September 5th 2021 – A happy and healthy new year!!

THE NEW YEAR HOLIDAY CHUBEZA DELIVERY SCHEDULE:

This Week:

Monday deliveries were made on Sunday, September 5. No delivery for Wednesday customers (unless we have notified you differently by email)

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 have notified you 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.

We have sent a personal email to each of you and a text message with your exact delivery schedule for the holiday period. If you do not receive the email, or if you have any questions, let us know.

As noted, 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, on Friday, September 24th (3rd day of chol hamoed), between 10-13. We hope no surprises ruin the party. Further details and reminders in the weeks to come.

OUR BEST WISHES TO YOU FOR A BLESSED, HEALTHY & SERENE NEW YEAR!

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May this year bring an end to grief
May it begin with joy and relief
After such a grim and trying year
Welcome oh new one, at last you are here!
A new year to bestow its grace upon
Both you and me and everyone.
A good year will bring about
Peace everywhere, without a doubt
May this year bring an end to grief
May it begin with joy and relief

Anonymous (translated by A. Raz)

Wow, it’s been another hell of a year.

Each new year, just before Rosh Hashana, we customarily send festive greetings, our hearts swelling with joy and anticipation at the upcoming holidays. This year, I would like to repeat my New Year’s greeting of last year – but with a bit less gloom. Although we are still knee-deep in battling the pandemic, it is somehow more familiar now, and less scary. I hope. Despite this long, challenging time we’re enduring, the seasons continue to change, and the cycle of life is still doing its thing, reminding us that there is still cyclic motion, change and the comfort of transformation even within hardship, as the new year comes a’tapping at our doors.

In Jewish tradition, there are in fact four new years: (Nissan, Elul, Tishrei and Shvat) with each ‘new year’ serving a different aim: The month of Tishrei is our very own Rosh Hashana – for the farmers growing vegetables in the fields. The perfect logic of this timing is something we actually can feel. Our bodies, which sweltered over the long, exhausting summer days, are softening and cooling down a bit, basking in the lower temperatures (take our word for it, they are falling, despite the extremes) and earlier sunsets. Autumn is when the field completes its annual cycle: summer yields are ending, and autumn plants have already acclimated in the field to await the first showers and new beginnings. Chaperoning these winds of change are hopes and wishes for a blessed, fruitful and rain-blessed year of health and comfort, growth and livelihood.

These hopes are tangibly expressed in the blessings and symbols of the holiday. The Talmudic sage Abaye, who was probably in charge of the Holiday Food Column, is the one who invented the symbolic dishes for the Talmudic table. In Tractate Krittut 6, 1: “Said Abaye: Now that you have mentioned that the siman has significance, every Rosh Hashanah, one should eat a pumpkin, lubia, leeks, beet greens and dates.”

The Simanim express the seasonal variation that the holiday table offers, bringing together guests of all sorts: from the leafy greens (Swiss chard), the legumes (lubia beans), the princess of onions (leek) and the gourds. Plus, of course, the pomegranate and dates, apples, honey and fish – all showcasing the bounty that this blessed land naturally provides each season.

And as we sit round the festive table, this year especially, and think about the passing year (what we resolve to discontinue) and look forward to the new year (and what we hope it will bring), the seasonal meal suggests we linger in the present, eat something that is in fact here and now, being harvested in our fields as we speak. And together with what was and what will be, to experience that which is presently on the tip of our tongues and taste buds, crunching in our mouths, and smacking our lips in pleasure, remembering that amidst the challenge, hardship and concern, we are surrounded with so much growth, abundance and goodness.

May we enjoy a good and blessed year!

In keeping with the ancient Chubeza tradition – here’s our very own blessings for our Chubeza vegetable symbols:

New Zealand Spinach: May we acknowledge our strengths to survive and flourish in green freshness, even when the heat is on. (Spinach is the green that flourishes happily during intense heat.)

Silka (beet greens, Swiss chard): May we beet off self-doubt and undermining criticism, and may we cultivate a confident, strong, supportive spine as oh-so-stately as the chard’s.

