June 20-22, 2022 – Making our Garden Grow

We are excited to tell you about Noam Cohen-Levi, a new local farmer joining our cottage industry producers. The reason we’re so excited by this news is that Noam is an ex-Chubeza worker, and he is charming, professional, thorough and talented. He grows sprouts in Moshav Sataria, not far from Chubeza. But we will allow him to introduce himself, his products and his work methods:

My name is Noam Cohen-Levi and I grow sprouts, arugula and distinctive leafy green assortments in Moshav Sataria. For just over a decade, I have worked in the realm of agriculture (including Bat Ami and Alon’s amazing field) and learned the secrets of organic agriculture. Two years ago, I decided it was high time to put my experience into practice, drawing from everything I learned, to make it my own. 

Our agriculture is based on the working hands of my family and myself, and we believe in simplicity and hard work. We work only manually, with no heavy machinery, attempting to preserve the natural surroundings as much as possible. 

We started our small company with our sprouts, which we grow from organic seeds that are neither sprayed, fertilized or assisted by any such artificial conditions as refrigeration, heating or lighting. Everything we grow is organic from seed to box, though we are temporarily without supervision. We believe that our sprouts and other greens are receiving the best conditions to grow as healthy, nutritious and fortifying vegetables. We are happy to work the land for you and serve you authentic, natural food. 

Add Noam’s sprouts today to your boxes (sprouts with soil, see photograph) via our order system, under “Sprouts and Mushrooms”.
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This week we would like to request your help in expanding the circle of the Chubeza community by spreading the word about Community Supported Agriculture and direct purchasing from the farmer. Before we tell you exactly what we need from you, let’s take a moment to discuss the larger picture of the idea and phenomenon.

When Ecclesiastes said, “To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven,” he was surely referring to the CSA movement ideology of partnership between farmers and consumers – a movement Chubeza is a part of. And not just because farms grow vegetables in season and send fresh produce in boxes, but also because this model arose simultaneously and independently in Japan, Chile and Europe– without either country being conscious of the other (in the pre-“like us on Facebook” era). This happened in the 1960’s, when an awareness of the dangers lurking in modern chemical-based farming and global market economy were beginning to emerge. Countries were losing farming viability because import was more economic (sounds very relevant and familiar). In short, people began waking up to the problem of agriculture that moves further and further away from the mouth that consumes them, and began searching for answers.

At that time, Japan became concerned with food safety following a disturbing revelations on “Minamata Disease“, where a village was badly struck by mercury poisoning. This episode, among others, caused more and more Japanese citizens to opt for organic food, but they encountered difficulties in this endeavor as well: on one hand, the increased import of agricultural produce posed a threat to local Japanese farming. On the other hand, forgeries and fabrications in labeling organic products sent consumers in search of an alternative. Japan is a country with a longtime tradition of cooperatives, thus it’s no surprise that a small group of woman formed the first farm-consumer cooperative, going in search of a farmer who would create a partnership of mutual support. They integrated the TEIKEI commonly translated as “food with the farmer’s face on it.”

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world:

At the beginning of the 20th century the anthroposophist movement was established, based on the ideology of philosopher, architect, and Austrian teacher Rudolf Steiner, and on his writings in education, medicine, arts, religion, economy and agriculture. The anthroposophist philosophy is broad and complex, and its specific relationship to agriculture is otherwise known as “biodynamic agriculture.” The foundations for applying anthroposophist tenets to practical farming were set out in a series of lectures given by Steiner in 1924, in which he characterized the optimal agricultural system as a complete ecologic system where people, animals, plants, microorganisms, earth, water and air exist in a dynamic balance and equilibrium.

Steiner also focused on “associative economics,” to create an alternative to a competitive economy by cultivating reciprocation and communication between manufacturers, merchants, credit suppliers and consumers to deal with issues of fair prices, actual needs, reduction of poverty and expansion of social equality and environmental influences. Is this sounding a little too “Summer of 2011”? To think that this happened nearly a century ago!

A combination of the two approaches–biodynamic organic agriculture and an economy based on cooperation and reciprocation–served to create the ultimate model: a partnership forged between farmers and the non-agricultural community to confront these issues.

At the end of the 1960’s, the Buschberghof Farm, a German collective farm based on these principles, was established alongside a “collaborative agricultural community.” In Switzerland, a similar process took place, influenced by the Chilean cooperative movement during the regime of Salvador Allende (1970-1973).

The development of the CSA movement in United States was quite similar to that of its European counterparts. I won’t go into the details here, but for those interested, I recommend this very informative and interesting article about the origins of the movement, focusing on the nation’s pioneer CSA farms in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

What about Israel? Leah Sigmund was the pioneer of the Israeli CSA. A biodynamic farmer from Kibbutz Lotan in the Arava, she grew an organic vegetable garden in her kibbutz and operated a CSA over the years 2000-2001. They distributed approximately 30 boxes to various places, specifically Eilat, but also to Metzokey Dragot, Mitzpe Ramon and even to a group in Jerusalem! After a few successful years, the program closed down when Leah pursued advanced studies in the U.S.

