Aley Chubeza #107 – March 19th-21nd 2012

Some spring messages:

Delivery changes over the holiday:

During Chol Hamoed there is no delivery, so we will be skipping Monday, April 9th, and Wednesday, April 11th.

Those who receive a box every other week, please note that this means a three-week gap in delivery. If you wish to change delivery dates to prevent this long absence of Chubeza vegetables, please contact me ASAP.

Those who wish to expand their boxes for the holiday, please notify me ASAP.

**

Updating your email address:

This month we begin working with a new software system, designed to dispatch an email to Chubeza members at the end of each month containing a detailed bill for vegetables and products supplied over the month.

To send this type of bill, we require your current email address. If you do not receive our invoices and messages to your most updated email, kindly inform us of the details at: csa@chubeza.com .

**

Open Day:

In the grand Chubeza tradition, we invite you for the annual “Pesach Pilgrimage” to the field to celebrate our Open Day. This year the festivities will take place on Tuesday, April 10, the 18th of Nisan, between 1:00 PM – 6:00 PM. On the Open Day we get a chance to meet you, and you get a personal tour of the field and a great opportunity to socialize as you nosh on vegetables. The kids have their very own tour of the field, tailor-made for small feet and curious minds, plus creative activities, cooking, and a wide, open space to run around.

The Open Day features a vegetable stall where you can purchase vegetables, in the absence of Pesach deliveries.

Before you set out for Chubeza, please check the updated travel instructions on our website, under the category “contact us.”

Wishing you all a Chag Sameach!

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One more important request:

We’ve been getting a lot of last-minute requests, and this makes it very hard on us towards harvest days.

We want to remind you that every change/cancellation/update must reach us by the morning before delivery, at the latest! But the sooner you inform us, the better!

The onset of Pesach usually generates more changes and adaptation. So please contact us ahead of time to enable us to make your requested changes in a calm, organized manner.

Many thanks!

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It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More, No More

We all grew up knowing that rain is good for the farmers, but in reality, things are a little more complex… Several weeks ago, we were paid a visit by Itai of Yevulei Bar, an organic vegetable wholesaler from whom we sometimes buy hothouse winter vegetables. He asked how we were doing.

Great, said I, it’s been a great winter. All this abundant rain, nicely spaced, moderately strong, has saturated the earth without harming it. We haven’t had rain like this in ages!

Itai was surprised. He was used to hearing farmers complain about the rain. Somehow, despite the myth, it always ruins plans…

I could understand what Itai was describing, despite the great happiness and thankfulness for this excellent winter. I, too, could identify with the challenges, hitches, difficulties and balagan this rainy winter has brought about.

Sure, rain can be disastrous when it turns into hail that punches holes into the leaves, or when it’s too stormy and heavy and causes soil erosion. Happily, we experienced none of these calamities this year. But even in a blessed year such as this, when the rains are plentiful and on time, they bring along some problems. Like the fact that we simply cannot walk into the field to cultivate the land for spring planting.

As I’ve mentioned, I started my life as a farmer in California, where winters are much rainier than in Israel. Every year, my dear boss Joe Perry, a veteran farmer and amazing mentor, would get more and more anxious towards the end of winter. Of course, he would begin preparing at the end of summer, and some of the plots were left empty and loosened, ready for spring planting. But there was always the fear that this initial number of beds would not be sufficient, and the earth too wet to cultivate. One of the greatest heartaches farmers experience is when they must go inside the field and stick the teeth of their chisel plow or tiller into an earth that is too wet. The soil then sticks and piles up into great big, problematic clumps.

The word “agriculture” comes from the Latin word ager, meaning “field,” a suitable name as we are entirely dependent upon our field and its soil. If you listen to our tractor man and veteran, top-notch farmer Gaby discussing our field’s soil these days, you will hear the distress a true farmer feels as he sees the great big clumps of soil that his tractor creates. Genuine heartache. Especially since we know that in our clayish soil, every sticky, wet clod will harden into a solid, hard lump which will pose many an obstacle in the path of seeds and young plants.

And yet, we have no other choice. In our field, there are no unused earth reserves we could leave vacant from last summer to wait till the end of winter’s first spring seeding. When we saw that the rains just intended to go on and on, we waited as long as possible until the plants were totally ready to be inserted into the earth. With no alternative, we took the tractor into the field under less-than-ideal conditions. We stared at these great clumps of earth with sorrow, trying to break them up with our roller The work of the ground roller resembles a delicate press: it lays its weight upon the earth to crumble the lumps and straighten and smooth the bed prior to seeding and planting. Our roller is an old metal boiler to which we connected two handles, and we pull it along the bed from both sides. The roller does improve the situation a bit, but many bumps still remain in the bed. This is what happens after continuous rainfall when the earth has not had time to properly dry.

So you understand that even farmers complain about the rain delaying the planting, making harvest more difficult, slowing it down, filling everything with mud, taking away important work days. Last week we felt our patience being especially tried: it’s the middle of March, and for the summer vegetables, we have so much seeding and planting yet to do and need to weed so many beds, scatter compost before planting, spread mulch and assemble raw covers. On Wednesday, we worked till late to finish laying the irrigation pipes to prepare the plant beds, rushing to finish spreading compost before the rainfall forecast for the next day—which we hoped would only be a minor drizzle. But on Thursday we awoke to the sound of the strong rain, and realized we would once again have to train our waiting muscle. And this year it is already so active and stretched…

Luckily, the “spring equinox” is around the corner, Wednesday, March 21, reminding us to get back in balance, take one step back and quietly observe. I retain my perspective when I look at the bigger picture: at the end of the day, when my girls are sleeping, I set aside any friction we had during the day and savor the simple, basic fact that I have them, and they are healthy and well. At the end of the month, when my days are so full and exhausting as I deal with bills and finances, I walk in the field in the quiet of morning and remember how much I love our Chubeza field, and how willing I am to sit (too many hours) in front of the computer and phone to keep it running. So the coming of the spring equinox reminds me to leave these big clumps of earth, and forget the sticky muddy soil and our tardy planting schedule. Instead I’ll focus on the abundance of water accumulating in the reservoirs under the field, where our summer plants will be able to stretch their roots, and in the long run, these reservoirs will be a source of great, wet lively blessing to us all.

Wishing you all an end-of- Adar full of happiness and goodness, and hoping the Pesach cleaning ordeal ultimately leaves you with a sense of calm.

Shavua Tov,

Alon, Bat Ami and the entire Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Potatoes, lettuce, fennel, broccoli, garden peas or snow peas, tomatoes, Dutch cucumbers, carrots, beets, coriander, fresh fava beans

In the large box, in addition: cabbage or cauliflower, scallions, parsnips or celeriac

Wednesday: broccoli, lettuce, peas, dill or parsley, beets, fresh fava beans, cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, kale or Swiss chard, potatoes

In the large box, in addition: celeriac, cabbage or cauliflower, fennel

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Recipes:

Winter salad with beets, citrus and snow peas

Fresh fava beans and fennel saute

Fava beans, kale and peas pasta

Oven roasted carrots and kale

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