May 18th-20th 2020 – Here Comes the [brutally hot] Sun

Bukra fi Mishmish
Good news from Mipri Yadeha: “Absolute Apricot” leather is back! – and like all MY products, made with love from only Israeli fruit with no additives whatsoever (no added sugar, preservatives, coloring or even water). Just 100% natural goodness.
In the family of fruit, apricots stand out as having a particularly sudden and quick season. The expression in Arabic, “Bukra fi mishmish,” means figuratively, “Anything is possible,” just as one morning we awake to the seemingly impossible appearance of suddenly ripe apricots.
So, in the spirit of joyful surprises, miracles great and small, such as back to school, a renewal of health, peace among people , we wish all bukra fi mishmish, may we wake in the morning to a world of ________ and without ______ (fill in yourselves).

Chubeza boxes containing gifts of love

The story of our delivery cartons relayed in our last newsletter evoked more fun photos from our clients (mostly cute cats who find our boxes especially comfy), but perhaps the most moving message came from Hila, a childhood friend and a Chubeza member. Hila attached these photos with the following message:

So here’s yet another use of Chubeza boxes – Over the past two months I have been taking part in a food distribution initiative to the needy. And most of our deliveries are packed in Chubeza boxes 😊

Needless to say, we were all very touched by her message, and I asked for more details. Here’s what she wrote:

The project was spearheaded by three amazing women (Alma Beck, Danielle Kantor and Leah Tunic) who joined forces to collect food and raw materials from restaurants, cafes, offices, and more which would have been thrown out during the Corona lockdown. To our great joy, the responses were overwhelming. This endeavor quickly turned into a mobile center for the collection and distribution of food cartons, followed by other basic needs we learned of (furniture, refrigerators, baby equipment and food, and more). Various associations contacted us with details of needy individuals and families – from Holocaust survivors to prostitution survivors and asylum-seeking families. We are astounded by the number of volunteers who responded to the appeal and the many people they helped throughout the country. The portable logistics and distribution centers move from place to place, situating in banquet halls and clubs which donate their space and refrigerators for collection and distribution. It is truly amazing!  

Some of the needy require cooked food, so I joined the cooking group. We get together twice a week to cook, each time for a different family or solitary individual, while a corresponding group transports the products to wherever they are needed. In order to pack up the cooked food, I requested plastic boxes from a friend who owns a neighborhood café, and they fit to a T in Chubeza boxes.😊.

In addition to this all, they have been very successful in collecting contributions earmarked to purchase tons of produce directly from farmers, as well as organizing volunteers to help with the harvest in a number of places.

Here’s a link to the website for more information about the project and donation opportunities. This is a truly remarkable grassroots endeavor that spreads love and kindness. Any and all donations help.
https://www.cultureofsolidarity.com

You are more than welcome to spread the word and take part in this amazing project.

_________________________________________

Heatwave

Over the past few days, we have been walking around the field feeling as if we’re directly in front of the exhaust pipe of a fiery hot compressor. The surrounding hot air stands oppressively motionless, spews out hot gusts of air, or sizzles. It’s just really, really hot. The temperatures here are nearly 40 degrees Celsius and climbing!

We make sure to drink and drink and drink, wear a hat, cover ourselves to the greatest degree with long thin pants and shirtsleeves to protect from the blazing sun. And we try to stay in the shade as much as possible. (These days, walking into the refrigeration room is like entering a different world. The 4-degree tempreture is incredible). The most difficult challenge is surviving in the outdoors, especially when the scorching temperatures are accompanied by a Levanter (aka “solano” or simply an easterly wind that blows in the western Mediterranean Sea and southern France).

What about the vegetables? They are in fact in a very similar situation. We add considerable time and quantities to our irrigation, use shade nets to cover up the needy crops and check the vegetable beds daily to ensure they’re surviving. Most are dealing quite well. One of the advantages of growing vegetables in their season is that the summer vegetables are able to brave the very hot weather. This doesn’t mean that they are not struggling, but with the proper support (water, water, water and sometimes shade), they will overcome the hardships. To our delight, most of the planted beds are in fields within the Moshav that are more protected from the wind, while in adjacent fields where the dry winds are strong, we grow them in growth structures to give shelter.

