crops which are canned, frozen or dried. Canned peas sport a khaki-like color because their chlorophyll is destroyed in the heat process, creating a major loss of the pea’s nutritional value as well. When vegetables began being frozen in the 1920’s, this became the preferred way to store peas. The vegetables were fresh-frozen almost immediately at harvest, thus maintaining their color and nutritional benefits. Fresh peas can only be eaten in winter and springtime as the summer heat does not agree with pea, so now’s the time to prepare your fingers for peeling and sharpen those taste buds!

This week your boxes will contain garden peas or snow peas! Of course, they have nothing to do with actual snow. A few years ago during autumn, I received a phone call from a farmer in the Golan Heights:

“We grow strawberries during summertime, and we’re looking for a winter crop. Someone recommended snow peas as a crop that can withstand heavy snow. What do you suggest?”

“Snow peas in the extreme cold of the Heights?” I asked in surprise. “We know these peas to be very sensitive to cold. Here, we seed them early and aim for a yield in November. True, peas grow in wintertime and manage the Israeli cold well… but they cannot tolerate frozen weather.”

“Wait, if it’s sensitive to extreme cold, then why is it named snow pea???”

Good question. One suggestion has to do with the white glare reflecting off its pod, so thin and shiny. I guess someone very poetic found that the pea awakened his/her yearning for white, shiny snow, thus bestowing this confusing name on the hapless pea. You can also go with “Chinese pea” or “sweet pea.” I have even encountered recipes that coin it the “French pea.” As far as I know, the French actually call it mange-tout meaning: eat it all, because the whole thing is consumable, pod and all.

The flat pea was developed by Dutch farmers in the 16th century. From Holland it traveled to England, and then on to the Far East. Of course, the Chinese coined it “hoh laan dau,” meaning “the Dutch pea.” The flat pea’s charming consent to be stir-fried, the preferred Chinese method of cooking, made it a favorite for a billion Chinese, granting it the new name of “Chinese pea.” It traveled to San Francisco in the luggage of Chinese immigrant workers on their way to build the great railways in the West. Those who ended up farmers named it Shii dau, snow pea, perhaps out of a longing for home and the Chinese winter. Hence the confusing name.

But between you and me, we are willing to forgive, because behind all the different nicknames lies a sweet, crunchy pea, with a flat-to-bulging figure, that is so yummy! It also denotes the start of pea season at Chubeza. In general, we grow two prominent pea varieties: the flat one (snow/French/Dutch/Chinese, what have you) and the chubby garden pea, from which we extricate the lovely roly-poly peas.

Our snow peas are grown by trellising (on a vine). But unlike the tomato, eggplant and pepper, which require us to bolster their support, the pea plants only require stretching a net between the poles and they do the rest, sending out their tendrils and climbing independently. The delicate nature of the plant with its thin, silk-like stems and leaves causes it to be exceptionally light, making it easier to climb and hold onto. Climbing plants always seem to me to be more intelligent, the kind that can find the solution with their own “two feet.” Not enough light out here? Let’s climb up and find some more!” When the pea tendril, which develops from the leaf, meets a hard object (even a thin net like ours), it begins growing cells in a varying manner–-those close to the hard object get smaller, while the ones farther away grow longer. This generates a twist and then a bounding of the tendril upon the net, like a little spring. Such a dance can continue from one to ten minutes. Amazing, don’t you think? Here’s some more from this wonder

As for us, this climbing makes us so happy, as we know that soon we will be able to straighten our backs. Now we are harvesting the first rounds of snow pea pods from the lower part of the plant. But gradually, as it climbs higher, the peas will ripen at a higher level, and we too will be able to raise our backs like homo sapiens and harvest peas while upright. What joy!

Wishing you a nice sunny week in this cold weather, and good health to all!
Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Orin and the entire Chubeza crew

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Potatoes, celery, cauliflower/broccoli/cabbage, Swiss chard/kale/spinach, Jerusalem artichoke/green fava beans/fresh garden peas or snow peas, bunch of fresh onions/beets, turnips/fennel, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, parsley/dill/coriander.

Large box, in addition: Daikon/kohlrabi, lettuce/rucola/tatsoi, leeks/parsley root.

