December 2nd-4th 2019 – Here comes the rain again

The Breaking of the Drought

Listen! ­—it rains; it rains!
The prayer of the grass is heard;
The thirsty ground drinks eagerly
As a famished man eats bread.
The moan of the trees is hushed,
And the violets under the banks
Lift up their heads so gratefully,
And smilingly give thanks.

-Frederick J. Atwood

On Monday morning we were greeted by fields washed with rain, saturated earth breathing a sigh of relief, and invigorated plants, dotted with raindrops. What a thrill! Three hours of calm rain fell across our fields by night, and 9 millimeters of water accumulated in our water gauge. Very impressive and incredibly encouraging. Naturally we need more rain, and await the arrival of the next round, God willing, over this week, in just a few days. Meanwhile, we’re basking in the beauty of our wet vegetables and the clear, crisp air.

Come enjoy along with us:

And with the blessing of the rain – also a Mazal tov blessing to our English translators – grandma Melanie and auntie Aliza, for the birth of a new granddaughter and niece!  May she be blessed with happiness and healthy growth!

And may we be blessed with a nice wintery week, with more rain to fall, as we breathe deeply of the fresh, clear air. Shavua tov!

Alon, Bat-Ami, Dror, Orin, Yochai and the entire Chubeza team, waiting anxiously to wallow in mud

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Swiss chard/kale/New Zealand spinach/totsoi, beets/eggplant, sweet potatoes, scallions/celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, broccoli/ cauliflower/cabbage, carrots, parsley/dill, lettuce/arugula/mizuna. Small boxes only: Lubia Thai yard-long beans/okra/Jerusalem artichokes.

Large box, in addition: Fennel/turnips, daikon/baby radishes, kohlrabi, red/green bell peppers.

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

Wednesday: Fennel/kohlrabi, turnips/daikon/baby radishes, Swiss chard/kale/New Zealand spinach/totsoi, beets, scallions/celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, parsley, lettuce/arugula/mizuna, lubia Thai yard-long beans/okra/Jerusalem artichokes/eggplant.

Large box, in addition: Sweet potatoes, broccoli/cauliflower/cabbage, red/green bell peppers.

FRUIT BOXES: Red apples, bananas/avocados, oranges, clementinas.

November 18th-20th 2019 – Craving rain

TO YOUR HEALTH!

Rose of “Shoreshei Tzion” sends you this easy recipe for pure and tasty Almond Milk using Shoreshei Tzion’s outstanding Almond Butter.

Most of the packaged almond drinks on the market are essentially filled with rice milk, sunflower oil, sugars and other low-cost fillings. The healthiest and purest almond drink is the one you prepare at home!
Try this wonderful 2-minute, super easy recipe today:

Ingredients:
4 T. almond butter (Shoreshei Tzion’s Almond Butter is 100% sprouted and cold-pressed)
3 cups water
2 – 4 seeded dates (optional)

Preparation:
Pour the water into a blender, add the almond butter and dates. Mix until smooth, making certain that the dates are well blended.
Pour the Almond Milk into an insulated container and keep refrigerated for up to four days.
Delicious with grains, granola, chia pudding and/or cashew butter.
This recipe is ideal for use with Shoreshei Tzion’s other spreads, including Hazelnut Butter of Cashew Butter.
For a sweeter, more chocolaty drink, try Shoreshei Tzion’s Hazelnut Chocolate Butter.


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It’s not over till the old man is snoring

The Rain

Pitter-patter, raindrops,
Falling from the sky;
Here is my umbrella
To keep me safe and dry!
When the rain is over,
And the sun begins to glow,
Little flowers start to bud,
And grow and grow and grow!

– Anon

If there was anything we wished to shout out to the strong winds of this past week, it’s Raindrops, please come pitter-patter on our umbrella! Now!!!

