Aley chubeza #157, May 6th-8th 2013

A slight delivery change next week because of the Shavuot festival: Wednesday deliveries will move to Thursday, May 16th. Monday deliveries remain unchanged.

Wishing you a Chag Sameach!

 —-

 In Klara’s message from last week regarding macrobiotic cooking, the information link is faulty. If you wish to receive more details or sign up to her workshop, please contact Klara directly: 052-342-8058  klara_levine@yahoo.com

_____________________________________

One Season Following Another…

The unending heat waves have been hard for us all, human beings, animals and plants alike. The air is heavy with dust and haze, and temperatures are heavy and dry. And how is the Chubeza field responding to this oppressive spring heat? The summer vegetables are not fazed by it at all—they’re even enjoying the dryness. They quench their thirst via irrigation, so they make sure to drink the correct amounts and enjoy looking straight up at the sun, which makes them grow faster and stronger.

If you come visit us at this time (please do!) you will enjoy the field’s majesty: the cucurbits, from small to large, have begun covering the area with green, healthy foliage; the cucumbers are bearing sweet fruit, and the fakus is following. The melons and watermelons are growing at a merry pace, their branches sprawling everywhere, as if they are stretching their limbs to get an even tan (their leaves, especially the watermelon’s, really do look like outstretched hands). You’ve already received some light-colored zucchinis, and this week their dark green-striped brother will be making an appearance in your boxes.

Members of the solanaceae family are beginning to take their places of honor: the peppers, eggplants and tomatoes are growing nice and upright, green and strong. They will soon begin to show their flowers, yellow for the tomatoes and peppers, and gentle lilac-purple blooms for the eggplants. This will be the next step on the way to bearing fruit, coming this summer. Their cousins the potatoes, which grew over the past winter months, are really almost ready for a spring harvest, in honor of the holiday of the first fruits (Shavuot).

The green bean, unfortunately, is reluctant to develop this year. We don’t really know why, but we’re still hoping it’ll get over this crisis for us to enjoy it before the bean gives up when the heat gets too strong. The black-eyed peas and yard long beans are beginning to make their way to the top of the trellising vines, climbing steadily by their twisted, intertwined tendrils. They could not care less about the great heat and feel totally at home.

In contrast to the happy summer vegetables, the poor winter vegetables ending their season in the field resemble workers at the end of a shift: they are exhausted, and the heat is getting to them. The cabbage, carrot and celery have grown mostly in cool to cold temperatures, which they prefer (even when it was freezing out, they did not complain!) and now, at the end of their term they suddenly encounter summer (which usually likes to make a grand entrance with a killer heat wave), which is just too much for them.

That’s why at times you find a carrot or beet that are softer than usual, their green leaves not as fresh or a cabbage that is tired. Respect them, they were with us all winter long, and even now, as they grow older and live in non-optimal conditions, they still are able to ripen and cheer up your dinner table with the winter sweetness they store inside. Root vegetables which grew soft (carrot, beet, celery root, parsley root, etc.) can be soaked in cold water. They’ll perk up and grow stiffer, and they’re even easier to clean after their soak. Then, place them in a sealed container and into the fridge. Use the cabbage. They are yummy and delicious despite their weary appearance, which they even carry in the field. These are the last of our winter guests. Try to receive their parting epilogue with love.

Wishing you a Shavua Tov, and may we continue to grow accustomed to our hot spring,

Alon, Bat Ami, Ya’ara and the Chubeza team

 _____________________________

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Green lettuce, parsley root, dill/coriander, tomatoes, garlic chives, cabbage, celery stalk, cucumbers, daikon, purple kohlrabi, zucchini

In the large box, in addition: carrots, leeks, Swiss chard, beets

Wednesday: Swiss chrad, cucumbers/fakus (light color cucumber), cilantro/dill, beets, lettuce, zucchini, garlic chive/scalions, purple kohlrabi, carrots, tomatoes, parsley root – small boxes only

In the large box, in addition: cabbage, celery/celeriac, leek, lemon verbena/thyme

______________________________________

Spring recipes for late winter veggies:

Kohlrabi Salad with Nectarines & Beets

35 (!!) zucchini recipes

Couscous Tabbouleh With Parsley Root and Preserved Lemon

Unstuffed Cabbage with Chickpeas, Zucchini, Swiss Chard and Bulgur

Swiss Chard with Cabbage, Chickpeas & Garlic

Aley Chubeza #154, April 14th-17th 2013

A short message this week:

This week’s weather is appropriately fickle and complex, much like these days in Israel. After long weeks of dry skies, this week started out sunny and nice, only to swerve midway into a wintery, rainy mode.