Leah’s endeavors at Lotan were the example I set for myself when I established Chubeza in 2003. When I first established the farm I encountered a lot of sarcasm from veteran farmers, who assured me, “It will never work– Israeli’s aren’t suckers like the Americans and won’t buy a vegetable they haven’t seen.” or  “It’s been tried before, and people are just unwilling to have someone else determine what vegetables they will eat” or “yeah right, just try to tell them there are no tomatoes in January…” In my naiveté, 19 years ago I decided it had to work.

In the beginning, we were loners in the realm. Over time, more and more new and veteran farms chose the CSA path, and they are now thriving and succeeding. Today there are multiple small farms in Israel which act in a similar manner, adhering to the social communal perspective, and not solely out there for the money (though I do not underrate the importance of that matter).

The original idea of the CSA is in its title – Community Supported Agriculture, creating agriculture supported by the community surrounding it. Over the years, many farms have been established under the umbrella of agricultural-community partnership, spanning a wide range of commitment and involvement on the part of the community. At one extreme is the actual communal farm, belonging to, operated by, and supported by the community. In this type of farm, the members set the budget, as well as the annual membership fee to finance the budget. The community is also involved in determining what to grow, how to grow it, the variety of vegetables selected, purchasing equipment, etc. In many such farms, the members commit to a number of hours or work days in the field or in the management of the CSA.

At the other extreme are the majority of CSA’s, farms such as Chubeza that offer a “membership plan” where the clients commit to a short-term period (weekly, half a season or a full season) and pay the weekly fee in advance or by monthly payments. In this type of farm, it is the farmers who are responsible for the ownership and management; the clients are partners by virtue of their willingness to commit to membership and payment in advance for next season’s crop. Sometimes they lend a hand by organizing distribution or by working in the field. On the whole, members’ level of involvement is their own choice, with different people involved in different ways.

The common denominator between the various farms, and what makes them a partnership of farmers and community, is expressed in direct sales from the field to consumer, direct communication via the newsletter, the growing-protocol and the estimated crop schedule, seasonal feedback, and the encouragement of clients to comment and make recommendations and requests. Involvement is almost always augmented through visits to the field, pick-your-own days, planting events and seasonal celebrations. And again, the clients themselves determine the level of involvement and their willingness to take part in these events, read the newsletter, respond or give seasonal feedback.

So it’s true that this phenomenon may be small and relatively marginal, and perhaps this is how it will stay. But these “hedgerows” are so beautiful and green, nourishing and joy-inspiring. In our little Israel, where there are no “suckers,” there are enough people who believe this is a way of life, and choose to receive a “weekly box of surprises” and learn of a different sort of agriculture: one that is manual, varied, balanced, surprising and alive.

This is where you come in. We’ve had some openings freed up and we are glad to welcome new members. We believe the best way to understand what’s it all about is to hear it from someone who already receives Chubeza vegetables and can share his/her experience, challenges and advantages of joining Chubeza.

We’ve prepared an information leaflet (in Hebrew) you can forward by whatsapp or Facebook or any other way.

Thank you for your support throughout the years, and in the present.

Have a good week,

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

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Cherry tomatoes, zucchini/onions, parsley/coriander/dill, potatoes, beets/carrots, eggplant/green peppers, lettuce, Swiss chard/kale/New Zealand spinach/basil, tomatoes, cucumbers/fakus, melon/watermelon.

Large box, in addition: Corn, butternut squash/acorn squash/slice of pumpkin, scallions/ yellow beans/garlic.

FRUIT BOXES:  Peaches/nectarines, avocados, cherries, bananas.

Wednesday: Cherry tomatoes, zucchini/onions, parsley/coriander/dill, potatoes, beets/carrots, eggplant/green peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers/fakus, melon/watermelon, corn/butternut squash. And a free gift: Swiss chard/New Zealand spinach/basil

Large box, in addition: Acorn squash/slice of pumpkin, scallions/leek/parsley root/garlic, yellow beans.

FRUIT BOXES:  Peaches/nectarines, avocados, cherries, bananas.

Thank you for your visit on our Open Day Festival!

A Happy Start for Spring  

This week, we are delighted to add to Chubeza’s line of special products to add to your vegetable vegetable boxes the outstanding Cashew Cheeses prepared by Tal of Karmei Yosef, right near us. Tal’s personal story is special and inspiring:

Hello everyone, I am Tal Ron. My wife Limor and I, our five children and three granddaughters all live in Carmei Yosef.