Lettuce: Lettuce lovingly think of our grandparents celebrating alone, away from the familiar family festivities. And lettuce know to appreciate and not take for granted the loyalty of those who remain with us, now and forever.

Potato: May we learn from mistakes made in the past, of others and of our own. May we remember to vary our fields with many yields, and not only count on the simplest and most common. (And the explanation is right here).

Sweet Potato: May the color orange go back to being a joyful heartwarming color as opposed to a signal of upcoming danger as the light changes from green to red. May we view each other in a humane and united light (like the orange that brings together red and yellow) and not divided into one sector or another.

Leek: May we have the patience to grow unhurriedly and diligently, and the understanding that sometimes, in order to reach ripeness, one must grow very slowly. And spring no leeks.

Eggplant: May we try and succeed to see the light, whiteness and faint but beautiful purple hue within the murky dark that hides the soft insides.

Pumpkin: May we persevere till the end of the pandemic at all hours of the day – not just till midnight, when we turn back into pumpkins…

Onion: May we be granted the wisdom to acknowledge the many and varied layers that life is comprised of, that people are made of, and that reality is created from. May we strive to gently, with consent, peel them off, rejoice in the many echelons, and arrive at the sweet heart.

Pepper: May we be blessed with the skill to pepper our speech with just the right phrases, without overdoing it. And when life gets salty, may we stand beside it to add some spice.

Cucumber: May we develop the sensitivity and ability to listen and feel the sweetness within what starts out seeming boring and bland.

Tomato: May we enjoy a year full of juice, color and sweetness.

Cherry tomatoes: May we appreciate the little ones, and remember that sometimes the smallest of things are the sweetest, juiciest and most wonderful of all.

Basil: May we always notice the fragrance of blossoms, ripe fruit, fresh grass and rain-drenched soil. May we stop to take a deep breath of these fragrances, and remember to respect and cherish our oh-so-taken-for-granted breathing.

Coriander: May we rejoice in the difference in people’s tastes, in the differences between us, in the wonderful variety and vibrancy created by a symphony of opinions, varying faces and opposite choices. May we refuse to allow the voices dividing “us” and “them” to lead us. (Coriander may very well be the most controversial vegetable, and still it shares an honored space in your boxes.)

Parsley: May we allow the good things to enter, fill and cleanse us from the poisonous and harmful. And may we live sparsely, as the parsley.

Okra: May we gaze at the stars at least one night every so often to feel the lightness of our minuteness and the strength of being part of the vast cosmos. (Slice the okra horizontally to see stars.)

Soy beans (edamame): May we sow and unsew ourselves out of our pods (or hearts), to be bursting with wholesome energy and goodness.

Lubia/Black-eyed Pea: May our shiners be only from this pea.

Corn: May we have a bright, sweet and delicious year! And may some dinners be as easy as just peel, bite, and bask in the glory.  (You heard it ear first….)

Mallow (chubeza): This September, may we try to remember when life was sweet and oh, so mallow. Renew our days, as of old!

So, here’s to the New Year, to great expectations and wet wonderful showers: Please, oh please, may they come in due time, in the proper measure and quantity. May they satiate the human salad of this country, and the animals crying out for drink, the dusty plants growing grey at the edges, the flying insects, the crawlers and jumpers, the rocks and clods of earth that so deserve the blessing of rain.

And here’s to the greatest hope and blessing of all: May the COVID pandemic end swiftly and completely, may we resume “normal” life, and may we not soon forget the insights we’ve gained through these challenging times.

Wishing you the fulfillment of your hopes and prayers, for good and for blessing, for happiness and growth, for health, for a good life and for peace. Shana Tova!

From the entire Chubeza crew in the field, the packing house, the office and on the roads: Alon, Bat-Ami, Dror, Einat, Assaf, Orin, Mohammed, Majdi, Vinay, Montry, Nopadol, Santi, Yang, Ruhgsamon, Anu, Elisheva, Melissa, Ruthie, Alon, Chana, Eyal, David, Lior, Yisrael, Alon, Ziv, Matan, Barak, Melanie and Aliza

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THE VEGETABLES BEHIND THE BRACHOT IN THIS WEEK’S HOLIDAY BOXES:

Monday: Bell peppers, Thai yard-long beans (lubia)/short Iraqi lubia, parsley/coriander/basil, eggplant/potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, leeks, lettuce, slice of Neapolitan pumpkin/butternut squash, sweet potatoes, green soybeans (edamame)

Large box, in addition: Onions/okra, corn/popcorn/cherry tomatoes, New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard.