Big-leaf plants have their own way of coping, one which can deter you if you don’t know them. On hot days, the cucurbits (specifically pumpkins and squash) droop their big leaves downward, looking miserable and wilted. But in fact, this mechanism allows them to decrease the surface area exposed directly to the sun, preventing evaporation and providing some dampness to the stem and roots where the plant loses less liquids. When the temperatures and radiation drop, the leaves perk up once again and fill out. If you catch them in the early hours of the day, you will meet them fresh and healthy.

On the other hand, there are plants that suffer greatly from the heat. You can’t always recognize this happening in the process, but only after some time passes (did we not mention how similar they are to human beings?). Peppers and tomatoes, for instance, may develop a sort of “post trauma” syndrome in the shape of a black spot at the base termed “Blossom End Rot.” On occasion, in times of distress, calcium does not regularly reach the young fruit on the plant, resulting in tissue collapse at the bottom and blackening:

Calcium is soluble and requires water in order to traverse within the plant transportation system, and the amount of calcium that finally reaches the fruit is less than that received by the leaves. Thus, a shortage of water may cause this problem, especially in plants bearing young fruit. We have many greenhouses which are just now beginning to yield, and we’re inspecting them closely in these hot days to make sure they are well-satiated.

But there is also a positive angle: The viruses and various fungi find it hard to survive in the great heat, especially when it is dry, which is why a period of hot and dry weather – if survived – may provide future benefits of more enthusiastic growth and fewer leaf diseases, fungi and viruses. (How I wish this will prove true for Corona as well…)

We try to take solace from the hope implanted in the word Chamsin, probably originating from the Coptic expression Shem el-Neseem, which can mean “a passing heat.”   We hope to survive these days with no extraordinary problems or malfunctions, and to reach the other side   heatwave to meet strengthened, untraumatized vegetables.

Wishing you all a fresh, good week. Drink up and keep out of the sun!

One last thing – we extend our very warm wishes and blessings to Oren, who married Niri in a beautiful, touching wedding two weeks ago. May you enjoy good and happy times of togetherness.   Mazal Tov!

And though we are still apart – Ramadan Kareem to Mohammed, Majdi and Ali, who are celebrating this month at home in the days of Corona. We miss them and look forward to their speedy return.

Shavua Tov,

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

__________________________________________

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

SUMMER FRUIT BOX NOTICE: With the arrival of summer fruits and the changing assortment in our boxes, the cost of summer fruits are generally higher. Thus, from now until autumn, delicious Large Summer Fruit Boxes will be available at a cost of 100 NIS, and small boxes at 70 NIS.

Monday: Zucchini, potatoes, carrots, beets, cucumbers, tomatoes/cherry tomatoes, pumpkin/butternut squash/acorn squash, New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard/kale, parsley, lettuce, coriander/dill.

Large box, in addition: Scallions/garlic, fakus, parsley root, cabbage.

FRUIT BOXES: Bananas, peaches, pears. Large box, in addition: Shesek (loquat)

Wednesday: Zucchini, potatoes, carrots, beets, cucumbers, tomatoes/cherry tomatoes, peppers/butternut squash/acorn squash, New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard/kale, coriander/parsley, lettuce, scallions/garlic.

Large box, in addition: Dill, fakus, parsley root/celery.

FRUIT BOXES: Bananas, peaches, pears/avocado. Large box, in addition: Shesek (loquat)/cherries.

March 30th – April 1st 2020 – Spring is here – despite it all…

Delivery schedule, Pre-Pesach thru Independence Day:

Pre-Pesach:
Monday, April 6th – Deliveries as usual
Wednesday deliveries move up to Tuesday, April 7th. Order system closes on Monday at 9:00 AM

Chol HaMoed Pesach: No deliveries.

Last Week of Pesach:
Monday deliveries will not take place
Wednesday deliveries move to Thursday, April 16th. Order system closes on Tuesday at 9:00 AM.