During my wonderful life, I’ve worked in many professions, from being a film and television director, to a glass bead artist, through to becoming a sourdough bread baker. Today, I make a living from holding small events and workshops in our vineyard.

Several months ago, I was diagnosed with cancer, which gave me the impetus to make a major change in my life: I threw out milk and gluten, started eating only organic vegetables, meditating, qigong, taking walks, and everything that could be done for my health. But slowly the lust for cheese crept in and began gnawing away at my stomach…

I began buying vegan cheeses, checking online recipes, and comprehending more about the production process. I then entered the kitchen and started an endless series of experiments, until I reached the final product. I did all this for myself, but the minute my friends began tasting my creations, the flow of cheese requests increased by leaps and bounds.

We are now taking another major step: After tasting the cheeses, Chubeza has willingly and enthusiastically agreed to offer you to enjoy the cheeses as well. I am very excited at this opportunity, and thank Chubeza from the bottom of my heart.

For me, cheese making has become a crucial part of my healing process, which is progressing well, thank God. I am treated only with plants, medicinal mushrooms and vitamins, which is why we called our cheese production B’shvil Habriut (“for health”).

B’shvil Habriut cheeses are available in five flavors: natural, garlic dill, fig, sun-dried tomatoes, and Kalamata olives. Each product weighs 180 grams, and costs 37 NIS. They will be sent to Chubeza customers frozen, to arrive in a cold, solid state. Keep them refrigerated. Just before being served, take the cheeses out of the fridge to enable them to be served soft.

May we all enjoy as much good health and happiness as ever. We hope you’ll enjoy our cheeses and will be happy to hear your comments: 0522771212.

ADD TAL’S VERY SPECIAL CHEESES – AND A HOST OF OTHER WONDERFUL PRODUCTS – TO YOUR BOXES VIA CHUBEZA’S ORDER SYSTEM TODAY!

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What fun we — and you too, of course – had at our Open Day at the Farm last week! After a long, painful Corona-caused two-year break, this Open Day was a true cause for celebration in the field.

The truth is that this time I was really emotional (those who joined the first tour heard me get really choked up…). At Chubeza, we chose to grow vegetables, but also community. This twice-yearly event is important for us to emerge from the pleasant field bubble and personally meet the faces, voices, questions and thoughts of our members. The pandemic put a halt to this, and during the daily race it became hard for us to feel just how much this was lacking.

This year, from the minute we began preparations for the Open Day, I already felt us filling with energy and joy. When you started to arrive, with smiling faces and shining eyes, our hearts were overjoyed.

It is a true pleasure to thank all those involved in the planning and operation of the Open Day. Our great thanks to all the dedicated and wonderful Chubeza staff, without whom we could not have held the event.

To the field crew, who deftly set up and organized the entire area

To Majdi and Muhammad, who took command of the vegetable stand at the packing house.

To Shar, who washed and peeled and cut vegetables for yummy noshes.

To Einat, who, as always, helped to improve and repair all that was needed, headed the cooking corner, took photos, and more.

To Gabi, the amazing Tractor Driver who provided quite a few kids (and probably adults as well) an unforgettable experience.

To Talia and Noga, Bat-Ami’s daughters, who came in the morning to help with the organizing, prepared arts and crafts samples and headed the Art Corner with patience and kindness.

And, of course, to those of you who came. Thank you so much for attending, and thank you to everyone who introduced themselves. It’s always nice to connect there in person and get to know you really well, not just through correspondence or phone calls.

We had great fun! Hope you did too!

Wishing everyone a pleasant, calm return to Routine, and nice spring days. (Get out, go see and savor this amazing burst of Nature’s beauty!)

From all of us at Chubeza

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Parsley root/celeriac/celery stalk, carrots, coriander/parsley/dill, cabbage/fennel, zucchini/slice of pumpkin, fresh garlic, Swiss chard/kale, fresh fava beans/snow peas or garden peas, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce/curly lettuce.

Large box, in addition: Beets, fresh onion bunch/leeks, potatoes/sweet potatoes.

FRUIT BOXES:  Pomelas, avocados, oranges, bananas, apples/pears.

Wednesday: Parsley root/parsley, carrots, coriande/dill, cabbage/fennel, zucchini/slice of pumpkin/snow peas or garden peas, Swiss chard/kale, fresh onion bunch/leeks, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce/curly lettuce, beets.

Large box, in addition: Celeriac/celery stalk, fresh garlic, potatoes/sweet potatoes.

FRUIT BOXES:  Pomelas/lemons, avocados, oranges, bananas/clemantinot, apples/pears.

September 19th 2021 – Come join us on Friday!