The vegetables in our field are making the transition from winter to summer. We bid our broccoli, cauliflower, peas and fava beans farewell till next fall. Their colleagues the kohlrabi, fennel, celery and daikon have returned for a spring round, but with more modest spring dimensions that enable them to require less water and to better tolerate the heat. The summer vegetables which have been growing in the field for two months now are beginning to arrive in your boxes: the garlic (nice and big by now), the fresh onion which is drying up as we speak, and even the zucchinis, which carry with them the promise of summer.

We are vigorously working to set up a mesh-covered greenhouse. For the first time at Chubeza, we will attempt this summer to grow some of our vegetables in a structure covered by a dense net to prevent insect pests from entering. This is to protect those vegetables who are particularly vulnerable to the diseases and viruses of the summer heat, most of which are transmitted by various insects. We will expand upon the subject sometime soon.

Wishing you a week of good and calm days,

Alon, Bat Ami, Ya’ara and the rest of the Chubeza team

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Green or red lettuce, fresh garlic, parsley, tomatoes, beets, Swiss chard, celeriac, cucumbers, carrots, zucchini, cabbage

In the large box, in addition: Fennel/kohlrabi, fresh onions, potatoes

Wednesday: beets, green cabbage, cucumbers, parsley/cilantro, green or red lettuce, zucchini, celery or celeriac, fennel or kohlrabi, carrots, tomatoes, green garlic – only small boxes.

In the large box, in addition: fresh onions, parsley root, Swiss chard, daikon

_____________________________________

One recipe this week…

After last week’s newsletter, Ruth from Jerusalem wrote me: “I hope your husband reads the newsletter and changes him mind. This recipe might help win him over. We love it:

1 head Romain lettuce cut thin (yes, with a knife but it’s OK cuz gets eaten pretty quickly — and mine never turns brown even when it’s leftover – perhaps because it’s almost marinated)
2-3 Diced scallions
Fresh lemon juice – I would use about 1-1/2 lemons for a head of lettuce
A tbsp or so of some kind of mild flavored oil – not olive
S&P
1 tbsp of sugar
Mix well and let stand for a while before eating (20-30 minutes should do)

Aley Chubeza #152 – March 18th-20th – Happy Pesach

Pre-Pesach messages:

§ There will be no delivery over Chol Hamoed, Wednesday, March 27, and Monday, April 1.

§ Deliveries scheduled for the Monday before Pesach will be brought up to Sunday, March 24.

Those who wish to expand your box or make a special holiday order, please inform us ASAP.

Subscribing to our weekly newsletter

The best way to receive messages and updates is via our weekly newsletter, which is published on our website and arrives directly to your email inbox. Those who do not receive the newsletter and wish to do so, please advise.  If you prefer to receive a hard copy along with your box, please notify me.

Open Day at Chubeza:

In keeping with our twice-yearly tradition, we invite you for a Chol HaMoed “pilgrimage” to Chubeza to celebrate our Open Day.

The Pesach Open Day will take place on Thursday, March 28, the 17th of Nissan, between 1:00 PM-6:00 PM. For those who have not yet experienced it, the Open Day gives us a chance to meet, tour the field, and nibble on vegetables and other delicacies. Children have their own tailor-made tours, designed for little feet and curious minds, plus activities and a vast space to run around and loosen up.  (So can the adults…)

On the Open Day, we also have a stand for vegetable sales, so you can replenish your vegetable supply.

Driving instructions are on our website under “Contact Us.” Please make sure to check this out before heading our way.

Chag Sameach from all of us at Chubeza! We look forward to seeing you!

_________________________________

Written in Early Spring

For the past few weeks, it’s been official: spring is here already. The weather is appropriately chaotic—hot, then cold, with heat waves and showers taking turns surprising us with their appearance. It’s been almost two months since we’ve had actual rain, and the wheat growers around us are worried. Wheat cannot grow with irrigation, and spring is the time when the grains in the spike become filled (barley precedes wheat by a bit; more about this later). Without water they cannot do so, and the spike will remain empty. We join the farmers in their prayers for some hearty showers over the next few weeks.