From April 19th – Deliveries as usual
(April 20th, April 22)

Week of Yom Ha’Atzmaut:
Monday, April 27th – Deliveries as usual
Wednesday deliveries will be moved to Thursday, April 30th. Order system closes on Tuesday at 9:00 AM.

________________________________________

Some messages:

During this very trying period, the seasons continue to change, the calendar wheel keeps on turning, and Pesach, the festival of freedom and of spring, is in the wings.

We are presently tackling an extraordinary workload, and have these requests to make of you:

  1. As of this writing, we have reached the limit of our field’s capacity, and we cannot accept any new clients. Kindly save your recommendations for your friends and family to join Chubeza till the return of calmer days.
  2. We beg you: Please make all changes to your regular order before the deadline. If you need our help, contact us by email (preferably), SMS or telephone. We are truly straining under the load.
  3. To reduce contact with our deliverymen, at this point we are no longer collecting empty cartons to recycle. We look forward to collecting them once again, when the time comes.
  4. From April we will be charging your credit cards weekly. If this creates a problem for you, let us know.

____________________________________

Quick! Order these wonderful Kosher for Pesach treats from our regular assortment of yummy products:

  • Honey Mibeit Abba (Tamir from the Golan) and from the Ein Harod apiary.
  • Olive Oil from the Tene Yarok farm in Rotem and from Ein Harod
  • Dates from Kibbutz Samar (Barhi, Dekel Nur or Zahidi) and Medjool from Kibbutz Neot Smadar
  • Tahi-Na* unique tahini from Kibbutz Netiv HaLamedHe
  • Pure Medjool (date) honey from Kibbutz Neot Smadar
  • Gluten-free crackers from Lev HaTeva (made of potatoes, hummus, rice* and corn*)
  • Gluten-free cookies from Danny and Galit
  • Apple and Pear Juice and Cider, apple vinegar and jams from HaMatsesa
  • Chocolates, desserts and sprouted nut spreads, crackers* and Granola’s* from Shorshei Zion

*contain kitniyot

_____________________________________________________

קהילה קיבוצית במיטבה - ציור של גליה רון

Illustration by Galia Ron

This week we’re happy to share a picture of the joyful, festive springtime.

Reminding us that even though this year, as spring bursts into the air while we’re cooped up at home, far from friends and family, it’s only a temporary situation. Time is still flowing, bringing change in its wake.

As the vivid colors and togetherness shine from this picture, may you feel the growth and good changes during this time as well!

Wishing everyone good, healthy and resilient days, now and in times to come.

Wishing you a Chag Sameach and a happy month of Nisan,

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

_____________________________________________

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Slice of pumpkin/onions, potatoes, carrots, green fava beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, celeriac/parsley root, Swiss chard/kale/chubeza (mallow) greens, parsley/ coriander, lettuce, leeks/green garlic.

Large box, in addition: Cauliflower/cabbage, snow peas/red bell peppers, beets/fennel.

FRUIT BOXES: Bananas, yellow apples, oranges, pomelit/red grapefruit. 

Wednesday: Slice of pumpkin/onions/zucchinni, potatoes, carrots, green fava beans/snow peas, cucumbers, tomatoes, celeriac, Swiss chard/kale/chubeza (mallow) greens, parsley/coriander/dill, lettuce, green garlic.

Large box, in addition: Cauliflower/cabbage, leeks/parsley root, beets/fennel.

FRUIT BOXES: Bananas, yellow or red apples, oranges, red grapefruit.

May 20th-22nd 2019 – Let it bee zzzzz

New from the Ein Harod fields – Organic Teff Flour (in 1kg or 500gr)

 For some years now, we’ve joined forces with the Ein Harod (meuchad) fields – one of the pioneer and very successful organic fields in the country. Kibbutz Ein Harod is located in the Jezreel Valley, where for over 98 years (!) they have been cultivating the very fertile soil of the region. For almost two decades, a large part of the field has been organic, growing wheat, hummus, teff and more, in addition to almond and olive orchards. Alongside the flourishing, blooming fields, the classic Ein Harod apiary has been cultivating bees for the past 95 years, producing pure honey, unheated, with no added sugar.