We’d like to remind you that this week we are not sending vegetables boxes, but we invite you to come and visit us – This Friday, September 24th between 10:00-13:00 is our Sukkot Open Day and we’d be delighted to have you join us!

The Open Day gives you a chance to see where your vegetables are growing, to get a close-up look at them in the field, and to smell, touch, taste. And of course, you get the chance to meet us, the faces behind your veggie boxes, as well as your fellow Chubeza members who create the community that supports local small agriculture and makes the farm a reality.

We’ll have:

Field Tours: every hour – Come wander between the beds, meet the plants and the stories that accompany their growth. Alon is leading a more “professional” tour; Bat-Ami’s tour is designed for kids. Tour schedule (more or less…): 10:00, 11:00, 12:00.
Arts & Crafts Corner – This year we focus on circularity and renewal – to remind us that these corona years will be evantually over, and they will be just a chapter in the mandala of history and our lives: we will make seed balls (from paper or soil) that can be put in a planter or pot – water and grow at home happy greens you can snack on for fall meals.
Yoga workshop for couples (parent and child, two children, two adults …) led by Einat – an introduction to several yoga poses as a connecting activity between two. Will be held at 12:00 p.m. Feel free to come in comfortable clothes and bring a yoga mat (not required).

Due to corona restrictions there will be no food-related activities this year: unfortunately we will not be able to offer vegetables for refreshments and we will also avoid the traditional cooking activities. You are welcome to bring a picnic from home, and drinking bottles (there will be cold water for refilling, of course) – we have also prepared for you our famous corn stalk Sukka, plentiful shade and fresh air..

Vegetables, fruits and additional homegrown products will be available for purchase at our produce stand during the festival.

Driving directions to the open day festival here.

Come one! Come all! See you soon!

Chag Sameach,
Alon, Bat-Ami and the Chubeza team.

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POPCORN!!!

Last Friday I was accompanied to the Chubeza field by two very sweet kids who just started First Grade (but haven’t really been able to step foot in the school yet thanks to holidays/isolations/rumors of isolations, etc.). After making the rounds to say hi to the chickens, the orchard, a roly-poly bug, and a tractor they admired, they sat with me in the office and reported that …..they were bored. I sent them to the Packing House to see if anything there may be of interest, and they returned with……dry corn. Those two made the absolutely best choice. True, they’re now the Little Guys in school, but they recalled their Chubeza vegetable studies! They knew that this was not cooking corn, but popcorn!! And with endless patience (and giggles each time a kernel jumped up their nose) and great pride, they hauled their treasure home, straight to the popper.

So, in honor of Noga and Atai, and all their fellow brave new First Graders in the midst of the Corona commotion, this week’s Newsletter is devoted to that hard, shrunken corn that you received in your box (or will receive in the coming weeks), the popcorn that proves that if you give even the hardest, most rigid clench a little warmth, patience and trust, it will bounce and burst and find its very own inner softness as well.

Traditionally, the end of each summer heralds the popcorn season. Over the next few weeks, you will be receiving smaller and stiffer corn cobs than usual. Don’t toss them out figuring Chubeza’s crop went bad this week. These are actually rare, delectable treats. It’s popcorn!

To celebrate this joyous corn creation, we are proud to present our traditional Popcorn Newsletter. Settle back in your chairs and enjoy the show!

Back around 3500 BC in a cave in North America (somewhere central-west of today’s New Mexico), the guys were hanging out together, glued to the TV of the era, the blazing campfire. As the flames danced and brought joy to their hearts, they had to nosh on something. But for reasons that remain shrouded in mystery, they somehow did not polish off everything from their plates. Remains of that late-night-nosh were discovered over 5000 years later by archaeologists in 1948, in what became known as world’s oldest popcorn. (It still looked quite crunchy and yummy, but a tad too stale to nibble on.)

The popcorn is indeed a special species of corn, small and hard. They were seeded in March along with the first round of corn, but after the plants grew dark red-bearded cobs, we cut off their water and allowed the cobs, smaller than the sweet corn variety, to fully mature and dry on the stalk. Last week we picked the dry, hard cobs and stored them in our warehouse for further drying and hardening. How wonderful to munch on food that bears a history of thousands of years of noshing!

Popcorn comes in many colors and forms. Here are a few of them:

A particularly cute type is strawberry popcorn, which looks like this:

Native Americans used popcorn even before they discovered the corn we know and love so well. They probably fell onto popcorn by chance, as some random kernel rolled into the fire and suddenly popped. This surely led to attempts to reenact the wonder, and later to make it an institution. In ancient times, they would roast the popcorn by heating the cobs over a direct flame or in a pit in the ground filled with sand and heated to a high temperature. The cobs were placed into the pit whole, and the kernels would pop on the cob, wrapped in its sheaf and protected from the sand. Prehistoric cooks also made special utensils to roast this snack, clay pots with feet to place atop the fire.