Astronomically speaking, spring begins on the day of the vernal equinox, where the length of day is equal to the length of night. Spring ends on the summer solstice, when the day is longest and the night is shortest. For us in the northern hemisphere, spring begins on March 21st and ends on June 21st.  Spring is traditionally known as a season for awakening, renewal and love. This is the season for wooing and for romance, providing perfect weather for lovers. Yet in Israel, spring is not such a pleasant, temperate interlude.  Here, spring is the season of topsy-turvy weather—pleasant days which turn to rainy ones followed by a hazy heat wave, just like we’ve been seeing over the past few weeks. Yet, when the European immigrants arrived here, they couldn’t face bidding farewell to the European season of rejuvenation and blossoming, thus they promptly inserted it into the Israeli calendar. And indeed, regardless of the weather pattern, as they say in Proverbs, “No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.”

In the Bible, the term spring (aviv in Hebrew) defines a particular stage in the development of grain, the start of ripening when the stalk begins to harden. In our region, the first grain to ripen is the barley, and the month of aviv is that month when barley reaches the stage of development called “aviv.” This “aviv” of the grain takes place at a time when the rains have diminished, the sun is shining and the temperatures are beginning to rise. And so, in Hebrew, this transition time between winter and summer came to be called aviv. It is also the month that the Children of Israel came out of Egypt. The book of Exodus (9:31) recounts the effects of the plague of hail, saying, “And the flax and the barley were smitten; for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was in bloom. But the wheat and the spelt were not smitten; for they ripen late.”  The short spring of the month of Nissan is indeed a fine time to go out of Egypt for a sojourn in the Sinai Desert (as those Israelis congregating in Taba will certainly attest). Rashi even wrote, “This is what he indicated to them: See the kindness which He has done to you, for He brought you forth in a month in which it is fitting to go forth, not (too) hot and not (too) cold, and no rains.” (Commentary on Exodus 13:4)

There are those who claim that the word aviv derives from the word av, meaning father, the head of the family, the first in the family, denoting the very first ear of grain during the period of ripening. Others believe that the origin of the word comes from a different meaning of av – a fresh, young plant which is presently blossoming, such as ibei ha-nachal, the “green plants of the valley” mentioned in the Song of Songs, (6:11) and “odenu be’ibo,” (whilst still in its greenness), Job 5:12. Other languages, too, tend to take words for “first” or “early” as their roots for the season’s name, like primavera in Spanish and Italian and printemps in French. The English word spring comes from the notion of the “spring of the year,” when plants “spring up.”

And blossoming does indeed provide the pervading hue of the spring season, as the writer Eliezer Smoli wrote, “Anyone who traverses Eretz Yisrael at this time of the year, whether on foot or even by car, will be met by a flowering abundance wherever his eye shall turn. Like one vast colorful carpet covering the flat land from the north to the Negev, from the east to the west, mountain and valley, hill and dell, immersed in a swell of every varied color. A true celebration of flowering at this season of the year. Spring in the very fullness of the word. Yet one who looks closely at the sea of bloom before him will discern, at the very outermost part, at the edge of the dotted tapestry, a withering that is slowly creeping up, and here and there are signs of balding. It appears that out of intention and knowledge, as it were, the abundance of flowering is concentrated in one short, finite period, for behold, the rains are over and gone and the sun has emerged from its sheath. The power of the east overcomes the west, day by day. The rainy season, which fought a diligent, daily all-out war, surrendered at last to the sunny days. Upon the horizon, a misty heat wave rises and an idle breeze breaks through to cross the Jordan and swoop westward—with the withering and wilting in its wake.”

During this period, the beekeepers are preparing for their busy season to extract the honey that the bees prepared from the nectar gathered during the blooming season, from winter till now. At Chubeza, we’re also feeling the coming of the honey—our honey stock from last season is dwindling away. If you ordered a kilo of honey lately, you’ve heard that all we have left is a very limited assortment. Together with Daniella and Tamir, we await the bee season and the honey they will produce in another month and a half or two, from the wonderful flavors of their hives

Shepherds also celebrated at Pesach. Spring is the birthing time for lambs and goats, and there’s an abundance of milk, labeneh, cheese and butter. This is a good reason to hold a celebratory feast, to thank the Almighty that the winter has safely passed, and to pray that the entire herd—even the youngest animals—will go safely and peacefully to graze in the pasture.  To this day, a spring rite of Bedouin shepherds is to dedicate the first butter to Moch’an, their patriarch of nomadic shepherds. When the milking season comes, they use a leather pouch to collect the butter made from the milk produced during the first three days. On the third day, they prepare a great feast in honor of Moch’an, and only afterwards do the shepherds themselves partake of the new butter.