Order today from the wonderful array of Ein Harod field and apiary products, including organic olive oil, organic hummus, natural honey, organic teff seeds, and finally the new kid in town – organic teff flour! (The almond crop is finished for this season, before making its return debut in the fall.)

I highly recommend this gentle, tasty and healthy greeting from the beautiful Yizrael Valley.

___________________________________________

And it’s back!  The Seventh Chalk Art Festival, today, Wednesday, May 22, from 10:00am-6:00pm

A full day of art, games, stories and everything that involves chalk. A day of wondrous meets with street artists in music and art; a day of mutual adult/children drawing – regardless of your level of artistic talents.

A day of discovery, learning, cooperation, initiation, creativity, encouragement, self-acceptance and more. Come soon!

______________________________________

The Hum of the Bees

Today Michael came by, the Bumblebee man from Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, and together we distributed beehives throughout the tunnels and our tomato hothouses.  So I’m taking the opportunity now to fill you in on the behind-the-scenes pollination we do in our growth houses with the assistance of bumblebees – in perfect timing for our new growth houses and the arrival of spring (hoping the heatwaves pass…).

When we grow a plant in the open field, we allow nature to take things into its own hands. Mainly this involves maintaining a balance between the destructive and the beneficial insects (who devour the bad guys). In addition, pollinating and fertilizing the plants – completing the process from flower to fruit, is carried out naturally and simply by wind or the many insects flying around humming in the open spaces of our vegetable beds. Simple, right? Even perfect!

However…. sometimes the insect damages are so severe that nature can no longer cope. The balance is drastically disrupted almost to the point of no return in the open field. Take the tomato, for instance. In the open field it is attacked by various viruses (Tomato yellow leaf curl virus, for one) spread by the silverleaf whitefly and the California thrip. Also, the Tuta Absoluta moth (such a cute name for such an annoying pest) can really injure the tomato, not to mention the threats of various Acaris. In short, we have lots of tomato-loving partners, which is why after many years of growing them in the open field, we decided to move them to a closed space, covered by a dense mesh net to protect the vulnerable tomatoes from their enemies.

But in order for the nice tomato flower to turn into the reddish fruit we so love, pollinating is required – i.e., transferring pollen from the stamen to its female reproduction parts (its “ovaries”). The tomato flower loves the number six: it has six yellow petals and six stamens producing the “stamen poll” surrounding the style which usually hides within it (though sometimes the style is taller than the cone and peers out from inside) at the edge of the stamens there are small openings to set free the tiny pollen seeds.

The tomato flower belongs to a small group (approximately 8% of flowering plants) that are pollinated by “buzz pollination” in which the tiny dry pollen grains roll out of the cone stamen openings as a result of the flower being shaken (by wind or insects). Every shake distributes a small part of the pollen – similar to shaking salt over a salad. The pollen pours into the stamen cone and lands on the stigma situated at the top of style. The flower is usually open for three days and the pollen begins venturing out approximately 24 hours after opening up, thus the flower has a two-day window of opportunity to “find its one and only buzz,” be fertilized and turn into fruit.

And this is where the bumblebee enters the picture. Israel is home to three bee family (Apidae) members. They reside in the cool mountains up north, in the Hermon, Galilee and Carmel. The most common species in Israel, the buff-tailed bumblebee, is widely prevalent throughout Europe and Asia and probably arrived here from Lebanon. The head of the buff-tailed bumblebee is relatively small and its body is covered in black hair and two brown-yellow strips. The back of its belly is covered with white hair. This is the main specie, domesticated worldwide which since the 90’s has been used as an “agricultural assistant” pollinating plants that grow in closed spaces. Take a peek at the charming lady:

Like their cousin the honeybee, buff-tailed bumblebees are social creatures. As such, they live in a colony governed by a very strict work distribution among the bees who are in charge of reproduction – the males and queens – and the plebes – the worker bees. However, in contrast to the honeybees, they are rather primitive: their colonies – the social aspect of their lives – only exist throughout springtime and summer when flowers bloom. In wintertime only the queens exist, and they are basically inactive, spending their winter slumbering in hidden places. The queen – who was coupled and fertilized before falling asleep – awakens in springtime and begins collecting nectar and pollens, searching for a suitable place to set up her nest. She then lays eggs, collects food, heats and feeds the bee larvae that hatched until they pupate, and then resumes her egg-laying. Life in the colony begins when the first worker bees hatch from the pupae. The workers go out to collect food and take care of the newborns, allowing the queen to get some rest and continue to lay eggs. The colony now grows rapidly – capable of hosting hundreds of bees, most of which will be workers who set out to graze the flowers, collect food and consequently pollinate them. At the end of summer or towards autumn, the final bee baby boom arrives, this time born of the reproducing species (queens and males). The remaining workers die together with the old queen, while the young queens mate and begin hoarding a mass of fat in preparation for winter slumber. Colony life thus reaches its termination.

At the end of the 1980’s, Europe achieved full domestication of the bumblebees, allowing them to grow under artificial conditions throughout the year, not only in spring and summer. This development was the key to using bumblebees for agricultural pollination in growth centers, and within four years they replaced manual pollination in tomato houses throughout the entire Western world.

When a worker bumblebee sets out to graze the fields and meets a tomato flower, it is able to shake it using its natural expertise – buzz pollination (unlike its cousin the honeybee which cannot shake). She is quite an efficient worker: a large amount of pollen is caught by her hair, and her rapid movement amongst the plants allows for a great deal of pollination. She is also active in cold temperatures and cloudy, rainy climates (remember – she originated in Europe), and does not suffer from claustrophobia: closed places in hothouses and tunnels do not bother her, nor do filtering sheets spread above mar her sense of direction. Take a look at this beautiful demonstration of the bumblebee doing her thing.

When we introduce a new beehive to our growth house, we do so by hanging a plastic box on the trellising (to prevent ants), and place the new hive within it. In the female-dominated hive, there is one queen, pupae, newborn larvae and eggs. In addition, dozens of worker bumblebees fly around buzzing loudly, waiting for us to open the small opening in the hive and allow them to exit and begin skipping and hopping amongst the flowers. In warm springtime or summer, we make sure to hang the hive as low as possible and among the rows of plants (which shade it) and place insulating styrofoam on its roof to ease the burden of heat for our European friends. The tomato flowers do not produce nectar which the bees exist on, thus the hives come fully-accessorized with a nectar substitute (usually sugar water) in a quantity set to last for the entire season of pollinating activity. This is how it looks from within.

Amazing and beautiful, don’t you think?

We will part with a fervent thank you to the very diligent bumblebees, in appreciation of their ceaseless movement, unrelenting work, persistence and the calming hum always in the background.

Wishing you a buzzing week, swarming with activity, growth, budding, pollination and community,

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

_____________________________________________________

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Zucchini, beets, lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes, onions/garlic, cabbage, kale/New Zealand spinach/ Swiss chard, coriander/dill/ parsley

Large box, in addition:  Fakus /cherry tomatoes, leeks, parsley root

FRUIT BOXES: Apples, bananas, nectarines, melon

Wednesday: Zucchini, beets, lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes, onions/garlic, kale/New Zealand spinach/ Swiss chard, coriander/dill/ parsley, cherry tomatoes.

Large box, in addition:  Fakus/butternut squash, cabbage, leeks/parsley root

FRUIT BOXES: Apples, bananas, peaches, melon.

May 13th-15th 2019 – Spring here is fleetingly brief

Machol HaKramim’s (The Dance of the Vineyards) famed grape juice is back! After a long break, we have replenished this  natural grape juice delight, squeezed from red and green grapes from the vineyards of the Zichron Yaakov region. Order today via our order system!