Aside from warmer-than-usual temperatures (which have thankfully dropped a bit this week) and a critical shortage of moisture from the skies, the past few weeks have flown by – literally. Everything flew: the plastic crates piled high near the packing house, the crates that collect our harvested veggies, the empty cartons you returned to us. The shade nets still protecting several vegetable beds and the plastic covers over the growth houses sway noisily in the strong gusts, and anything we put down on the ground immediately fills up with dust and sand.  There were moments last week when we felt that the air was so thick that we’d have to physically force it open to walk through.

Aside from the discomfort, these winds are also drying up our greens, most of which are already winter vegetables which desperately need moisture and are painfully grappling with the dryness. Every ounce of morning dew dries up in just moments due to the winds. We open the irrigation system to water those plants who need to grow even if the weather is not cooperating, and pine away for a change of winds (literally!) and the blessing of rain, which unfortunately is nowhere on the horizon of the current forecasts. So far, we have had 18 mm of precipitation, not enough for autumn in the field. W we desperately need hydration. We can only dream of watching little flowers starting to bud “and grow and grow and grow.”

But since we plant by calendar, our fields are switching from summer to winter, with only a few summer crops still waiting to be picked. The eggplants, peppers and lubia black-eyed peas are producing their final yields, the okra is nearly gone, as are the cherry tomatoes whose quantity lessens by the day. The pumpkins from which you receive slices were gathered at the end of summer into our cute little pumpkin shed at the end of the field. Each week we grab another group of them and share slices with you, as the pile dwindles away. Sweet potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes, both of which we began harvesting at the end of the month, have hit the season half-way mark and will join the boxes in month or two, after which they too will bid us farewell for now.

On the other end of the field, the winter veggies are celebrating as they take over the surface in the form of cabbages and broccoli in various states of growth – from baby plants to mature ones that will crown with their beautiful buds or head of tight curls for you to nibble on. Fennel and kohlrabi, celery and scallion – themselves thin and gentle (picture the wild wind blowing a bed of such wispy, delicate plants) while a small distance away their older brothers are thickening and fattening up, rounding and accumulating the crunchiness indicating they are ready to be picked. Meanwhile, six feet under, the various summer root vegetables lie in waiting: carrot and beets, celery root, parsley roots, turnips and radishes. At least they are somewhat protected within the soil as they shoot out their green tendrils to face the winds.

The winds are supposed to die down a tad over the next few days, and hopefully the ensuing silence will allow our cry to echo loud and clear: Raindrops, please come! NOW, ALREADY!!

Although we’ve lacked being showered us with actual rain, unfortunately last week we were “showered” by unheavenly cascades when sirens wailed in the Ayalon Valley preceeded by actual hits. We pray and long for quiet to return, and for only raindrops to descend upon us from the skies.  Wishing everyone a calm, relaxed weekend,

Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Yochai, Orin and the entire Chubeza clan

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Beets, sweet potatoes/pumpkin, eggplant/red bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, cauliflower/broccoli/cabbage, carrots, parsley/coriander/dill, lettuce/mizuna, scallions/celery, fennel/kohlrabi. Special gift: Swiss chard/kale/New Zealand spinach.

Large box, in addition: Lubia Thai yard-long beans/Iraqi lubia/Jerusalem artichoke, totsoi/arugula, baby radishes/daikon/turnips.

FRUIT BOXES: Pomegranates, apples, clementinas, oranges.

Wednesday: Beets, eggplant/red bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, cauliflower/broccoli/cabbage, carrots, parsley/coriander/dill, lettuce/arugula, scallions/celery, fennel/daikon/turnips. Small boxes only: Swiss chard/kale/New Zealand spinach.

Large box, in addition: Lubia Thai yard-long beans/Iraqi lubia/Jerusalem artichoke, sweet potatoes/pumpkin, totsoi/mizuna, baby radishes/kohlrabi.

FRUIT BOXES: Pomegranates/avocado, apples, clementinas/banana, pomelit, oranges.