Pesach, the holiday of spring, ushers in the parade of agricultural holidays in Eretz Yisrael, with Nissan being the first month of the Hebrew calendar. During this holiday, the farmers are fortified with strength and many hours of sleep they accumulated during the slow winter season, where they were able to rest and restore their energy (and forget how hot last summer was…). Now they’re tackling their spring tasks, one of them being… (you guessed right) – spring cleaning!.  In ancient Persia, the first month, corresponding to March-April, was Adukanaiša, which apparently means “Irrigation-Canal-Cleaning Month.”

After sowing in tears, the barley has ripened, heralding the time to reap in joy. At the close of the first Pesach holiday, a traditional celebration was held to mark the barley harvest season, by the ceremonial first binding of the sheaves. A lovely description of this ancient ceremony and of its renewal by the Zionist Movement is depicted on this PowerPoint presentation by Machon Shitim (in Hebrew).

This ceremony and this season were also accompanied by great apprehension. As the entire season’s crops are about to ripen and become ready to harvest, the volatile weather placed tremendous pressure upon the farmers. In the words of the Yalkut Shimoni, “At Pesach, one will not find simchah (joy) written even once. Why? For at Pesach, the yield is judged, and no one knows whether this year will bring a yield or not.”

Accordingly, the vegetables in our field are making staunch efforts to be able to show up at your holiday tables, without much help from the heavenly showers. The lettuce is adorning itself, boasting its importance as maror at the Pesach Seder. The celery is racing to grow nicely, to serve as your karpas; the fresh fava bean is grinning under its pod at the non-Ashkenazi Jews among us. Meanwhile, bursting with the scents and flavors of spring, the parsley and celery roots, carrot and other soup vegetables are anxiously awaiting their annual date with the kneidlach at those tables unvisited by the fava beans.

And before we part, we extend warm wishes and a message of love to Dror (Monday and Wednesday deliveries in Jerusalem) and Naomi on the birth of their son (in perfect timing with Chubeza deliveries. How thoughtful…);to Ya’ara, my assistant whom most of you have met, and Dotan on the arrival of sweet little Kim, and to our dear Lobsang, one of our most veteran workers, who finally received a teudat zehut and a permanent status in Israel.

We join in the hope and prayers that this holiday and this coming season will be blessed with honey, milk and the fruit of the land, which will bring health, peace and happiness. Chag sameach!

Alon, Bat-Ami, Yaara and the Chubeza team

________________________________________

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S SPRING BOXES?

Monday: Lettuce, fresh garlic, snow peas, tomatoes, beets, fava beans, celery/celeriac, cucumbers, broccoli/ cauliflower, parsley, green cabbage/ purple cabbage

 In the large box, in addition: garlic chives, carrots, daikon

 Wednesday: beets, cabbage, cucumbers, cilantroqparsley, snow peas, lettuce, fava beans, celery/celeriac/parsley root, green garlic, carrots, tomatoes

 In the large box, in addition: broccoli/cauliflower, garlic chive, kale/Swiss chard

Aley Chubeza #67, May 16-18 2011

In honor of spring, the following new products are now available to be added to your boxes: spelt semolina from Minchat HaAretz, and goat cheese products such as white cheese (gvina levana), cream cheese and yogurt from the Yotav Dairy. Meanwhile, it’s bee season, and we look forward to the imminent arrival of a new stock of honey in a host of different flavors.

A complete list of all available products, new and old, can be found on our order form.

_____________________________________________

Saturday’s weather report went like this, “Did anybody say ‘spring’? Rain has been falling since early morning in the northern and central part of Israel, accompanied by thunderstorms and gusty winds. During the day, the showers will spread southward, with a chance of flooding in the Dead Sea region and in the Judean Desert.”

