Aley Chubeza #219, October 20th-22nd 2014

Thank you!

First and foremost, it is a pleasure to thank all of you who helped out with the Open Day: Maya, the arts and crafts wizard; Mama Devora and sister Tzipi, who kneaded the dough and baked the pitot; Mohammed, who manned the vegetable stand, Majdi, at the nosh table and various other jobs he took upon himself throughout the day; to Poom, Ding, Vinai and Poyo who harvested the vegetables for sale and nibbling, to Manu, Puah and Oded, Melissa, Yoav and Galia, who offered their yummy and/or fine products for sale (baked goods, goat cheeses, dried fruit leather, olive oil and second-hand clothing items…), and last but not least, to the one and only Hazel Hill Band that livened up the atmosphere with great, joyful and festive music. And to all of you who came to celebrate with us and all the visitors, to meet us and hear about what’s going on at the farm, to put in a good word, ask questions, take a tour of the field, and help out during the day.

It is such a pleasure to feel this supportive and stable community that has built up around the farm over the past decade. Your ongoing loyalty and support – in buying vegetables, visiting on  Open Day, rejoicing and celebrating with us and lending a hand when requested (and just going to help wherever you saw the need)  – all make our efforts worthwhile and pleasurable. We are blessed with a fine field, great neighbors and wonderful partners in this endeavor. Thank you all!

Lost and Found at the end of the Open Day: Sunglasses, baby bottle, baby hat and pacifier. If you identify any or all of these as your own, let us know and we will send them in your next vegetable box delivery.

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Sometimes “back to normal” is in itself a reason to celebrate. Efrat from Jerusalem invites you all to a celebration of sidewalk chalk drawing at the Jerusalem Messila Park this Wednesday (today) from morning to evening. Weather forecast is for a nice, clear day. Come one, come all! See this link for more details.

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Hillel from the Ein Harod Organic Field finally arrived at Chubeza, bringing with him their excellent almonds as well as a renewed supply of organic hummus and olive oil. This year, the almonds and chickpeas are sold in pre-weighed packages (chickpeas in 1 kg packages, almonds in 200 gr). Add these delectable delicacies to your boxes via our order system.

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Greens, Glorious Greens

Our back-to-routine week commenced with joyful rain. Though, as usual, Kfar Bin Nun gets only a small quantity of showers. We already know that here the rain always arrives fashionably late, so even today (Sunday), as the rains came pouring all around us, we only received scattered showers. Still, we were all excited about it. Rain!!

So yes, it is indeed autumn, and to all you “doubting Thomases” who claim there is no autumn in Israel, let me guess that none were pregnant at this precise time between summer and autumn. For any average expectant mama can tell you the exact moment when the miracle occurred and the heat burden eased, the weather gliding between heat and chill, cloud and shine. And yes, over the past few weeks it is evident that autumn has indeed arrived, nicer and better than ever (proclaimed the pregnant maiden)… The temperatures dropped a bit, a nice breeze began blowing, and autumn veggies started to ripen one after the other.

I’m sure you’ve noticed the change in your boxes. After a few monotonous weeks at the end of summer, over the past weeks we have begun harvesting sweet potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, beets, daikon, kohlrabi, turnips, joined this week by beets and carrots as well. And of course, so many new leafy green veggies have arrived, from the smaller ones who are literally jumping out of the earth headed for your boxes, to the bigger ones, who take their time…

And if all of the above hasn’t convinced you yet, I know for a fact that it is fall when my green-o-meter shows a dozen emails with the common subject, “What are those greens in my box this week?”  So many greens are now growing happily in Chubeza. Some of you are very happy with the plethora of greens over the winter, and even request we not remove the beet and turnip leaves so as to make use of them as well. Yet others of you are a bit overwhelmed, and wonder what can be done (again) with all those greens. So this week we will start to tell you a little about some of the greens you will be meeting over the upcoming season, beginning with several members of the Brassicaceae (aka Cruciferae) family: mizuna, tatsoi, pak choi/bok choy and arugula.

Members of this esteemed family are able to cleanse the earth and purify it from diseases and fungi. The jury is still out on exactly how this process, termed “biological disinfection” or “biofumigation,” occurs, but apparently when the green content of the Brassicaceae decomposes inside the earth with the help of enzymes, some volatile matter is set loose that is poisonous to pathogens and diminishes them. In order to enjoy these advantages, you can combine the Brassicaceae in your seeding rounds and upon harvest, to plow them under the earth, growing them as green-manure cover crops (i.e., without harvesting, but rather stuffing the whole plant into the soil) or even use the remains of plants that grew in a different bed and were plowed into the earth in order to cleanse the earth before growing an exceptionally vulnerable crop.