October 28th-30th 2019 – Let There Be Rain!

Message from the Izza Pziza Dairy

Dear Customers, As always, at the beginning of wintertime our goats gradually stop producing milk as they prepare for the upcoming whelping season. During this time, the variety of products we can supply becomes decreased. We will make certain to update you on what is and is not available in our present stock.

From the month of December, you are cordially invited to come visit us and see the newborn kids.

For any questions, phone us at 08-6192876.

Thank you for your understanding!

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As autumn descends upon us, the Mitsasa team is delighted to announce the return of fresh  organic pear juice and truly delicious fresh apple juice (in 1 liter bottles). These two goodies join the delicious Mitsasa line of cider, jams and apple vinegar, all hand-produced in the Jerusalem Hills from the delectable fruits of the Kibbutz Tzuba orchards.

Order these products today via our order system!

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The first rain reminds me
Of the rising summer dust.
The rain doesn’t remember the rain of yesteryear.
A year is a trained beast with no memories.
Soon you will again wear your harnesses,
Beautiful and embroidered, to hold
Sheer stockings: you
Mare and harnesser in one body.

The white panic of soft flesh
In the panic of a sudden vision
Of ancient saints.

Yehuda Amichai   Translated from the Hebrew by Barbara and Benjamin Harshav

As the first rain fell in our field on Sunday night, the thirsty earth lapped up approximately 15 mm of water, with a huge smile spreading across its face, and ours… What a delight to see the rain arrive just as  daylight saving time ended, at the close of Shabbat B’reshit which tells of the creation of the world, the separation of light and darkness, and the water on high and below, just as we were viewing a live show of water, light and a new beginning.

Though in days of old this kind of rain would have drenched the pilgrims on their long journey home, these days, when almost all vacationers have returned from their holiday travels (by car or plane), this timing for the first rain is perfect. Which is also a perfect opportunity to sum up our reflections on the past year, especially the rainy winter we were kindly granted.

As farmers, when we hope for rain we’re actually aiming towards a very specific target: Timely rain, i.e., not too early or late, not too heavy or too light, and evenly distributed, meaning not too close in succession or too stormy but not too sparse or too distant from the previous rain. Last winter’s rains fell in the proper quantity at the right time. Everything was perfectly balanced: with temperatures that were not too high or low, a balance was created in the quantity and timing of the pests that arrived as expected (we weren’t happy to greet them, but definitely understand that they are part of the field’s nature dance) and did not overstay their welcome.

The bountiful rainfalls presented a major challenge: the field was drenched, and some of the crops “choked” on the excess water in the earth that blocked the oxygen and ventilation to the roots. Our potatoes suffered damage from the dampness, while almost all the plants grappled with the wintery cold and frequent rains which hindered their growth. We field laborers were also challenged by the wet, frigid weather as our feet sunk in the mud and the damp body under our raincoats had to be in constant movement in order to warm up. Our favorite days were when we got to work in the growth tunnels…

However… After-the-winter is basically the time of the agricultural field’s pregnancy, culminating in the birth of one the most joyful spring seasons in the annals of Chubeza. This spring’s yields were lush, vigorous and healthy, the likes of which we don’t often see, marked by a bounty of excellent vegetables from the invigorated earth. The melons and watermelons were wonderful and their plants were almost completely intact, unfettered by the common spring leaf diseases we are used to encountering. Overall, Chubeza’s spring field yielded quantities more abundant than ever. Such a tasty, sweet and juicy experience! The sweet potatoes, too, planted in springtime on lively and joyful microbes partying in the soil, grew into a dense green carpet now yielding plentiful amounts of big, healthy, beautiful roots.

The summer that followed was also outstanding. Although the field got mighty hot, after such a remarkable winter and spring, the heat was bearable, understandable and more possible to accept. The summer yield, too, grew well with fewer problems than usual. The peppers were hardly damaged, the eggplants grew huge, handsome-looking bushes, and the lubia effortlessly climbed the trellises and yielded a bounty of green pods. A field day for plentiful, good-quality produce that continues through the autumn crops being harvested as we write.