Primeval Americans used the popcorn not only as nosh. They made soup and beer out of it, and used popcorn as a decoration in ritual ceremonies as well as for jewelry and head ornaments. Tlaloc, the Aztec God of Rain and Fertility, was adorned with popcorn-string necklaces, and the God of Water and Protector of Fishermen would receive an offering of “hailstones” made from popcorn. Europeans who arrived ashore were also welcomed with gifts of popcorn necklaces, and to this day there are those who decorate their Christmas trees with fresh, aromatic popcorn.

One modern, non-conventional popcorn-based attempt—which ultimately failed—was to use popcorn as an ecological, biodegradable substitute for Styrofoam packing material. You must admit that this is a very captivating idea, yet sadly the popcorn’s natural appeal attracted insects and other pests and organisms to the party. The popcorn completely lost its beneficial packing qualities when wet, and was prone to flammability. Alas.

Popcorn, or in its scientific name, Zea mays averta, is a subspecies of flint corn. Flint corn got its name from its hard-as-rock shell, one of the required components for popping. Also required are a proper level of humidity and a high level of starch within the kernel. Due to the kernel’s hard shell, when it’s heated, the moisture locked inside turns to steam and the pressure builds up. The starch inside the kernel gelatinizes and becomes soft and pliable. The pressure continues to mount until reaching the breaking point of the hull:  the steam forcefully explodes, exposing the soft starch. The starch expands and dries rapidly to become the dry, crispy, puffy foam we call popcorn.

Watch this movie demonstrating the process in very dramatic slo-mo

Some Tips:

– For the foam to dry quickly, place the kernels in a pot in a thin layer to create crispy popcorn that will not reabsorb the moisture from the pot.

– FYI, popped popcorn kernels expand exponentially beyond their original size. Two tablespoons of raw popcorn kernels produce 2 ½ cups of the popped product!

– In its natural form, popcorn is an excellent choice for a healthy snack. Air-popped popcorn is naturally high in dietary fiber, low in calories and fat, and is both sodium and sugar free. This, of course, relates to clean, fresh popcorn, minus the addition of butter and oil, salt or caramel that transform it from a handsome prince to a scary toad.

Storage: Popcorn kernels might look tough, but they won’t stay that way unless you treat them properly. Storing popcorn in the fridge may dry it out or make it too moist to allow popping. Best to keep popcorn kernels in a dry, dark cupboard away from heat, moisture and light. It is advisable to separate the kernels from the cob and store in sealed jar, ceramic container or sealed tin.

Here is how you do it, starring: Chubeza Popcorn as himself, AND Talia’s hands, the hands which rock the Chubeza website. (Talia doubles as our website-wizard…)

Making quality popcorn is an art in itself. The quality and quantity of the popping depends on the rate at which the kernels are heated. If heated too quickly, they’ll explode before the starch in the center of the kernel can fully gelatinize, leading to half-popped kernels with hard centers (formerly the hull). The tip of the kernel, where it attached to the cob, is more sensitive than the rest of the hull. Heating too slowly will crack the tip and allow steam to escape, preventing the build-up of pressure and the ultimate popping. In the past, making popcorn in a pot was a task that required training, specialization, and great skill. In today’s era of the microwave and automatic popcorn-popper, everything is so much simpler, but still it’s a good idea to put aside a few kernels and try the old-fashioned popping method of yesteryear.

Popping Instructions:

In microwave: Place small quantity of kernels (approximately 2 T) into a paper bag you received in your box (make sure it’s dry and not torn), and fold the edge of bag to seal. (At last: a way to re-use those paper bags!) Set timer for 2-3 minutes, and listen carefully. After a few seconds the kernels will start popping loudly, setting the bag into a lively, throbbing rumba. When 3 seconds without any popping have elapsed, remove paper bag from the microwave. Caution! It’s hot. Make a small opening for ventilation; allow steam to escape, and then cool. Add the seasoning of your choice and nosh away.

In a pot: (from the website of Kibbutz Sha’ar Hagolan)

You will need: Popcorn. A pot. Oil.

We all know the black and sooty telltale spots shamefully lining the pots, reminding us of unsuccessful popcorn, or the sad “old maids,” the un-popped kernels that will never receive another chance.

Here’s how to avoid these embarrassing failures, step by step:

The Pot: Use a wide, tall pot so the kernels have room to expand.