At Chubeza, this weather was received joyously, as we splashed in the puddles from the short, festive rain that fell upon our smiling vegetables. Sometimes I am asked if the unexpected late rains hurt our crops in any way. The answer, of course, is no. On the contrary, they freshen the vegetables and provide them an additional bonus spray of moisture before the great heat waves set in. In honor of this late rain and its accompanying cloudiness, we are dedicating this newsletter to rain showers and to late arrivals.

In Hebrew, the final rain of the season is called malkosh. Usually it arrives in April or May, parallel to the month of Nissan. The malkosh signals the end of the rainy season and the beginning of summer, the dry season in our region. The malkosh is unique to the Mid-Eastern climate, where there is no rainfall in summer. In temperate climates, the rains don’t ever stop for long, which is why there is no special significance to the last rains of the season.

In the Hebrew blog “לא שומעים!” Dubi Kanengisser ponders, “The most beautiful word in Hebrew (specifically because of its meaning) is malkosh. It is a post factum word. Every dummy can spot when the first rain comes. But in order to determine the malkosh, you have to know for certain that there will be no rain that follows. To quote Niels Bohr, ‘Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.’ Personally, I wonder if this word exists in other languages, which is hard for me to believe. This is such a Hebrew word. I can’t imagine that other nations thought of making up a word for something you cannot name until a few weeks after you’ve experienced it…”

So from where does this special word derive? The word malkosh is first mentioned in Deuteronomy as one of the blessings God promises to bestow on the nation of Israel if they adhere to His commandments: “Then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring (malkosh) rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil. I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.” (Deuteronomy 11, 14-17). It is interesting to observe that the language unique to our rainless country is the one that assigns different words to the different varieties of rain: the yoreh is the first rain, while the malkosh is the last rain. Sometimes a wealth of reality produces a precision of words, like the many words for snow in the Eskimo language. Here, however, it is probably the yearning, need and actual lack that creates different words for the very crucial rains of the season: the first and last.

(See our Hebrew newsletter for an extended discussion regarding the etymology and various interpretations of the Hebrew word malkosh.)

There is sometimes a feeling that the malkosh puts a damper on the warm, smiley spring. Unlike the first rain that is so refreshing after the long, dusty summer that we can’t wait for it to quench our thirst as well as the dry fields, the last rain comes late. By now we’re already tired of rain, and anxious for spring to come. Being always late myself, the malkosh is my representative in the showers society, and I am always happy with its arrival. I never am upset that the slides in the play ground are wet again; it’s like a late birthday present. Way to go, late-comers!

Our field is accepting the malkosh in perfect Spring syncopation: the last cabbages, celery, kohlrabi and carrots are already bidding their farewells. This week we are digging out our first spring potatoes, the red Désirée variety. The zucchini, radishes, cucumbers and fakus are already in your boxes, with mint and basil in the offing. The field is planted with almost all of the summer plants by now: tomatoes, peppers and eggplant, string beans, lubia, okra, pumpkins, melons and watermelons. They’re all growing very nicely. Green soy (edamame) is last, our very own malkosh. The seeds has just arrived, and will plant them this week.

Hoping that the renewal and energy of Spring are making your hearts and palates rejoice, and wishing you pleasure and happiness from these malkoshim.

Alon, Bat Ami and the Chubeza team, sighing in relief with every day that does not bear a heat wave…

_______________________________

What’s in this Week’s Boxes?

Monday: lettuce, Swiss chard, parsley, New Zealand spinach, red potatoes, celeriac, tomatoes, cucumbers or fakus, carrots, zucchini, beets

In the large box, in addition: cabbage, leeks, basil

Wednesday: beets, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, paesley, basil, Romaine or iceberg lettuce, green cabbage, red potatoes, celeriac or celery

In the large box, in addition: leeks, mint, Swiss chard or New Zealand spinach

And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers of these organic products: granola and cookies, flour, sprouted bread, sprouts, goat cheeses, fruits, honey, crackers. You can learn more about each producer on the Chubeza website. The attached order form includes a detailed listing of the products and their cost. Fill it out, and send it back to us to begin your delivery soon.

 

The Return of the Recipe Corner is Near, I Promise!!!!!