Thank you, Lavie, for these beautiful pictures of our field at the start of autumn.

And now, facing a new winter, we fervently hope that last year’s winter was not a fluke but rather the beginning of a return to balance and to blessedly rainy years.

Wishing everyone a year of renewal, growth, deep breaths of clean air, the joy of bloom, the wonder of blossom, the sweetness of fertility and the maturity of ripening.

May the crucial cycle of balance return to habitants of Israel and the world. May you enjoy a good weekend and an easy return to the blessed routine!

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

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Swiss chard/New Zealand spinach/kale, red bell peppers, sweet potatoes/Jerusalem artichokes, eggplant, cucumbers, tomatoes, lubia Thai yard-long beans/okra/Iraqi lubia, slice of pumpkin, parsley/coriander/dill, lettuce, beets/kohlrabi. Free gift: mizuna/arugula/tot soi.

Large box, in addition:  Cauliflower/cabbage, carrots/leeks, turnips/daikon/baby radishes.

FRUIT BOXES: Pomegranate, avocado, persimmons. Small boxes, in addition: Red pomelos/oranges. Large boxes, in addition: Green apples

Wednesday: Swiss chard/New Zealand spinach/kale, red bell peppers, sweet potatoes/Jerusalem artichokes, eggplant, cucumbers, tomatoes/cherry tomatoes, cauliflower/cabbage, slice of pumpkin, arugula/parsley/coriander, lettuce, beets. Free gift: mizuna.

Large box, in addition:  Lubia Thai yard-long beans/okra/Iraqi lubia, carrots, turnips/daikon/baby radishes.

FRUIT BOXES: Red pomelos/oranges, avocado, persimmons. Small boxes, in addition: Pomegranate. Large boxes, in addition: Green apples.

December 17th-19th 2018 – Satisfied Fields

With the end of the olive harvest season, we have replenished our supply of the incredible Ein Harod olive oil. But that’s not all! Last week Hillel came to personally bring us fresh Barnea olive oil and a completely new stock of almonds, chickpeas, teff seeds and honey from the kibbutz apiary. Plus, delicious  eucalyptus honey to add to the already outstanding selection of jujube, citrus, avocado and thistle honey.

Order Ein Harod’s amazing array of field crop and apiary products today via our order system.

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And this is a perfect opportunity to remind you of the other excellent products you may order along with your vegetable boxes – all products of very special small manufacturers and farms from all over the country. You will find organic fruit; natural juices, ciders and jams; apple vinegar, olive oil, honey, date honey, almonds, dates, chickpeas and teff seeds, crackers, olives, tahini, coffee, cookies, chocolate, seasoning, flours, sour-dough breads, sprouts and goat dairy products.

Our website has a short description of each of the products and manufacturers. Read all about them and make your order via our order system.

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Singing in the Rain

Over the past weeks we have been blessed with wonderful allotments of rain. The field has received a nice big rainfall at least once a week, satiating the earth and bringing joy to the vegetables and farmers. Around a week and a half ago, the rain began on Thursday at 9:00 am and did not stop until late afternoon on Sunday! To our great delight, the steady continuous rain was not too strong in its intensity. Despite minor flooding at the edges of the vegetable plots, we did not experience any major erosion, with most of the water joyfully absorbed into our very fertile soil.

Arriving at the field on Sunday, we discovered that we had to think twice before taking each step to work in the field. Our feet eventually pulled out, but our boots were deeply buried in the mud…

Subsequently, after several days in which the sun came up and dried up all the rain before another rainfall came last Thursday, we can now work peacefully in our field. This week, too, we are enjoying the wintery sun and happily awaiting the approaching rain.