FRUIT BOXES: Mango, apples, pears, pomegranates. Large boxes: Greater quantities of the above fruits, plus bananas.

August 30th-September 1st 2021 – How sweet it is to be loved by you…

The New Year is upon us, and soon 5781 will make way for 5782

THE NEW YEAR HOLIDAY CHUBEZA DELIVERY SCHEDULE IS AS FOLLOWS:

Rosh Hashana Week:

Monday deliveries will be made on Sunday, September 5. No delivery for Wednesday customers (unless we’ll notify your differently by email)

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.

Next week, we will send a personal email to each of you with your exact delivery schedule for the holiday period. If you do not receive the email, or if you have any questions, let us know via the phone: 0546535980 or by email: chubeza@gmail.com.

As noted, 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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Ain’t She Sweet?!

Though she’s frequented our boxes for several weeks now, she actually started out with us four months ago (perhaps more). For our part, we’ve been at her side observing the various stages of her growth and snapping shots for her fashion model portfolio. So, this week’s Newsletter is devoted to giving you a glossy look at our glamorous redheaded friend – the sweet potato (aka yam).

Growing sweet potatoes is a lesson in faith, imagination and hope. This is how it works:

In the beginning of May we received a package from Kibbutz Nirim, which we opened to find this treasure:

“Well, hey there, Georgia!” we greeted our sweet potato, and happily placed the cuttings into the pre-dug mounds we’d prepared in the ground, separated from one another by 15 centimeters. Here’s how it looked like when we were done:

And close up:

A few days later, we started to notice tiny little leaves growing on those branches, and then, lo and behold – this is the scene just one week later:

Remember that naked branch? Look how well dressed she  is now!

Then, the young seedlings begin stretching out their beautiful arms, on their way to a bountiful future:

Only two weeks later, the field looks like a sea of green, with densely assembled leaves, branches and a vibrant, verdant carpet of blooms:

Posing up close:

…and zooming in even closer: look at these gorgeous little flowers, with their characteristic Convolvulaceae family purple hue at the center. The sweet potato is practically the only edible plant in this extended family that includes such decorative and wild plants as the morning glory and the bindweed.

In a neighboring bed, a wild cousin comes to visit (there’s one in every family…), extending his arms and beautiful white flowers which have an intoxicating scent. Take a whiff (and FYI – place them on your nose and inhale. They’ll stick right to it!):

And underneath this green carpet, silently but surely, the sweet potato plant shoots out roots which thicken in order to store nutrients for the winter. Four months after the start of the process, we begin exploring what’s happening six feet below. If need be, we turn off the irrigation (causing the sweet potatoes to grow just a little more) and when The Time Comes, we roll the lawn mower over the plots, mowing the heavy thicket from above to make life less tangled for us, and off we go, armed with pitchforks and a smile to dig up the luscious orange roots.

Bon appetit to you all! May we enjoy a week of faith, imagination, hope and deliciousness!

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, New Zealand spinach/basil, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions/scallions/leeks, lettuce, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, corn/slice of Neapolitan pumpkin.

Large box, in addition: Eggplant, cherry tomatoes, green soybeans (edamame)

FRUIT BOXES: Pomegranates, mango, pears. Small boxes only: Bananas Large boxes: Greater quantities of the pomegranates, mango, and pears, plus peaches.

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

Large box, in addition: Bell peppers, New Zealand spinach, green soybeans (edamame)

FRUIT BOXES: Pomegranates, mango, apples. Small boxes only: Bananas Large boxes: Greater quantities of the pomegranates, mango, and apples, plus grapes.

A list and a smile – August 23rd-25th 2021

ANOTHER WEEK OR SO AND IT’S ROSH HASHANA!!