Aley Chubeza #62, March 28-30 2011

Spring messages:
Pesach delivery changes:
During Chol HaMoed Pesach, there will be no delivery. Wednesday recipients will not receive boxes on April 20th, and Monday recipients will not be receiving on April 25th. Consequently:

• Monday recipients will receive boxes on the following dates: Sunday, April 17th, Monday May 2.
• Wednesday recipients will receive boxes on the following dates: April 13th, April 27th.
• Bi-weekly recipients: Because of Pesach week, you will have a three-week delivery gap. To rearrange your delivery dates to avoid this gap, please contact me ASAP.

If you wish to increase the contents of your box for the Holiday, please contact me ASAP!

In accordance with Chubeza tradition, we invite you to set out for your “pilgrimage” and celebrate with us on our Open Day at Chubeza. This year’s celebration will take place on Thursday, April 21, the 17th of Nisan (during Chol Ha’Moed). Stay tuned for a full schedule of activities.
__________________________________________
Last-time-before-Pesach orders for Yiftah’s bi-weekly baking are being received now. Please send your orders by Friday. Yiftah finishes preparing and baking the loaves next Wednesday, and they will be delivered in the boxes of April 6th and 11th. You can order Yiftah’s hand-baked, sprouted breads via our order form or via email/telephone.
_________________________

“And all the rest goes on as usual in this country, which appears to die in our arms with winter, and come back to life in spring. An incorrect perception and gross mistake of the senses, for the force of spring would be nil, were it not for winter’s sleep.”
Jose Saramago

Over the past few days I’ve been getting the feeling that summer’s already here, just occasionally hiding out under a blanket of clouds and rain. At night it can be very cold, and the early morning is wet and chilly. But by afternoon when the sun comes out, it suddenly becomes so hot that a lost, scorched memory of summer begins to defrost. In our field, our namesake the chubeza (mallow) plant is bearing fruit. The air is filled with the intoxicating scents of blooming, and fluttering with the movement of birds, insects and other animals that were either hibernating or just slowed down during wintertime and are now born anew. If you open your eyes, you will notice many a sign of spring: birds of many feathers in flight overhead during this season (I am especially humored by the partridge that plays a mean game of “chicken” with our tractor), ladybug pupae ready to hatch in a few days, and even a gentle show of tiny holes in our leaves, left by hungry flying insects.

Our harvest list is another sign, even though winter vegetables still appear on the roster: broccoli, cauliflower, root vegetables, fennel, garlic, carrot and peas. Yet a walk through the field reveals a marked change in its demeanor, now becoming springier and more summery. In no time, spring will be in full burst. This process begins in the depths of winter, from the beginning of February. We stop planting at the end of December, and in January the field is almost totally void of seeding and planting, resting comfortably through the great cold. At the beginning of February, the first spring plants arrive: tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant and pumpkin. These plants are placed into the still cold, wintry earth. To urge them on, we tuck them in by covering the earth with protective sheets (made of corn starch), and spreading a clear protective plastic atop the sheets to retain warmth.

February’s planting is twofold: another round of coriander, dill, daikon, radishes, potatoes and beets; plus new spring additions of tomatoes, zucchini, eggplants, pumpkins, cucumber and onions. Last year we were disappointed by the onion seeds, which refused to cooperate and sprout. We thought the mood swings of spring were liable: first the heavy rains that washed away the earth, and then at a second trial, the oppressive heat wave. Either way, the onions simply did not grow. This year we are happy to report a nice show of sprouting. For our part, we’re attempting to protect the young, growing plants from the onion flies that lay their eggs in the bulb and terminate it. Going on the offensive, we planted traps in the onion beds, yellow glue-covered boards that attract flies to their color that then get stuck. This, of course, is not a foolproof solution. As organic farmers, we are experienced in paying our tithe to the field insects, but this fly-trap ammo does give us a fighting chance to reduce the fly population and save most of the onion crop.

In March, we carry out the second round of planting and seeding. There’s a second round of tomato and zucchini, plus the addition of melons to the pioneer group of crops. Then, a second round of cucumbers, coriander, dill, radishes, onions and beets, plus the first round of pumpkins, fakkus and green beans. What a field day for the field! As Adar makes way for the month of Nissan, we start yet another round: the sweet corn is planted in the earth alongside popcorn, more green beans, fakkus, cucumbers and zucchini, as well as our first winter squashes: the dalorit, curry and spaghetti squash.

