April 30th-May 2nd 2018 – Unseasonal Rain

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

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

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

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

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April is the Cruelest Month

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

From The Waste Land/ T.S. Eliot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

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

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

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

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

Aley Chubeza #231 January 12th-14th 2015

Goodness gracious, great balls of ice!

So in the end… after all the preparations, expectations, concern and considerations, last week’s Great Storm came and went. We prepared our Wednesday boxes on Tuesday night, and our faithful delivery team departed the farm early Wednesday morning in a diligent attempt to beat the storm, or at least meet only its opening act. In the Tel Aviv area, they delivered the Chubeza boxes under heavy rains. In Jerusalem they ended their rounds in a white city…

On behalf of all of us, I send my heartfelt thanks to our wonderful farm team that made every effort to expedite the harvest, packing and loading to get the deliveries on the road, and of course, to our brave and loyal delivery team in the plains – Amit, Shlomi, Oren and Alon, and in Jerusalem – Yochai and Dror. All of these fine people did their utmost to have your vegetables ready for the stews and storm cooking. We thank them so much!!! And thanks to all of you who took care of them, offered hot soup or shelter from the storm. Your concern is heartwarming.

Hail – what a concept! Hard, tough balls of ice pounding mercilessly upon our vegetables, striking and injuring them. On Wednesday, two heavy barrages of hail hit our field. Most victimized were, of course, the softer parts of the plants that are exposed to the cold – the leaves and fruits. Fortunately the roots are safely concealed in the basement, under the earth, and therefore spared the blow. We protect the leafy vegetables with an “Agril” covering that we spread over the beds to shield the plants. Indeed, most of our leafy veggies were safe under the cover: lettuce, spinach and other greens. The grand greens which we grow in the net house were also well swathed: Swiss chard, spinach and “baby” salad greens.

But we weren’t able to protect them all. The strong winds that preceded the storm made covering the entire field virtually impossible, and we also don’t cover every crop. So the hail did indeed injure some of the vegetables. In these cases, we selectively harvest the vegetables, leaving the very injured leaves in the field, and then carefully sorting out the harvested produce. We peel the external leaves and chop off the edges of damaged stems. Still, I presume you will be able to identify the hail damage in your boxes over the next few weeks: it looks like white dots and lines on the celery leaves, cabbage, leeks and green garlic. The snow peas, too, are slightly dotted in white.

Some of the damage will only be evident later – kale and Swiss chard beds that were not covered and grow outside the hothouse were indeed harmed. The strong kale managed to sidestep the greater injuries, while the Swiss chard was more vulnerable. We will try to methodically “repair” the damages by removing the injured leaves and allowing the vegetables to recover and grow new leaves. Young crops were also hurt: carrot greens and young beets and leeks, and even the fava bean that had already grown tall is now bent over. From past experience we know the young plants usually recover, but it takes time for them to get over the shock, grow new leaves and stand tall again, resulting in a delay in ripening.

We attempt to receive these events with acceptance and understanding, realizing that it may be nice to have your whole season mapped out until “A mentch tracht, un Gott lacht” (Man plans, and God laughs), as they say in these parts. And in the end, there is also the half-full part of our garden-cup: many vegetables that came out of this storm unscathed will be harvested this week in a glorious winter abundance.

We wish you and our vegetables, of course, a continued good week. May we all thaw in good time with the warmer days to come.

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

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Pumpkin/carrots, scallions/leeks, spinach/Swiss chard/kale, tomatoes, cauliflower/potatoes, celery/celeriac, bell peppers/cucumbers, cabbage, lettuce, beets/fennel. Small boxes only: garden peas/Jerusalem artichoke

Large box, in addition: Arugula/“baby” mixed greens, broccoli, coriander/parsley, daikon/radishes

Unfortunately, this week  there’s a shortage in cucumbers. We hope that this is a temporary matter, caused by the storm last week. As a replacement we bought other summertime hot house veggies that usually we do not have in the boxes at this season – peppers or zucchini, we hope you’ll enjoy them

Wednesday: pumpkin/carrots, leek, spinach, tomatoes, red or green cabbage, zucchini/peppers, broccoli, lettuce, beets/fennel/turnip, small boxes only: snow peas/Jerusalem artichoke, celery

Large box, in addition: “baby” mixed greens/kale, daikon/radishes, celeriac/parsley root, green garlic, potatoes

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, garbanzo beans, 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 #181, December 16th-18th 2013

Whoa! What just happened?