The New Year is upon us, and soon 5781 will make way for 5782

THE NEW YEAR HOLIDAY CHUBEZA DELIVERY SCHEDULE IS AS FOLLOWS:

Rosh Hashana Week:

Monday deliveries will be made on Sunday, September 5. No delivery for Wednesday customers (unless we’ll notify your differently by email)

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.

Next week, we will send a personal email to each of you with your exact delivery schedule for the holiday period. If you do not receive the email, or if you have any questions, let us know via the phone: 0546535980 or by email: chubeza@gmail.com.

As noted, 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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Reminding you that the New Year brings you the spectacular Shana Ba’Gina Calendar / A Year in the Garden created by artist and gatherer Ilana Stein. If you haven’t yet met this amazing creation, Shana Ba’Gina is a detailed, illustrated calendar that is also a monthly guide to domestic Israeli gardening and nature. This product celebrates the direct connection between time and seasons with local agriculture and gathering. Each month brings about changes – in the field and forest, in the garden, and in your food. With the upcoming sabbatical Shmita year, Ilana created a special edition dedicated solely to indoor home gardening: vegetables on the windowsill, greens in the kitchen, hanging plants in the bathtub, hydroponics, terrarium and many other solutions to bring nature indoors.

A Year in the Garden comes highly recommended by the Chubeza staff!

A Year in the Garden products include a hanging/tabletop calendar, a weekly journal, and magnets with seeding schedules. Take a peek at Ilana’s distinctly charming calendar right here.

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THIS WEEK’S NEWLETTER IS ON PARTIAL VACATION

But, in the spirit of our Summer Veggie Boxes, we’re happy to send you this most appropriate New Yorker cartoon (even though the vegetables pictured are more fitting for Europe/N. America).

KEEP SMILING!

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Bell peppers, Thai yard-long beans (lubia)/short Iraqi lubia, parsley/coriander, basil/New Zealand spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, slice of Neapolitan pumpkin, okra/green soybeans (edamame), corn/sweet potatoes. Small boxes only: Scallions/leeks.

Large box, in addition: Eggplant, onions, cherry tomatoes, Amoro pumpkin/butternut squash.

FRUIT BOXES: Pomegranates, mango, apples.    Small boxes only: Bananas Large boxes: Greater quantities of the pomegranates, mango, and apples, plus nectarines/pears.

Wednesday: Bell peppers, Thai yard-long beans (lubia)/short Iraqi lubia/okra/cherry tomatoes, parsley/coriander, New Zealand spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, green soybeans (edamame), corn/popcorn, butternut squash, scallions/leeks/onions. Special gift for all: basil.

Large box, in addition: Eggplant/potatoes, slice of Tripolitan pumpkin, sweet potatoes.

FRUIT BOXES: Pomegranates, mango, apples, nectarines/pears. Large boxes: Greater quantities of all the fruits.

August 16th-18th 2021 – PICKING PECKS OF PEPPERS

Next week, Ido and Carole of the Ish shel Lechem bakery are taking a well- deserved break. Therefore, there there are no loaves of bread, but the crackers, granola and other dry products can be ordered via our order system.

Rest up, guys! We’ll miss you.

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One hot summer day this week, I started thinking about summer. With so many folks out gallivanting the globe, the thought struck me that there are so many components of your summer boxes which started out around the globe as well, including from the uncharted territories of Africa and America before they were “discovered” in the 15th century. Take tomatoes, squash, pumpkins, corn, potatoes, peppers and sweet potatoes, for example – not one of these tasty vegetables appeared in the European vegetable garden or the Israeli one before the discovery of America. Okra, garlic and watermelon were born in Africa and immigrated here many years ago. The thought of a life bereft of the redness of tomatoes, the green of corn sheaves, the orange of pumpkins and sweet potatoes or the juiciness of watermelon brings to mind black and white TV. One can learn a lesson of modesty from the vegetable patch (usually a good idea): to enjoy the wealth of a colorful, bountiful summer season and to understand a few things about the wonder of difference and varieties, and the great profit and joy to be gained by allowing this variety to develop and reproduce.