When I worked in California, I learned of research regarding the growing of broccoli, cauliflower and mustard (all members of the Brassicaceae family) as a type of earth cleansers prior to growing strawberries. The outcome was good, and the method was adopted by non-organic farmers as well, since they grow other crops in the field when no strawberries are planted, so why not grow something that will eventually help and ease the life of the pampered strawberries?

This is a process that occurs naturally, as part of the amazing ability of nature to unbalance the balanced and stabilize conditions. It’s no wonder that we see mustard plants taking over every available piece of earth. They must be in charge of cleaning, purifying and restoring the earth by its powers and living forces. As farmers, we know we do not work the way nature does. Farming is forever an artificial act forced upon the earth, and yet, as organic farmers we try to learn as much as we can from nature in how to tone down the extreme and return some balance.

And thus, during in-between periods of empty soil in the net house, we grow young greens from the Brassicaceae family which will speedily grow, enjoy a protected and clean environment in the net house, and prepare the earth for our next crops. The mizuna, the bok choi and the arugula are the representatives. All of Asian origin, the mizuna is Japanese (Brassica rapa var japonica) and the tatsoi and bok choi are Chinese (rassica rapa var chinensis).

These greens are definitely mustardy, but not sharp. Their flavor is exotic, fresh, slightly sweet, and absolutely delicious! The arugula leaves are a bit sharp, but their distinctive type of piquant flavor adds zest to a salad, even combined with sweet fruit. They enhance cheeses, and a very light cooking can slightly temper the spiciness.

Check out their “selfies”…

mizuna 
Tatsoi (Spinach mustard, Spoon mustard, or Rosette bok choy):
Tatsoi (Spinach mustard, Spoon mustard, or Rosette bok choy):
pak choi / bok choy
Arugula

The nutritional value of the Brassicaceae is similar to that of the cabbage and other upstanding members of their prominent family. They are rich in vitamin C, fiber and folic acid, as well as calcium and beta carotene. They can be used like other greens, Swiss chard or mustard: in cold or hot salads (steamed or stir-fried), combined with rice or pasta, as a green addition to soup, or simply as a crunchy bite in a sandwich. In any case, they are not to be overcooked. One to two minutes are more than enough.

Have a good autumn week, and an easy return-to-routine. Bon appétit, and Livriut

Alon, Bat Ami, Maya, Dror and the entire Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Mizuna/tatsoi, beets, lettuce, tomatoes, slice of pumpkin, okra/green and yellow beans/Thai beans/lubia, coriander/dill, cucumbers, eggplant, arugula, radishes/daikon.

Large box, in addition: Red bell peppers, leeks, sweet potatoes

Wednesday: cilantro/dill, mizuna/tasoi, cucumbers, tomatoes, okra/beans/lubia (fresh black eye pes), red, yellow & green bell peppers, radishes/daikon, beets, arugula, sweet potatoes, small boxes only – lettuce.

Large box, in addition: scallions/leek, piece of pumpkin, white turnip/kohlrabi, eggplants

And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers: flour, fruits, honey, dates, almonds, crackers, probiotic foods, dried fruits and leathers, olive oil, bakery products, pomegranate juice and goat dairy too! You can learn more about each producer on the Chubeza website. On our order system there’s a detailed listing of the products and their cost, you can make an order online now!

Aley Chubeza #192, March 10th-12th 2014

Next week, Purim is scheduled to joyfully arrive. In order for us to prepare for harvest day, the order system will close down for any instructions/orders for Monday (Shushan Purim) earlier than usual– by Thursday, 9:00 PM. This will enable us to prepare on Friday. Please, please do not send in late requests. On Sunday we will be unavailable by email or phone. Please let us know of any orders or changes in your boxes ahead of time—and have a wonderful Purim celebration!

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In honor of Purim, Melissa from Mipri Yadeha is preparing a special, creative line of yummy products for Mishlochei Manot:

The Scroll of Esther–distinctive, hand-fashioned leather scrolls in a royal package: fruit leather in select flavors: peach, clementine, apple-ginger, persimmon-carrot, guava, pomegranate, apple-date, orange-apple and more. 10 NIS per scroll.

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And…Pesach is lurking in the bushes, ready to pounce. For the third year in a row, Asaf and Arik from “Minhat Ha’aretz” offer their handmade Matzot shmurot made from Israeli organic wheat. This year they are selling crispy or soft matzot, as well as handmade matzot from spelt flower (non-organic). Click this info page for further details (in Hebrew).

Prices: 125 NIS per kg organic wheat shmura matza, 140 NIS per kg spelt matza. For orders: email or text us by March 27th. The matzot will arrive at your home the week before the holiday (April 7 or 9)

Chag Sameach!