FRUIT BOXES: Oranges/pomelit/lemon, clementinas, bananas,avocado, apples.

Wednesday: Potatoes, celery, cauliflower/broccoli, Swiss chard/kale/spinach, bunch of fresh onions/beets, turnips/fennel, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, parsley/dill/coriander. Small box only: Lettuce/rucola/tatsoi

Large box, in addition: Daikon/pepper, Jerusalem artichoke/fresh garden peas or snow peas, , celeriac/parsley root, cabbage.

FRUIT BOXES: Oranges/pomelit/lemon, clementinas, bananas,avocado, apples.

January 3rd-5th 2022 –  A Tale of a Carrot

Thanks to all who responded to our message regarding the price rise for deliveries. Your kind support gives us the strength to continue following the path we’ve forged.

Reminder:

From January 1, 2022 (i.e., this week), delivery costs are: 25 NIS for direct deliveries, 12.5 NIS for collection points

Wishing you a warm winter and a good and healthy 2022!

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COVID had changed so many of our old viewpoints (may they return to their routine very soon!) The tale of Saba Eliezer who tugs the big carrot out of his garden with the help of Savta Yocheved, granddaughter Avigail, the dog, cat and mouse would not have passed the rules: I doubt they cleansed their hands with alcogel prior to going out to the garden and there is no chance they kept a 2 meter distance or wore a mask while they tugged and pulled at a huge root… I worry that at the end of this endeavor the whole family would have gone into bidud (at least they had enough carrot for 14 days….)

The Corona period had also halted (temporarily!) my annual meeting with first graders from the American School in Jerusalem. For several years now, as part of their “Field to Table” curriculum, a group of enthusiastic toddlers has been arriving and touring the field, to the delight of us all.Corona has prevented this event ror the past two years, so I was especially happy that we were back to normal this year, as the first graders arrived recently to marvel with me in our muddy wintry field.

The highlights of the tour are the moments of wonder that come along with discovering a vegetable hidden among huge leaves or peeking between stems, but the greatest enthusiasm and fun are always reserved for vegetables waiting quietly underground, as if sitting in a room with the lights off waiting to shout, “Surprise!” During our wintery tour we met beets and turnips, daikon and radishes, but the greatest highlight was of course – the carrots. This year I forgot to bring a pitchfork with me on the tour, thus the youngsters had to dig stubbornly into the ground, diligently and steadily turning the orange roots round themselves, back and forth, over and over again, until – at last – “the carrots came out!” This week’s Newsletter is dedicated to that lovable orange root which has been visiting your box since mid-autumn.

It’s been over a year since we saw you last and we miss your visits in the field. One of the joyful things about open days are the “field trips” (excuse the pun…) we take you on, and the moments of wonder when one identifies a vegetable hiding in great big leaves or peeking out from stems. But the greatest excitement and fun have to do with the veggies waiting patiently underground, as if waiting in a dark room moments before they are yanked out and declare “surprise!” So this week we’ll devote our newsletter to one of those roots, the carrot, who has been visiting your boxes from the middle of autumn.

In a ponderous 1904 letter to his beloved wife Olga, Anton Checkhov writes, “You ask, ‘what is life’? That is the same as asking, ‘What is a carrot?’ A carrot is a carrot and we know nothing more.”  Over a century later, we can no longer say that “a carrot is a carrot and we know nothing more.” Countless research studies have been conducted to examine this basic veggie, so common and beloved, generating a wealth of information on the carrot’s healthy components and its ability to maintain our health and to spur healing.

But Chekhov did articulate a hint of the mystery lying in the root. What meets the eye as we stroll by the carrot bed is only its bad-hair-day and the edge of its scalp. But when we tug it out of the soil – voila! Orange happiness retrieved from the dark underworld…

Winter is its season. The carrot does not appreciate warm weather, but adores the cold. It can even grow under a blanket of snow. Now that the weather has cooled off at last, the carrot has finally become a frequent guest in our field and your boxes. We seed several carrot beds every few weeks, and after several months pull out bed after bed of juicy orange corkscrew roots, week after week.