(Check out this very interesting article from Masa Acher (Hebrew) about the global culinary migration.)

One of these migrants from the American continent is the pepper, which takes a starring role in your boxes these days. The honorable pepper has now come for a long visit, scheduled to stay all the way till autumn.

The pepper we know and eat in its sweet or spicy varieties, in red, yellow, green or orange (also available in purple, black and brown…) actually received its name by mistake. The word “pepper” originally referred to the pepper spice (i.e. black or white pepper), and only later was lent to the chili and green pepper vegetables.

The black pepper spice (a member of the Piperaceae family, whose black, green or pink seeds—at various stages in the maturation—produce the savory black and white ground pepper condiment we know and love) originated in India, with its name derived from the Sanskrit “Pipali.” Europe was already well-acquainted with pepper, as well as its relative, the Piper longum, which was also used as a very piquant spice. The name was translated via commerce into the Latin “Piper,” from there to the old English “Pipor,” German “Pfeffer,” French “poivre,” Dutch “peper,” and other languages. At the same time, the word was translated from Sanskrit to Persian to Aramaic, becoming known by the ancient Jewish sages. In Mishnaic Hebrew, it in known as “Pilpelin” or “pilpelet,” and in Talmudic “Pilpula.” Its spicy flavor became synonymous with a quick tongue and a sharp brain (thus, in Hebrew, a Talmudic – or other – discussion is termed hitpalpalut), and to describe vigorous diligence.

Pepper spice plant

When Christopher Columbus attempted to discover a shortcut to the Indian spice route, he was unruffled by the fact that he found something totally different.  He bestowed the spicy vegetable he met in the Caribbean (from the Solanaceae family) the same name as the fiery Indian spice he had met, thus confusing the world forever after. There is absolutely no botanical connection between the two plants. Yet the American pepper was as spicy as the Indian one, and Columbus, a merchant and sophisticated marketing man hoping to sell it for a pretty penny in his mother continent, gave them the same name. In his journal, Columbus noted that “the pepper which the local Indians used as spice is more abundant and more valuable than either black or melegueta pepper.” His enthusiasm helped the spicy vegetable travel via Spanish and Portuguese maritime routes to Europe, Africa, Southeast Asia and India, and of course, to Hungary, where the ground dried pepper became the national spice, aka paprika.

Soon enough, it was discovered that this spicy vegetable has a sweet little sibling (actually a bunch of sweet siblings), but the name was already given and would not be changed. So, these were coined “sweet peppers,” in Hebrew “gamba.”

In Central America, the vegetable has a long and ancient history. Petrified peppers have been found in archeological digs in Central America dating back over 2000 years, and they appear in Peruvian embroidery relics from the first century. The Olmecs, Toltecins and Aztecs were only some of the cultures known to raise peppers and use them in culinary endeavors. Together with the spicy pepper types, the sweet varieties were brought to Europe. By the beginning of the 17th century, the Europeans discovered the rich variety of the peppers we know today, all raised and grown over the years by habitants of Central America.

Today there are hundreds of pepper varieties which span the taste bud gamut from sweet, bittersweet, spicy to sweet-and-spicy, etc. There are also a host of shapes: large and elongated; square and bell-shaped, hence the name “bell pepper;” small, long and heart-shaped like the Spanish pimiento pepper; long and yellow like a banana, or tiny, like those used for pickling; long and narrow, small and triangular, thin as a shoelace, and more. The colors also vary: they come in green, the original pepper shade, and then range in hue from light to dark green, but that’s not all. When I worked in California, we grew a pepper that started out purple on the outside and green on the inside! As it ripens, the pepper changes shades, similar to the process the tomato undergoes where the level of sugar (or spiciness) is raised and it turns a warmer hue. The most popular peppers are the yellow, orange, and of course, red, but they also come in black and maroon! The sweet pepper and the spicy peppers are harvested at different stages of their growth – from the green to red stage, thus we get to enjoy a wide range of flavors and color.