____________________________________

An instant occurs midst Adar and Nissan
When joy in abundance will cling
Exploding with life, drunk with fragrance
Oh, the healing that nature can bring.
It’s thrilled and alight, flinging sparks all about
But soon wilts yellow with grief
As summer sets flame in its sidelines, impatient –
Spring here is fleetingly brief

-David Grossman

Thanks to the rainy winter, this year’s spring stayed just a tad longer. Only last week we were enjoying cooler days, and outdoors we still catch glimpses of beautiful blossoms in their purple, blue, orange, pink, red, yellow, and white array. The plants are still slurping rainwater stored deep in the earth, but are hastening to do some last-minute blossoming so as to not miss out on the slightest window of opportunity to create seeds for next year. However… this week the weather has already begun its ascent to higher temperatures, plunging us into very, very hot days.

The late cool weather prompted us to plant one last round of cabbage and cauliflower which you have been receiving over the past few weeks (usually cauliflower and broccoli harvests end by April, maximum). However, this season the brassicaes resemble Europeans tourists in the Middle-East over the summer: somewhat stunned and out of their natural season. The vegetables are braving the heat, especially because they know this is the end, and next time we meet will be in the coolness of autumn. But they are smaller and sometimes even take on a purpulish hue. Do give them some respect for surviving, and use this opportunity to bid your farewells till the end of fall…

Our field is quickly becoming summery – the carrots, fennel, kohlrabi, celeriac, the radish family and turnips, peas and fava beans have completed their winter stay in the field, taking a break till next fall or winter. The last beds of leaf celery, parsley roots and beets are hanging in there, but by the end of the month we will say goodbye to them too. In the open field, their places are being taken by New Zealand spinach – the summer-durable green – squash and zucchini in a range of forms and colors, pumpkins of various varieties, melons, watermelons, fakkus, green beans, okra and black-eyed peas, eggplant, peppers, cherry tomatoes, corn, and spring potatoes. And this very week we planted sweet potatoes!

In our growth houses (where now that summer’s arrived we removed the plastic sheet coverings, replacing them with thin-mesh netting topped by shade nets), we planted tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers. These crops   need special protection from threatening outdoor pests.  In the end, these varmints manage to permeate the growth houses as well, which is why over the past few years we have been growing these crops primarily in net houses where they are protected from the outdoor world. We grow peppers there in addition to growing them in the field, and among the tomatoes – the more  durable cherry tomatoes receive their own space in the open field, while their older and more sensitive sisters – the bigger tomatoes – are planted in the safety of the growth houses.

 

Last week we finished constructing two new growth houses at the edge of the field, serving two roles: accommodations for veggies and a ‘fence’ dividing our field and the neighboring one. Last year, the Ministry of Agriculture changed its regulations with new rules renouncing mutual agreements amongst farmers, and thus – after 15 years of cooperating with our neighbor farmer, both respecting our written agreement regarding rules of fertilization in the vicinity of our farm (us by ‘giving up’ some beds at the edges in order to create a distance from the spraying, and he by making sure to spray low on windless days and far from us). The new rules demand erecting fences between fields, separating them completely from each other. So welcome, mabruk, and may you grow well.

Our springtime field and in the distance – to the right – our new growth houses.

After many months of an unused irrigation system that stared raptly at the bountiful rain washing the plants and penetrating the earth to quench its thirst, we have resumed the irrigation system’s operation. Thus, the plants now receive their necessary doses of water   (increasing as the temperatures rise) from the tiny drips spread along the pipes. In order to decrease the evaporation of this crucial water, some of the beds are covered in dark plastic sheets (produced from corn starch, biodegrading at the end of the season) which keeps them moist and prevents an ‘escape’ of the water into air. We will cover some of the more sensitive crops such as herbs and greens with shade nets to ease the oppressive heat lurking on the sidelines and planning its arrival.

Eggplants planted over a cornstarch-based earth cover

The month of Ramadan began last week, corresponding with the beginning of Iyar, and Mohammad, Majdi and Ali now fast throughout the day during all the daylight hours. Though their days in the field are shorter and they attempt to take care of themselves by working in the packing house and avoiding the scorching sun, the burden of the fast on farmers is still not a light one. We hope – together with them – that the transition to summer will be mild – at least till the fast reaches its end. And we take this opportunity to thank the rest of our workers – most of them from Thailand – who are taking extra tasks upon themselves over this month.