The carrot (Daucus carota) belongs to the Umbelliferae family, home to such vegetables and spices as celery, parsley, fennel, dill and cilantro. Various wild carrot species have grown in many areas in the world, specifically in five continents: the Mediterranean, South Asia, Africa, Australia and America. The origin of certain domesticated species is probably Afghanistan and Turkey. The Arabs introduced the carrot to Spain, where it spread to Europe. Its first domesticated varieties came in a range of colors: red, purple and yellow-green. Later, yellow and white carrots were developed. In the 18th century, the Dutch grew orange carrots, which are today’s most common variety. In Israel, the carrot has been raised from the beginning of the Jewish settlement. The Arabs used to grow dark purple carrots, which can still be found today to a small extent, mostly for aesthetic use.

The wild carrot is known in English as “Queen Anne’s lace,” a name which originated in a fairy tale about how the wild carrot’s flower got its distinctive look: a sort of white lace embroidery, with a dark red-purple dot at its center. Legend has it that Queen Anne (wife of King James I), who reigned as Denmark’s queen in the 16th and 17th centuries, was an expert at lace tatting. One day she pricked her finger in the process, and a drop of blood rolled onto the center to create this special flower. Although the tale only appeared in writing some 200 years after Anne’s death, it could be associated with the 17th century custom for ladies to smartly adorn their hats with wild carrot flowers.

Queen Anne’s Lace

Carrots are usually biennial. At the end of their first year of growth, they develop leaves and a root. When the root is well-developed and the plant has received its necessary dose of cold weather, the next season leads to the development of a stem which grows rather tall. As the stem branches out, it produces peripheral branches which end in an inflorescence resembling an umbrella. The seeds remain in the dry fruit, one seed per fruit. They contain ethereal oil which provides their unique scent. When a carrot is grown for food, we are interested in its taproot, which is why it should be picked before reaching flowering and seeding – for by then the root is too old and becomes grainy.

The root develops in three stages, beginning right after sprouting when a long skewer-like root grows. At the second stage, the root thickens and becomes longer, gaining its orange color. At the third stage, the downward growth stops and the root only thickens.

The root consists of a central stele, the endodermis and the cortex. The endodermis is surrounded by tissue, which creates the inner cortex and the outer phloem. This tissue is rich in color substance and sugars. A carrot’s quality is determined by the thin texture of its central stele in comparison to the cortex tissues. In difficult growing conditions, or as the plant ages, the central stele becomes wood-like and the carrot is no longer fit for human consumption.

carrot cut

The carrot from inside to the outside: the endodermis, the cortex and the phloem.

The carrots in your boxes were seeded three-and-a-half to four months ago. Never one to rush, the carrot sprouted slowly: first its two long ears, the cotyledons, peeked out of the earth. Afterwards the plant actually grew “real leaves,” the type we can identify as carrot greens, a true bunny gourmet treat.

carrots sprouting
The Cotyledons, first sprouts
carrot-sprouts1
First real leaves

The carrot needs a lot of space to breathe and grow, in both length and depth and preferably from all four directions. But its seeds are tiny and hard to seed accurately and well-spaced. Thus, as soon as they begin to grow, we start thinning the plants and pluck out lots of tiny carrot sprouts to allow the remainder to grow nice, bountiful roots. Last week, as I was thinning out the carrot beds in my little Noga’s kindergarten vegetable plot, I found out that children enjoy being bunnies, too, as they happily consumed the tiny carrot plants we tugged out of the earth.

carrot thinning

The orange of the carrot is known for its medicinal qualities: research highly acclaims it as a cancer and heart disease fighter. Carrots maintain healthy eyes, fortify the immune system, protect your skin, and generally boost human growth and vitality. Its healing powers come from the yellow-orange caratanoid pigment group: the alpha carotene, beta carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin. 

Beta carotene, the most researched and popular pigment in the carrot, belongs to the carotenoid group, which becomes Vitamin A when consumed. For this reason they’re termed “pro-vitamin.” Vitamin A, aka “retinol” due to its benefits to the retina, plays a crucial role in healthy vision.  A Vitamin A deficiency can impair the function of the photo-pigments in the retina and cornea, causing blindness or night blindness. Vitamin A promotes skin health and epithelial cell growth, and in pregnancy contributes richly to proper fetal development. Current research indicates that Vitamin A is critical to the process of learning and memory, probably by enriching the area of the brain responsible for memory function.