Planting peppers was actually the first time Alon and I worked together, when he joined me in spring 2004. We planted them in a totally open field, but today the first crops at the beginning of spring are well-groomed in the pampering planting tunnel, with mesh net walls surrounding them for protection, a shade net above and trellising strings that help them stay erect to climb up and away. And like well-pampered, beloved children, they produce great yields totally worth all the trouble of raising them. However, we also grow them in the open field. The summer plants sometimes suffer in the planting tunnel, thus we prefer to plant them in the more ventilated open field. Don’t worry, we pamper them, too, by planting every pepper bed between two Thai lubia beds which climb up the trellising nets on both its sides. We then spread a shade net from one end to the other, as preventative medicine against possible diseases lurking and/or exposure to sunstroke. Here at Chubeza we grow three pepper types: the Maccabi, Tolmeo and Romanetta.

 

Sometimes we begin harvesting the peppers when they are still young and green. The pepper harvest is in fact a simultaneous harvest and thinning out. As we harvest the green peppers, we pick from the denser parts of the bush to allow breathing space and growing room for the remaining vegetables. Upon ripening, the green peppers start turning red, first one cheek, then the other, and slowly become completely blanketed under a red cover. This process takes about three weeks. Now when we harvest peppers, we choose only the ones that are almost entirely red. At the end of the harvest there are still green and half-red peppers awaiting full blush, preparing for next harvest.

Over the past few years, as we learn to grow vegetables in hothouses, we try to ease some of the plant’s burden in its first stages of growth. To allow for it to invest in its growth (to help it grow taller and yield vegetables over a longer period of time), we thin out the plant at the flowering stage, similar to thinning when growing fruit on trees, allowing those that remain on the plant to develop in a thinner, more spacious environment. Thus, our first harvests are usually red peppers, which ripened on the plant for a longer period of uncrowded time.

  

All peppers are very rich in Vitamin C, making them natural anti-aging agents and beneficial in preventing heart and vascular diseases and certain cancers. Vitamin C is important for proper immune system function, and augments iron absorption through the intestines. Another important pepper component is Vitamin A, an anti-oxidant which protects body tissues and cells tissues from oxidation. Vitamin A also aids in the prevention of cancer, heart and vascular diseases, and promotes anti-aging. Vitamin A is crucial for night vision and vital for the proper functioning of the immune system, cells, tissue, mucosal tissues and skin.

May we enjoy a quiet week, where the only excitement comes from summer and fun,

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

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Bell peppers, Thai yard-long beans (lubia)/okra, parsley/coriander, cherry tomatoes/sweet potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, butternut squash/slice of Neapolitan
pumpkin, eggplant, green soybeans (adamame).

Large box, in addition: Scallions/leeks, corn/Amoro pumpkin, basil/New Zealand spinach.

FRUIT BOXES: Pears, nectarines, apples, mango. Large boxes: Greater quantities of all the fruits above.

Wednesday: Bell peppers, Thai yard-long beans (lubia)/okra/potatoes, parsley/coriander, corn/sweet potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, butternut squash/slice of Neapolitan
pumpkin, eggplant, green soybeans (adamame)/Amoro pumpkin.

Large box, in addition: Scallions/leeks, cherry tomatoes, basil/New Zealand spinach.

FRUIT BOXES: Pears, nectarines, apples, mango. Large boxes: Greater quantities of all the fruits above.

August 9th-11th 2021 – Blushing Beauties

This week the Izza Pziza dairy is closed for a well-deserved vacation. Next week, they will return with renewed vim and vigor.
Enjoy!

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 The Life of a Tomato

 Silly tomato, why do you worry?
No need to live life in a hurry.
Take time to ripen in the sun,
swinging on vines and having fun.

Slowly turn from green to red,
thoughts of freedom in your head.
You’re always in a happy mood,
unaware you’ll soon be food.

                                                –Leah Barton

The tomato is one of the most basic and ubiquitous vegetables in the Israeli household, taking a starring role in salads, Matbucha, pasta sauce, Shakshuka and more. At Chubeza, we have been growing tomatoes since our first year – beginning in the open field under the vast skies.