The rule is 3 T oil for each ½ – ¾ cup of popcorn. The oil should cover the bottom of the pot and coat each kernel. (You can combine oil and butter, if desired.)
Step 1: Pour the oil and wait a bit till it warms up. (Can use one or two kernels to test.) When oil-bubbles form around kernel, it’s time to start.
Question: Should we toss the kernels?
A: In the beginning of the process, you can give the pan a little shake to arrange the kernels in one layer and for the oil to cover.
Step 2: Leave the kernels on medium heat. When you start hearing the first to pop, lower the flame.
(Babysitter: Keep an eye on them. This is no time to check your email.)
Listen to the sound of the popping kernels. When the popping diminishes, it’s time to turn off the flame. Do not open the pot till you hear the silence of the all-popped popcorn.

To all of Chubeza’s First Graders, we wish you and every new student great years ahead of wonder and fascination, friendship and play, enjoyment and happiness!

Wishing you all a good week. Enjoy the autumn breezes that are already here, and a joyous Sukkot!

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

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Sunday: Bell peppers, Thai yard-long beans (lubia)/short Iraqi lubia, Swiss chard/New Zealand spinach/basil, eggplant, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, slice of Neapolitan pumpkin/butternut squash, sweet potatoes, potatoes.

Large box, in addition: Leeks, cherry tomatoes/okra/popcorn, parsley/coriander,

FRUIT BOXES: Small boxes: Apples, pears, mangos. Large boxes: Greater quantities of all of the above, plus grapes.

DDecember 28th-30th 2020 – Who did you just call a vegetable? Or: what is in your winter Chubeza boxes?

We are delighted to inform you that the Matsesa has launched a limited edition of wintery warm cider with 5.5% alcohol. Choose from three deluxe favors:

  • Apple cider with rosemary, star anise and lavender
  • Apple cider with cinnamon, clove and star anise
  • Pear cider with sage, rose petals and cardamom

Best sipped hot, but also delectable as a cold drink with ice.

You are welcome to add this gourmet delight to your veggie box via our order system and savor every drop…

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Come take a peek at our garden
Parliament of all that grows
The beds so green
Our joyful hearts ardent
Each vegetable raises its head with a flair
And the sweet flower fragrance fills all the air

Moshe Aharon Avigal, from: Kulanu Hever Poalim, anthem of the first School for Workers’ Children in Tel Aviv
(loosely translated by A. Raz-Meltzer)

We do tell you that we grow vegetables in the Chubeza fields. But unlike fruit, where you’re pretty sure what you’re supposed to eat (the part that includes seeds, surrounded by juicy and fleshy matter, and wrapped in a peeling), vegetables are far more confusing since we call almost all edible parts of a plant “vegetables,” sometimes even when they are fruit… I could say that in general, the edible parts are green and fresh, but we refer even to the dry parts (e.g., garlic or onion) as vegetables.

So, this week we shall explore some of the vegetables from this angle: what part of the plant is actually in your box this week?

Let’s start with a short quiz: What plant part is each of the following vegetables:

If you gave a different answer to each picture, you may actually be right. In Chubeza’s winter vegetable boxes we are able to enjoy all parts of the plants, from head to toe or rather from root to fruit. There are roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruit and pods. Some I’m sure you can easily recognize, but others are more surprising. Time to embark upon our fieldtrip:

The root of the matter: Usually plants develop their roots underground where they are used to grasp onto the soil and soak up water and nutrients. There are also roots which store food, ventilate or reproduce. The edible roots are almost always storage roots, chockfull of the nutrients that the plants stored within them. Our boxes contain such roots as: Tubers (the thickened underground part of a stem), either sweet like the carrot, beet and sweet potato, sharp like the radishes and daikon, or mildly sweet like the turnip, celeriac or parsnip; Bulbs (the part of the stem that functions as a food storage organ and has thus thickened and lost its chlorophyll) such as the Jerusalem artichoke; as well as onions composed of layers of scales (a modified type of leaf that changes in order to act as a storage organ and has lost its chlorophyll): onion, fennel and garlic.  As mentioned, the roots do not include chlorophyll, the substance responsible for the green color in most parts of the plant. In the absence of chlorophyll, our roots transform into a range of lovely hues: orange, purple, yellow, pink, and white… When we pick roots, we are in fact pulling them out of the soil, sometimes assisted by a pitchfork, while other times (though not always), we cut off the part above the roots: stems and leaves. Once picked, the roots that dwelt in the wet wintery soil are usually in need of a nice soak in the tub before being packed up and delivered to you.

* Perhaps you’re thinking: but wait, what about the potato? Well, Mr. Potato does not belong here because he is not a root! But we’re jumping ahead of ourselves. Patience!

From the root, we ascend to the stem: The stem is the organ that sprouts up from the root, and most leaves sprout from it. The stem’s main job is to transport food from the roots to the rest of the plant parts via its transportation pipes. The root’s secondary role is to uphold the rest of the plant parts, something like a green spine. Our boxes include stems that are also connected to their roots, like the scallion, or stems without leaves, like the celery. Winter-thickened stems are treated respectfully at Chubeza – these are the vegetables who at first glance look like a bulb or onion and are easy to confuse, but they are in fact a thickening of the bottom part of the stem, just above the topsoil. Did you guess it right? Yes, I am referring to the kohlrabi and fennel. Unlike roots, these two are not tugged out of the soil but rather released by being cut away from the strong root connecting them to the earth. If you look closely at the bottom of a fennel or kohlrabi, you can see the actual slicing mark.