Vitamin A keeps the immune system working, whereas a deficiency can increase the risk of acquiring viral infections. In infectious diseases, a Vitamin A deficiency can aggravate the disease and increase the mortality risk. In Chinese medicine, carrots are known to strengthen the spleen and blood in anemia. Medical research supports this as well, recognizing that Vitamin A is beneficial in absorbing iron and relieving the symptoms of anemia.

Proper Vitamin A consumption has been linked to reducing the threat of many types of cancer, including eye, breast, large intestine, prostate, skin and liver.

Carrots also contain falcarinol, a natural pesticide which the carrot probably develops against harmful fungi by delaying the creation of material which encourages fungus growth. In a like manner, falcarinol hinders the creation of components which foster the growth of cancerous tumors, thus delaying their development.

Carrots are also rich in excellent “traditional” nutrition components: potassium and such B vitamins as folic acid, vitamins C, K, E and dietary fibers. In short, it is full of great stuff. Give the carrot a place of honor in your menu!

Beyond the orange beta carotene, carrots come in rainbow colors. How beautiful are these?

Overdosing on carrots may cause carotenemia – a temporary yellowing of the skin, caused by excessive consumption of beta carotene from fresh carrots. This is not dangerous, only a little strange-looking, and it disappears several weeks after going cold turkey on beta carotene.

Carrot Tips

– If you receive carrots in a bunch, complete with greens, the best way to store them is by removing the greens. Otherwise they will draw water from the root and cause it to shrivel.

– Carrots should be stored in the coldest place in the refrigerator, in a plastic bag or in the vegetable drawer.

– The carrot is best unpeeled. You can lightly scrape the peeling, or not at all. The peeling is tasty and nutritious.

– Like the tomato, a cooked carrot is more nutritious and healthier than a raw carrot. The level of vitamin A rises as the cooking – and even a light scraping – breaks down the cell walls. It is best to cook carrots in a small amount of water, so the vitamins are not diffused in the cooking liquid.

Check out our recipe section for nice diverse ideas for carrot cuisine.

* Adding a small amount of oil to the cooking liquid will increase the absorption of antioxidants.

– It is recommended to combine carrots with foods containing vitamin E, such as peanuts, pumpkin, leafy vegetables and whole grains.

When you purchase carrots in the supermarket, they are already meticulously sorted out with only the right sizes and shape surviving the selection and placed on the shelves. (The rest usually become “baby” carrots…) But in the field, the carrots grow in various shapes, revealing the playfulness and grace of the charming carrot that loves to dance, hug, hang out and make funny faces. Here are some vivid examples:

Wishing you a great orange week – in health, happiness and good living!

Alon, Bat Ami, Dror and the entire Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Fennel/daikon/sweet potatoes, celery stalk/celeriac, cauliflower, Swiss chard/kale/spinach, cabbage/kohlrabi, fresh onions/beets, turnips/Jerusalem artichoke, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, parsley/dill/coriander.

Large box, in addition: Potatoes/green fava beans/ fresh garden peas or snow peas, lettuce/rucola/tatsoi, broccoli.

FRUIT BOXES: Avocado, oranges/pomelit, bananas, clementinasred apples.

Wednesday: Fennel/kohlrabi, celery stalk/celeriac, cauliflower, Swiss chard/kale/spinach, fresh onions/beets, turnips/potatoes, Jerusalem artichoke/green fava beans/ fresh garden peas or snow peas, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, parsley/dill/coriander.

Large box, in addition: Red long peppers, lettuce/rucola/tatsoi, cabbage/broccoli.

FRUIT BOXES: Avocado, oranges/pomelit, bananas, clementinasred apples.

December 27th-29th 2021 – Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night…

Well, it’s final now: winter is here! Fortunately, beyond the rain and cold, winter also brings us a new stock of yummy local products from Chubeza’s very special Associates for you to add to your box.