Looking back, the first years were somewhat reasonable, but from year to year the ravages of the field increased. We sometimes painfully reminisce about the years we planted so many tomato bushes that yielded so few tomatoes. In the open field, the tomatoes suffered from leaf diseases and other calamities, specifically the tomato yellow leaf curl virus that brought along the silverleaf whitefly – a serial tomato terminator. Moreover, since growing tomatoes in an open field is only possible during summertime, we had to purchase tomatoes over the rest of the year from organic hothouse growers to supplement your boxes.

But eight years ago, we renovated an abandoned hothouse near our field, and after many hard months the structure stood ready for the challenge: we set out with throbbing hearts to plant our first tomatoes.

Growing vegetables in a hothouse is very different from the open field. Though the open field leaves our crops far more exposed to injury, we know we can rely on the natural balances existing in the great outdoors. Yet as soon as the vegetables are planted in a covered structure, disconnected from the environment, we are the ones responsible for maintaining the balance, restoring it when it goes awry, providing pollination, natural enemies, nutrition and fertilization precise for each specific need, etc. This was a new and significant challenge, and even now, several years later, we still encounter trials and tribulations and we are constantly learning. On the other hand, the dense mesh net that covers the crops does supply important, crucial protection for tomatoes and cucumbers (and other veggies who later joined). When our attempts proved successful, we added eight more growth tunnels – lower and more narrow structures. Last year we added four more to the collection, and we are now adding more, as we speak.

The tomato is a tough plant which demands nourishment from fertile soil rich in earthly resources, particularly potassium, in order to joyfully spring forth and create a happy green bush. Lack of potassium creates a soft, powdery tomato. Since potassium is not our soil’s strongest attribute, we provide a potassium additive prior to the tomato crop’s growth, followed by melting potassium into the irrigation system once the tomatoes develop. The tomato bushes growing in our hothouses are the “climbing” type.

That is, they don’t independently climb like grapevines, cucumbers or peas, but rather are very long, tall bushes which require trellising – a support for their length so they do not crawl on the earth. Our method of trellising is called “Dutch trellising” in which we tie a “climbing rope” from the roof of the structure for the plant to wind itself around, remaining erect and growing upward.

We prune the bushes to keep them upright by removing the side stems, leaving only one central stem which thickens, strengthens and continues to grow upward. When the plant becomes too tall for us to reach, we release a bit of rope, rappelling-style, in order to bend the head of the bush and allow it some more growing space. (The lower part of the plant, which does not bear fruit at this stage, takes some time off to rest …)

The bushes are treated like pampered babies: in wintertime, we spread plastic on the roof and walls to protect them from the cold, and during summertime it’s a mesh net preventing overheating and warding off pests. We spread a shade net above their heads to lower the temperature and prevent heatstroke. And since we locked them up in the castle like princesses, we bring in the suitors – beehive after beehive is welcomed into the structures, buzzing with residents who joyfully pollinate the plants.

But even well-maintained castles are sometimes infiltrated by varmints. The flagrantly cheeky Tuta Absoluta moth manage to creep into the growth tunnels, nibble away at the leaves leaving only the epidermis like a sheer curtain, and weaken the plant in the process by damaging the photosynthesis receptors which are in the leaves – essentially harming the mouth from which the plant drinks up the sun. What’s more, the Tuta moth stings the fruit, leaving a tiny black entry point – the mark of a dark tunnel dug into the tomato.

How do we prevent this catastrophic scenario? First and foremost, we make every effort to keep the growth house and its surroundings as clean as possible. Prior to a new challenging growth, we try to grow a round of Brassicaceaes, which provide natural disinfection together with stability and balance. As soon as we spot moth damage, we attempt to collect the infested leaves and distance them from the growth house, while laying traps for the males via a pheromone trap: plates containing pheromones and water. The males are attracted to the pheromone and are trapped in the water. The traps are beneficial in reducing the moth presence and controlling the number of moths in the tunnel. Our next step involves the use of biologic pest control, based on toxins produced from various bacterium (Bacillus thuringiensis Var. Kurstaki or Saccharopolyspora spinosa) that affect the larva’s nerve system.