Now, it’s time to guess the identity of another distinguished thickened stem which frequents your boxes quite often: It’s hard to realize that this vegetable is a stem, because unlike “regular” stems, this one is an underground thickened stem. The telltale factor is that it did not lose the ability to produce chlorophyll. Though it doesn’t develop within the vegetable as long as it lies dormant in the dark earth, when exposed to the sun it takes on a greenish hue. Have you figured it out yet? Of course, this is the potato! The potato bulbs develop from underground thickened stems, and as mentioned, the potato’s greenish hue is a sign that chlorophyll is developing upon being exposed to the light, because after all, it is still a stem…

Keep on climbing, and we reach the leaves: Leaves are in fact the mouth of the plant, which it uses to “eat” light and thus create energy via photosynthesis. Leaves usually sport a shade of green (but not always) due to the chlorophyll, that same pigment which helps to carry out the photosynthesis, and water+CO2+light result in sugar, i.e., energy. Chlorophyll (from Greek: khloros: pale green; phyllon: leaf) could be translated ‘the green of the leaves.’ The smooth leaf which connects the leaf to the stem is termed ‘petiole,’ while the body of the leaf is the ‘lamina.’ Within the lamina are veins whose job is to transport nutrients to the leaf: In the center you can identify the Midvein that splits sideways into smaller (secondary) veins. There are many leaves in your winter boxes, in various shapes and uses. The small or tiny leaves of the parsley, dill and coriander are used for seasoning. Slightly larger leaves like tatsoi, bok choi, mizuna, arugula or lettuce are usually designated for salads, and huge leaves that can sometimes cover the entire length of the box and more, like Swiss chard, kale and spinach, are generally cooked.  But there is one more serious leaf vegetable in your box that may look a little different because its leaves are not flat: the cabbage. At a certain point in its growth process, the leaves begin to grow inwards creating a ball-shape, with more and more leaves growing inside this ball and compressed within to create the cabbage head.

The next stage in the plant’s development, after it sprouts a stem and leaves above and sends its roots deep down under, is the blossoming. The flowers are the plants’ reproductive organs – they create the reproductive tissues (the male Stamen and the female Pistil), and summon the rendezvous between the reproductive tissues within the flower or other flowers. Ultimately, they are the substrate on which the seeds are created, allowing the continuity of the plant world by disbursing its offspring and expanding the area of its growth. The Pedicel connects the flower to its stem, while at the base of the flower is the Receptacle upon which the organs of the flower are arranged. When there are an abundance of tiny flowers crowding together on a receptacle, we call it a flower head (or pseudanthium).

Your winter boxes host two beloved flower heads: the cauliflower (as evident in its name in many languages) and broccoli (that resembled an arm or branch to the name givers, who granted them the less illustrious title). We eat them when the flower is closed, before it has developed and opened up, but if you allow the broccoli or cauliflower to continue growing, they will develop the very many small flowers grouped together in the head and a beautiful bouquet of Cruciferae flowers will grow from the center.

The next stage of the growth is fruit. To be honest, if we only ate vegetables in season, winter would not be the time to discuss vegetables that are fruit, as winter is slow and growing takes time and progresses slowly. Fruit – the highlight of the plant ­– arrives at the end of its growth. After the stems and leaves grew, a flower developed and fertilization occurred, and the seeds developed and matured, a juicy, nutritious material often develops around them wrapped in a peeling. Most of these vegetable delights are berries (moist and juicy flesh; containing more than one seed with a thin, flexible outer layer) and they grow in the summer: eggplant, pepper, squash and pumpkins, melons, watermelon, fakkus, zucchini and others. Which is why they do not come to visit during this time of the year (we said our final goodbye to the pumpkin this week). But two of them actually grow here year-round and enjoy a growth spurt in wintertime thanks to our growth houses: the cucumber and tomato, the royal couple of the Israeli vegetable salad (but now we know that it is in fact a fruit salad…).

Aside from the juicy, fruity vegetables, there is one very special family in our field whose offspring are also fruit, but of a different kind. The legume pods boast distinguished representatives in springtime, summer and autumn: green beans, black-eyed peas and edamame. But they are well-represented in wintertime as well with peas and fava beans. The green legume pods are a very unique vegetable-fruit because they lack juicy flesh surrounding the seeds, but sport instead an elongated pod in which the large seeds are laid out Indian-file.