This early seeding of spring crops at the end of winter is very important. The plants receive the last winter rains, which is particularly significant in this year of very late rains.  I remain enchanted by the simplicity with which wonderful thirst-quenching raindrops fall from the heavens so easily, bountifully, freely, naturally… And although we have already learned to successfully sprout via drip irrigation systems and hoses, there is a huge difference between the effortless, nonchalant sprouting by rain and the incredible efforts involved in watering the crops artificially.
Growing early in the spring is also beneficial for avoiding virus and insect attacks. Perhaps you noticed the abundance of the Cucurbita family (cucumber, fakkus, squash, pumpkin, watermelon and melon). This is because this delicious, friendly family fights off different viruses at our farm every year, specifically the Cucurbita fly that lays its eggs in the nice, soft fruits the plants managed to grow. The end of wintertime and beginning of spring are seasons when the viruses and pesky flies linger, but the plants are able to happily and efficiently grow under the plastic, their improvised hothouse.

And lastly, we hope this early timing of spring crops will fill up the boxes during the upcoming transition period, when we find ourselves surrounded by beds that have finished their yield and those that still need a few weeks to ripen. At this point, the zucchinis are actually ripening, as well as the cucumbers that made an early arrival this year. What fun!
Indeed, these are difficult, complex times in which we live: stress on our southern front, danger and disaster in Japan, and riots in Arab countries. Yet amidst all these perils, the seasons forge on, and spring is busting out all over. Miriam from Rishon L’Zion wrote me these encouraging words which I’ll share: “You know, when you wake up in the morning and the sun is shining, or the rain falls upon us, and we stand on our feet – these are good days. Always look at the full half of your cup and be grateful – these are good days.”

Wishing you a happy spring and good days,
Alon, Melissa, Bat Ami and the Chubeza team
_____________________
And What’s in this Week’s Still-Winter Boxes?

Monday:  lettuce, peas, parsley, green garlic, cauliflower, fennel, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, coriander, celeriac
In the large box, in addition: fava beans, broccoli, leeks, dill

Note: In Monday’s large boxes, the dill is a “bonus” we’ve sent. This particular dill is from a bed that we had to pick early, due to last week’s cold snap. Even though it’s not up to our usual standard, it will be tasty and fine if you use it quickly. Do not store.

Wednesday: cilantro, parsley, cucumbers, green garlic, tomatoes, carrots, cauliflower, lettuce, peas or fava beans, Swiss chard, small boxes: fennel or broccoli
In the large box, in addition: fennel and broccoli, celeriac or parsley root, leek

And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers of these organic products: granola and cookies, flour, sprouted bread, sprouts, goat cheeses, fruits, honey, crackers. You can learn more about each producer on the Chubeza website. The attached order form includes a detailed listing of the products and their cost. Fill it out, and send it back to us to begin your delivery soon.
____________________________
End of the Winter Recipes:

Sometimes mistakes turn out to be beneficial. Ornit’s box contained fennel, despite her request to replace it with a different vegetable. She decided to take up the gauntlet and find a recipe for the unwanted fennel. The result was a soup so tantalizing that the diners licked their lips. And you win, as well! Here’s the recipe:
Cream of Fennel Soup
(from 1,000 Vegan Recipes by Robin Robertson)
1 T olive oil
1 med onion, chopped
1  large fennel bulb with fronds, chopped
1 large russet or Yukon Gold potato, 1/2-inch pieces
3  cups vegetable broth
1/2  cup frozen peas
1/2  t. dried tarragon
1  t. fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper
1 cup plain unsweetened soy milk (optional)
In large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion, fennel and potato. Cover and cook until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 min.  Add broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until vegetables are tender, about 30 min.  Stir in the peas and tarragon and cook 5 min longer.
Puree soup, stir in lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.
(We thought it tasted better without the soy milk – it just thinned out the flavor.)

Seasoning-Herb Salad
(by Debbie from Kibbutz Gezer)
1 package dill
1 package parsley
¼ package nana (mint), leaves only, and/or basil and/or oregano and/or coriander, washed and chopped

Sunflower seeds, shelled, and chopped almonds or shelled and sliced—Roast in oven or pan.
Dressing:
Juice of one small lemon
Olive oil, 2/3 the quantity of the lemon juice
1-2 T. pomegranate juice concentrate (if unsweetened, add 1 T. sugar)
Trace of balsamic vinegar
Salt and white pepper