But this pest control is of limited efficiency, and many times when we see that the Tuta has arrived, we attempt to regain the balance by reconnecting to the open field. We open up both sides of the hothouse and allow the Tuta’s natural enemies to take their course. Then, of course, we have new problems (like the silverleaf whitefly and others), challenging us to juggle the many considerations and the conditions of the tomatoes in order to produce healthy, high-quality tomatoes.

Last year, we took part in an experiment conducted by the Rimi Company which encouraged us to use pheromones differently: instead of catching the males, confuse them! Something to the effect of “Make Love not War” or more specifically, “Try to Make Love….” The idea was to scatter so many pheromones into the air that the males would simply flutter back and forth, intoxicated by the scent, looking frantically for the females but not locating them due to the confusion in scents. Eventually, most males will be too exhausted to mate. The trick here is a small plastic device resembling a vial which holds the pheromone, releasing it slowly over a number of months (!) At the close of that experiment last year, we were delighted with the results (knock wood). We still get occasional Tuta waves, but they dwindle after a while. To date, they have not conquered our tomato beds. Hurray!

Except, now we’ve discovered that when tomatoes are able to grow for a longer length of time, without the Tuta , our old nemeses from the past, the silverleaf whiteflies and mealybugs, are back… Apparently, during the years we were fighting the Tuta, the tomatoes never reached the age when these rascals attack. Now that Tuta is pretty much history and the tomatoes grow to greater maturity, these two aphids attack. Assisted by their straw like proboscis, these pests suck up the tomato sap which contains high levels of sugar. In order to get rid of the surplus sugars, they secrete a sticky sweet liquid termed honeydew. A parasite fungus chooses this exact spot to acquaint themselves, feeding on the sugar and covering the leaves and fruit with black spores, making the tomatoes look like they are covered in soot, hence its name: sooty mold

We treat the silverleaf whiteflies, mealybugs and sooty mold with pyrethroids – an organic compound which is produced by chrysanthemums and fights various pests. To achieve a soot-free tomato, we brush them off while picking them, but you may still encounter occasional black spores or feel a greasiness to the tomato. The black is the aforementioned sooty mold, and the greasiness is the remains of the oil we combine with the pyrethroids for them to stick to the fruit and work well. Neither the pyrethroids nor the sooty mold are dangerous to mammals and human beings. Just wash off the tomato in soapy water to remove the greasiness or stickiness and enjoy the juiciness of the soul-enrichening tomato.

So there you have it: the chubby rosy-faced tomato goes through a lot from the moment it is planted in the fertile specially-prepared soil till it arrives at its red fullness ready for harvest: it’s protected, cultivated, tied up to stand erect, fertilized, watered, and caressed by sun rays. It is sought after by charming bees, and attacked by ruthless, cunning pests who are then confounded by a profusion of fragrances or the aid of a flower extract. And through it all, the tomato is unruffled, continuing to patiently crawl its way to the sun and sweet ripeness you meet in your boxes.

I would say the tomato deserves one great big round of applause, wouldn’t you?

May we enjoy a peaceful, pleasant week with lots and lots of sunshine, water, and happy family time,
Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Orin and the Chubeza team

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Monday: Corn/sweet potato/potatoes, Thai yard-long beans (lubia), basil/New Zealand spinach, cherry tomatoes/okra, cucumbers, tomatoes, scallions/leeks, lettuce, butternut squash/slice of Tripolitani pumpkin, eggplant, green soy (edamame)/amoro pumpkin.

Large boxes, in addition: Onions, red bell peppers, coriander/parsley.

Fruit Boxes: Pears, mangoes, grapes. Small boxes also: Bananas, Large boxes, in addition: Apples

Wednesday: Corn, Thai yard-long beans (lubia)/amoro pumpkin, basil/New Zealand spinach, cherry tomatoes/sweet potato, okra/red bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, scallions/leeks, lettuce, butternut squash/slice of Tripolitani pumpkin, eggplant/potatoes.

Large boxes, in addition: Onions, green soy (edamame), coriander/parsley.

Fruit Boxes: Pears, mangoes, grapes. Small boxes also: Bananas, Large boxes, in addition: Apples