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A New Leaf…

As Purim prepares to make its entry, our own little winter disguised as spring has undergone a facelift and dressed up as winter. A little itty bitty winter. The week started out with cool, rainy weather, with the forecast calling for an overcast, rainy week. We’re hoping for a v’nahafochu, where our field will be liberated and saved, and we shall rejoice in the rain, mud and fog.

Over the past two weeks, we began harvesting new greens that we’ve been doting on in our net house. These greens are not so well known, not even to veteran clients, because it’s been awhile since we’ve grown them. So here’s some info about the mizuna (or Japanese mustard green) and the bok choy. In Israel they are marketed as “baby greens” (a mesclun mix) because they are young and tender. Besides being low-calorie and high in nutrition, they are truly delicious, great in salads, as a nosh, in your sandwich and even stir-fried (very lightly, though.)

Here they are:

mizuna
pak choi / bok choy

So if they’re so great, why haven’t we grown them in ages? Well… growing these specialty greens requires much precision: they grow very fast, and we have to grow them clean, as greens are not supposed to be washed till just before you use them. On the other hand, we cannot wrap up and send you muddy baby greens, especially since they’re so small, and it doesn’t make sense to perform a general cleaning. In the past we have attempted to grow such greens as mizuna, cress and others, but only the tot soy and mustard greens survived, and we started growing even them as full-sized greens, not the “mini” varieties. Apparently, the open field is not the place for young greens…

But this winter was different. We now have a net house, whose raison d’etre is to open up growing possibilities which did not exist in the past: growing summer tomatoes over a longer season and with greater success (open field tomatoes are quickly damaged by diseases and viruses, and their season is very short), and growing cucumbers and zucchini in the summertime, protected from the nasty fly and other insect-transmitted viruses. Over time, we have discovered that other crops enjoy the comfort provided by the net house, which boasts warm weather in wintertime (just a little warmer, as it is a net house, not a hothouse. Still- it’s significant) and some shade in the summer. It protects against insects that nibble on the young plants (the kohlrabi, for example) before they even grow, and protects against flying insects that penetrate the leaves (like in beets and arugula). It now seems that the net house can be more efficient that we ever imagined.

But, of course, the space is very limited and unlike the open fields where the rounds easily rotate and there is absolutely no problem (quite to the contrary) to have a field stand empty and wait a few months. In the net house we grow fewer varieties of crops, and thus look for the type that can grow in-between seasons, for short periods of time, and be able to improve the soil.

And this is where the Brassicaceae’s come into the picture. Members of this family are able to cleanse the earth and purify it from diseases and fungi. It’s still unclear exactly how this process, termed “biological disinfection” or “biofumigation” occurs, but apparently when the green content of the Brassicaceae decomposes inside the earth with the help of enzymes, some volatile matter is set loose that is poisonous to pathogens and reduces them. In order to enjoy these advantages, you can combine the Brassicaceae in your seeding rounds and upon harvest, to plow them under the earth, growing them as green-manure cover crops (i.e., without harvesting, but rather stuffing the whole plant into the soil) or even use the remains of plants that grew in a different bed and were plowed into the earth, in order to cleanse the earth before growing an exceptionally vulnerable crop.

This is a process that occurs naturally, as part of the amazing ability of nature to unbalance the balanced and stabilize conditions. It’s no wonder that we see mustard bushes taking over every available piece of earth. They must be in charge of cleaning, purifying and restoring the earth with its powers and living forces. As farmers, we know we do not work the way nature does. Farming is forever an artificial act forced upon the earth, and yet, as organic farmers we try to learn as much as we can from nature in how to tone down the extreme and bring back some balance.

And thus, as we prepare to grow tomatoes in the net house, and since we had an in-between-period of empty soil, we decided to grow young greens from the Brassicaceae family which will speedily grow, enjoy a protected and clean environment in the net house, and prepare the earth for our next crops. The mizuna and the bok choi (as well as the arugula, which is growing slowly and may pop over for a surprise visit) are the representatives. They are both of Asian origin. The mizuna is Japanese (Brassica rapa var japonica) and the bok choi is Chinese (rassica rapa var chinensis).

They are definitely mustardy, but not spicy. Their flavor is exotic, fresh, slightly sweet, and absolutely delicious!

Bon Appetite!

May we enjoy a wintery, rainy, joyful and laughable week!

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

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Cauliflower, lettuce, tomatoes, kohlrabi/ daikon, leeks/fresh garlic, cucumbers, dill/parsley, mizuna/bok choy, snow peas. Small boxes only: fennel, purple or white cabbage

Large box, in addition: Coriander, carrots, beets, celery/celeriac, fava beans/ garden peas

Wednesday: kohlrabi/beets, leeks/green garlic, cucumbers, cauliflower, cilantro/dill, fava beans/garden peas, snow peas, broccoli/cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes, fennel – small box only.

Large box, in addition: carrots, parsley, celeriac/celery, mizuna/bok-choi