*Tamir Azala, the beekeeper of “Dvash me’Beit Aba” (Tamir’s honey) came all the way from the Golan Heights to Chubeza this week to bring a new stock of delicious wildflower honey, this time in smaller jars (½ kg) as well as the regular 1kg size.

*A brand new stock of Ein Harod olive oil is now available from the very latest olive harvest (Barne’a and Picual).

*Tomer’s incredible Matsesa in Giva’t Yearim is back with the winter-season cider (apple/pear with leaves, seasoning and flowers) – Just warm it up and savor every sip.

*The Northern cracker factory Lev HaTeva (“Heart of Nature”) is introducing a new line of yummy, crispy crackers: Krispy Bread – a thick, crunchy cracker in natural, garlic or spicy flavor.

All these additions join the plethora of great products you may add to your boxes: fruit, sprouts, mushrooms, bread (gluten-free as well!), cookies and baked goods, products from goat dairy, tahini, halva, date honey and jam, pomegranate concentrate, grape honey, carob syrup, hyssop, almonds, dates, fruit leather and dry fruit, hummus grains, teff, flower, apple cider and other surprises. Add these very special items to your boxes via our order system.

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Over the past year, we have all been experiencing the growing challenges of driving in Israel, especially in the center and big cities. The roads are crowded, construction and renovation projects abound, various small motor vehicles crowd the city streets, parking is a nightmare, etc. Amidst this daily nightmare scenario, our delivery people weave in and out of cities and neighborhoods to bring your weekly fresh produce boxes which carry their special aura of fresh air and green beauty.

Whenever we raise our prices, we do it very carefully, as low as possible. Over the past few months, we realized that it is time to raise the prices of deliveries, which have remained unchanged for 14 years. The time has come to match the cost of deliveries to the vastly changing reality.

In our quest to make Chubeza available to as many people as possible, we have decided that the delivery price will be raised by 5 NIS.

Therefore, from January 1, 2022 delivery costs are: 25 NIS for direct deliveries, 12.5 NIS for collection points

It is vital that we adhere to the goals we set out to reach when we first started Chubeza:

  • Hiring permanent workers to whom we can promise a stable job; fair salary to all of our workers (be they Israeli, Palestinian or Thai). The delivery staff is, of course, part of this endeavor.
  • Fill the boxes with produce that grows in our field, is harvested fresh, and arrives the very same day it was packaged
  • Refresh the field every season with new vegetables and additional varieties..
  • Create partnerships with small local producers for a community built around Chubeza

Most of all, it is important for us to keep an open and honest dialogue with you. We put a lot of thought into this, not wanting to make things harder for our clients.

We welcome your thoughts. Please don’t hesitate to contact us by email csa@chubeza.com or phone/text message 054-6535980

Wishing everyone a good week, and a warm, rainy, blessed winter,

Alon, Bat Ami and the Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Following the chilly days and nights of recent weeks, the cucumbers are growing slowly, and there is a shortage of cucumbers this week, both on our field and at the other growers’, so this week there you’ll get either cucumbers or peppers in the boxes. We’ll wait patience and hopefully for the regrowth of your favorite cucumbers next week.

Monday: Kohlrabi/fennel, celery stalk/celeriac, broccoli, Swiss chard/kale/arugula/tatsoi, cabbage/cauliflower/sweet potatoes, lettuce, daikon/turnips/beets, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, parsley/dill/coriander.

Large box, in addition: Fresh onions with shoots, New Zealand spinach/winter spinach, Jerusalem artichoke/fresh garden peas or snow peas/slice of pumpkin.

FRUIT BOXES: Red apples, avocado, bananas, oranges, clementinas.

Wednesday: Kohlrabi/fennel, celery stalk/celeriac, broccoli, New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard/kale, cabbage/cauliflower/sweet potatoes, lettuce, daikon/turnips/small radishes, cucumbers/red peppers, tomatoes, carrots, parsley/dill/coriander.

Large box, in addition: Fresh onions with shoots/beets, arugula/tatsoi/rocola, Jerusalem artichoke/fresh garden peas or snow peas.

FRUIT BOXES: Red apples, avocado, bananas, oranges/pomelit, clementinas.