In honor of these thrilling rains and to share the beauty with you, I asked Avraham, a loyal worker and a skilled photography enthusiast, to snap some photos of the after-rain field.  Thank you, Avraham!

Our drenched field (note the unused irrigation hose resting on the far-end, staring dumfounded at all this rain…)

After the tractor plows the soft earth, deep furrows form. Here’s a close-up of the new Chubeza Brown Canyon…

The moisture caused even our tractor to grow tiny sprouts in between the weights hanging on its front. What will be next?!

One last photo, taken before the downpours, but still – so beautiful I cannot resist. One of the reasons these raindrops make us so very happy: the healthy, fresh and vigorous growth of arugula sprouts in our field.

Wishing us all a wet season blessed with steady welcome rain and peaceful happy days.

Shavua Tov, Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Yochai, Orin and the entire Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Fennel, lettuce/arugula/mizuna, kohlrabi/beets, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, cauliflower, spinach/totsoi/kale, coriander/parsley/dill, Swiss chard. Small boxes only: celery/ celeriac.

Large box, in addition: Broccoli/red or white cabbage, sweet potatoes/Jerusalem artichokes, leeks, radishes/baby radishes/turnips.

FRUIT BOXES:  Avocado, oranges, apples, bananas.

Wednesday: Fennel, lettuce/arugula/mizuna, kohlrabi/beets, cucumbers/peppers, tomatoes, carrots, cauliflower/broccoli, spinach/totsoi/kale, radishes/baby radishes/turnips, Swiss chard, celery/celeriac.

Large box, in addition: red or white cabbage, leeks, coriander/parsley/dill

FRUIT BOXES:  Avocado, oranges, apples, bananas.

April 30th-May 2nd 2018 – Unseasonal Rain

A new supply of Orli and Shahar’s honey candy has arrived – old-fashioned handmade candy in your choice of yummy natural, ginger, anise, mint and coffee flavors. Add them to your boxes via our order system.

A new product from Shorshei Zion’s Eliezer and Rose’s creative kitchen: Kale Chips: delicious crispy chips made of kale, cashew nuts, red pepper, lemon, turmeric, dill and sea salt. Roasted at a low temperature to keep in the vitamins. Yummy and crunchy! While you’re at it, indulge in Shorshei Zion’s excellent crackers, buckwheat granola, amazing cookies, pralines and exceptional chocolate – all vegan, gluten-free and sugar-free. Super unique and worth getting to know. Order today via our order system.

Good news! Kibbutz Neot Smadar in the Arava has replenished our dwindling supply of both the delectable majhoul date honey in a squeeze bottle and their tangy grapefruit juice, plus these other excellent products: date honey in a jar, fruity gluten-free health snacks, grape juice and plum or peach nectar. Available directly from our order system.

The Fragrance of the Field (Re’ach HaSadeh). Welcome to hyssop, Baharat and nutmeg, which join the very prominent list of hand-ground spices from Assaf’s boutique factory in Netivot. Don’t miss the exceptional quality of these new spices, along with Assaf’s ground black pepper, sweet paprika, cumin, curry, hawaij, cinnamon and a healthy pizza spice.

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April is the Cruelest Month

April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

From The Waste Land/ T.S. Eliot

The last few weeks have been a weather roller coaster careening us through stormy days and beautiful clear days, bright dazzling light and ominous dark skies, and dehydrating heat and boundless sheets of rain. This is the unstable spring we know about, but it seems like over the past few years spring has been shooting higher and higher towards the weather seesaw: the transitions are more extreme, the variations more surprising, and it’s all happening very late in the season.

When the showers came last weekend, we smiled to ourselves and pronounced them the last rains of the season. Then came the huge Wednesday-Thursday storms, and our hearts took a plunge when we heard the tragedy of the 12 who were killed and the one person still missing. Once again, we declared these to be the last rains of the season. But this week, the forecasts are once again tossing up the possibility of mid-week showers.