The great variety of the wintery vegetable garden and your boxes is a stark reminder of nature’s wise diversity: the plant parts are versatile, as are the various stages of development, different strengths, varied colors, shapes and characteristics. The content of your boxes must always be different, varied and pluralistic in order to be plenty, to allow life and be sustainable.

May we learn more from nature in 2021: how to embrace difference, variety, and multiplicity, and how to grow along with them.

Wishing you a good week in which we will bid farewell to this strange and confusing year. Let’s hope for a new year that is just a little more boring….

Alon, Bat-Ami, Dror and the Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

(Quiz yourself! Which part of the plant is each vegetable in your box?)

Monday: Swiss chard/kale/mizuna, lettuce, daikon/baby radishesbroccoli/cauliflower, cucumbers, tomatoes, turnips/beets/kohlrabi, Jerusalem artichokes/peas/cabbage/fennel, coriander/parsley/dill, carrots, sweet potatoes.

Large box, in addition: Celeriac/celery, onions or a bundle of new onions, spinach/totsoi/arugula.

FRUIT BOXES: Avocado, clementinas, red or green apples/kiwi, pomelit/pomela/ oranges, bananas.

Wednesday: Swiss chard/kale/New Zealand spinach, lettuce, daikon/baby radishes/kohlrabibroccoli, cabbage/cauliflower, cucumbers, tomatoes, turnips/beets/fennel, coriander/parsley/dill, carrots, sweet potatoes/potatoes/a bundle of new onions .

Large box, in addition: Jerusalem artichokes/peas, Celeriac/celery, winter spinach/totsoi/mizuna/arugula.

FRUIT BOXES: Avocado, clementinas, red or green apples/kiwi, pomelit/pomela/oranges, bananas/lemons.

December 14th-16th 2020 – To see the light

…for a moment I could run,
Like a feather on the wing
of a bird in flight
And I was able to climb high
To see the light

Barak Feldman/Asaf Amdursky/Efrat Gosh

Last week we were able – just for a moment – to be like a feather on the wing of a bird and gaze over Chubeza’s fields from above! Eyal Fischer, one of our very loyal delivery people (responsible for bringing veggies to dozens of homes in Ramat Gan, Givatayim, Biqat Ono and Tel Aviv ) photographed Chubeza from on high.

Aside from working with us, Eyal is also a veteran photographer whose camera has captured photos for the press, architecture, advertisements, art and more. In all honesty, his first visit here several years before he joined the Chubeza team was as a photographer for a food magazine who came to do a feature on us. Last year, Eyal mastered the art of drone photography and now specializes in this field. Last week, it took our breath away when we saw how beautiful the fields look from above.

We’d like to share our excitement with you, so here it is: Chubeza from a Bird’s (and drone’s) Eye View. Thank you, Eyal, for this privilege to see things in a new light and from another angle.

 

Our fields – This is where it all begins:

A look to the east – from the growth houses to 3 sloping field plots and the Jerusalem Hills:

 

Northwest: working in the field. In the background: Kfar Bin Nun and the Tel Gezer Hills:

 

Southwest – the fields and growth houses. In the distance: Hamaginim Forest

The packing house north to south: bottom right – the office and workers’ living quarters (greenery-topped roofs), to their left a small clementine orchard, the packing house and surrounding plots.   

 

Packing house – north: this is where we pack your boxes on the delivery cars and send them on their way to you!

So, although we couldn’t host you in the field this year, thanks to Eyal we were able to send a stunning virtual embrace, in honor of Chanukah.

To contact Eyal, call 050-5278012.

May we have a bright Chanukah and lovely week,
Alon, Bat Ami, Dror and the entire Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Spinach/totsoi, lettuce/arugula/mizuna, slice of pumpkin/broccoli/lubia Thai yard-long beans, beets/fennel/kohlrabi, cucumbers, tomatoes, turnips/baby radishes/daikon, cabbage/cauliflower/Jerusalem artichokes, coriander/parsley/dill, carrots, sweet potatoes.    

Large box, in addition: Scallions, celeriac/celery, Swiss chard/kale.

FRUIT BOXES: Avocado, oranges/pomelit, bananas, clementinas, red apples/kiwi.

Wednesday: Lettuce, slice of pumpkin/Jerusalem artichokes/lubia Thai yard-long beans/snow peas, beets/kohlrabi, cucumbers, tomatoes, cabbage/broccoli/, coriander/parsley/dill, carrots, sweet potatoes, Swiss chard/kale. Small boxes only: baby radishes/daikon. A special gift for all: Arugula/mizuna/totsoi  

Large box, in addition: New Zealand or winter Spinach, fennel/turnips, scallions, celeriac/celery.

FRUIT BOXES: Avocado, oranges, bananas, clementinas, red apples/kiwi.