We are literally covered in mud. Since last Wednesday we have had over 200 mm of water and ice. The fields are drenched. So far, they have withstood the heavy-duty precipitation quite well. The water is being absorbed well, and we haven’t yet encountered any erosion or flooding in the fields, which is a cause for celebration.

Last Thursday evening’s heavy hail lashed away at our vegetables. During a hail storm on the farm, the greatest victims are the leaves. You’ll see the proof for yourselves in the greens, where the hail struck exactly the parts we consume. The frost that settled on the Ayalon Valley Saturday night then added pain to the hail injury. When we examined our plots on Sunday, we decided to give up on this week’s harvest of lettuce, whose gentle, fragile leaves had been torn by the hail and endured additional trauma in the freezing cold. We did decide to harvest the spinach, Swiss chard, kale and arugula, whose leaves bear the marks of valiant hail injuries, but are still good to eat when chopped in a salad, or cooked, of course.

The best way to protect the leafy vegetables from hail and relatively mild cold is by covering them with a very thin material which creates a protective layer from the hail and insulates them from the cold. However, last week’s heavy rains prevented us from covering all of the beds, and we only got around to finishing up that work Monday (and there are still miles to go before we sleep). The next few nights will continue to be very cold, and this week’s forecast is for very clear skies, meaning no clouds to protect us at night from this freezing cold weather. However, during the daytime hours, the sun manages to thaw the ice and warm up our wee plants, reviving them and allowing their life forces the opportunity to strengthen and breathe life back into the plant. We hope they get through these days peacefully and with as little damage possible.

The sweet potato leaves were completely destroyed by the cold. Fortunately, they are not part of the Chubeza menu, and judging by today’s harvest, it looks like the orange roots remained unscathed under the protection of Mother Earth. When the nights are so cold yet short and the sun warms the earth over the morning, the earth itself does not freeze and is able to act as an insulation layer for the sweet potatoes, who are not fond of cold weather at all. They prefer a temperature of 10 degrees at least, which is why it is best that during this season they are left inside the earth, and only gradually pulled out, on demand. The temperature falls below 10 at night, but remains warmer underground.

The potato leaves, too, were harmed. At this point, the plants have already developed branched roots, but have not yet begun growing the potatoes. We need to give them time to see how they get over the trauma by using their roots, which are also protected under the earth, and to make sure new leaves are growing. They will need to perform the crucial photosynthesis and act as the renewed engine of the plant. We hope for the best!

This week we request you receive your veggies with love and honor, and provide a warm home for them. Remember that like us, they too have endured a raging storm and are weather-traumatized. Just like some of us were disconnected from electricity gas or water, or flooded, they too had one very difficult week. Welcome them warmly, and join us in being grateful for their survival.

We would like to thank those of you who expressed concern for us and the veggies, and sent words of encouragement and love. You warmed our hearts!

May we have a quiet, good week, one of recuperation and rehabilitation!

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

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: parsley/dill, sweet potatoes, fennel/kohlrabi/beets, tomatoes, Swiss chard/kale, broccoli/helda (flat) green beans, leeks/scallions, cucumbers/red bell peppers, arugula/spinach, cabbage/cauliflower. Small boxes only: daikon/ turnips/radishes

In the large box, in addition: Carrots, celery, Jerusalem artichoke, radishes/ coriander

Wednesday: spinach, arugula/kale, cucumbers/pepers, cauliflower/cabbage, cilantro/dill, sweet potatoes, carrots/broccoli, fennel/kohlrabi/beets, radish/daikon/turnip, leeks/green onions, tomatoes

In the large box, in addition: Jerusalem artichoke/pumpkin, celery, parsley

And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers: flour, sprouts, fruits, honey, dates, almonds, crackers, probiotic foods, dried fruits and leathers, olive oil and bakery products 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!

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Recipes for storm survivers veggies:

Fennel soup (thank you, Howard!)

Indian Spinach Dip (thank you, Inbar!)

Spinach and pasta

White bean and kale soup