A walk in the field reveals no signs whatsoever of the heavy Wednesday and Thursday rains when the skies literally went dark, as if the light had gone out, and heavy rain pelted the fields. Huge puddles overflowed the soil, which was saturated as if we were in midwinter. Today, a mere two days later, after a spring sun quickly dried up the water, the heat reigns again and it’s hard to believe things were so wet only a few days ago. We are already reprogramming the water clocks to resume the irrigation we temporarily discontinued.

The extreme spring storms (though winter storms, too, have been more intense over the past few years) probably are connected to the global warming we have been experiencing over the past few decades. High temperatures speed up the vaporing process and energy-filled mists accumulate in the atmosphere to generate heavy clouds and surprising rain, stronger than what we have known. Global warming has also brought about a growing extreme between warm and cold air, and the convening of air currents within extreme temperatures makes for dramatic air movement, strong winds and heavy rain.

(I am careful as I write this, for just like the weather tempests, the world of science and meteorology is turbulent over varying opinions on global warming. My understanding is truly basic, and I will not hazard to offer to settle the debate.)

I am asked if these strong, late flash floods are bad for agriculture, and the answer is – it depends.

Wheat growers in our area are in a delicate position: those who harvested their grains early (usually in order to feed animals) rushed their reaped bales into a shelter and saved them. Those who did not, and whose yield is still scattered around the field mounds or was collected into bales but left outside to dry are concerned that a large part of the wet stalks will rot. The unharvested wheat fields are also in harm’s way if the stalks are bent by the winds and heavy rain, making them more difficult to harvest.

But the main victims are the fruit orchards. The hail wounds and rots the fruit, while the strong winds make the fruit fall from the tree before it has fully ripened. And sometimes even a large amount of rain, without hail, can be destructive. The fruit is over-saturated with water when it’s almost ripe and begins to swell rapidly, but its skin is not able to grow at the same pace and splits open. The real grievers are the preliminary fruits of the deciduous trees: cherries, nectarines, peaches, almonds, apples and plums.

Organic fruit orchards are more sustainable, as they are usually covered with a net structure designed to keep away pesky insects. Because organic agriculture abstains from chemical spraying, the common way to protect fruit trees from the harmful fruit flies, birds and other hungry creatures is a mechanical solution: covering the trees with a dense mesh net (similar to our net house or the agril material we spread over our crops). In stormy weather – hail, winds and heavy rains – the net may tear and require mending, but it usually provides significant protection to the sensitive fruits.

What about our very own vegetable field? Most of the time, these rains are a blessing for us (as long as they’re not hail) even when they are late or intense. Howeer, the combination of wet and warm is a challenging one in terms of leaf diseases and fungus, since within a day or two after it warms up, we usually identify the disease and its swift remission as the moisture quickly evaporates. We experienced it this year with our early melon beds, when the early-April showers brought the plant pathogen “Peronospora destructor,” but within a few dry days we saw the disease wilt and the plants regain their vitality. The positive side of these showers is that they refresh the vegetables and provide a significant irrigation round and a breath of humidity before the heat prevails till autumn.

At the start of another unpredictable, wavering week, we wish us all peaceful days, whether rainy or shiny. May we be capable of handling the weather-induced confusion and disarray, may we take deep breaths of rain and sun combined, and may we encounter the blessings of nature every step of the way.

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

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Swiss chard/New Zealand spinach, onions, lettuce, cucumbers/fakkus, leeks, tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage/fennel, zucchini, cilantro/parsley. Small boxes only: beets.

Large box, in addition: Kale, cauliflower, parsley root/celery stalk, garlic.

Wednesday: Swiss chard, onions, lettuce, cucumbers/fakkus, leeks, tomatoes, potatoes, cauliflower/fennel/cabbage/carrots, zucchini, cilantro/parsley, parsley root/celery stalk.

Large box, in addition: Kale/New Zealand spinach, beets, garlic.