Wishing you all a quiet week and a gradual acclimation to the heat. Ramadan Kareem to all who are fasting.

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

___________________________________________________

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Zucchini, carrots, lettuce, beets, cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes, leeks/onions, celery, kale/New Zealand spinach, coriander/dill/ parsley

Large box, in addition:  Cabbage/cauliflower, Swiss chard, garlic/ parsley root.

FRUIT BOXES: Bananas, apples, shesek (loquats), nectarines.

Wednesday: Zucchini, carrots/beets, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes, leeks/onions, celery/parsley root, Swiss chard/New Zealand spinach, coriander/dill/parsley, melon/cherry tomatoes.

Large box, in addition:  Cabbage/cauliflower, kale, garlic.

FRUIT BOXES: Bananas, apples, shesek (loquats), nectarines/peaches.

April 15th-17th 2019 – There is no time like Spring

No deliveries on Chol Hamoed, so you will not be receiving your vegetables on Monday, April 22 and Wednesday, April 24. But… if the vegetables don’t come to you, you can come to them!

On Wednesday, April 24, don’t miss our traditional Pesach Open Day in the field between 2pm-6pm. Stay tuned for more details, coming soon.

_______________________________

There is no time like Spring,
Like Spring that passes by;
There is no life like Spring-life born to die, –
Piercing the sod,
Clothing the uncouth clod,
Hatched in the nest,
Fledged on the windy bough,
Strong on the wing:
There is no time like Spring that passes by,
Now newly born, and now
Hastening to die.

 – Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

There are years when the arrival of springtime is not a cause for celebration. When it follows a dry winter and we realize that this is it – the rainy season is over – we welcome spring with apprehension. Sadly, I’ve faced this haunting experience more than once in my life as a farmer: disappointment with the lack of precipitation in the previous winter and an acceptance of the spring season with a hopeful-but-heavy-heart.

But this year we’re greeting spring with sheer joy. All winter long we smiled and rejoiced with each additional dose of timely rain – in just the right measure and intervals – and alongside the clumps of earth in the field, we enjoyed a satiating and incredible winter. Thus, by springtime we may have even had enough of it. We’re fully ready for the dry season – body, heart and soul. Yes, we can gratefully bid winter farewell, and mean it when we say, Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day…

So now it’s official – spring made its grand entrance three weeks ago, and the weather decided to turn upside down and pull some spring pranks just to herald the arrival of the season. Astronomically speaking, spring begins on the day of the vernal equinox, where the length of day equals 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 romance, providing perfect weather for lovers. Or does it? Actually, the Israeli spring is not such a pleasant, temperate interlude at all.  When the European immigrants arrived here, however, they couldn’t face parting with the European season of rejuvenation and blossoming, so they simply inserted it into the Israeli calendar. But here, spring is the season of topsy-turvy weather—pleasant days which morph into rainy ones followed by a hazy heat wave, just like we’re seeing now. And indeed, regardless of the weather pattern, we know that “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 occurs when the rains have diminished, the sun is shining and the temperatures are on the 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.

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.”

Shepherds also celebrated at Pesach. A wet winter of rich pastures led to a season of birth for lambs and goats and an abundance of milk, labeneh, cheese and butter. Can you think of a better reason to hold a celebratory feast thanking the Almighty for having endured the winter, and to pray that the entire herd grazes safely and peacefully? To this day, Bedouin shepherds dedicate the first butter of the season to Moch’an, the patriarch of nomadic shepherds. Once milking season arrives, they use a leather pouch to collect the butter made from milk produced during the first three days. On the third day, they prepare a great feast in honor of Moch’an, highlighted by a delicious taste of their brand-new butter.

On the scene at the Izza Pziza goat pen, Moshav Tal Shachar

  

During this period, beekeepers rev up for their busy season of extracting the honey from the nectar gathered during the flowering from winter till now. We, too, eagerly await this season of honey gathering leading up to the heavenly final product – sweet, natural honey from the apiaries at Ein Harod and the Golan Heights.

In nature, breeding occurs during springtime, as one swarm gives life to another. During swarm preparation, the bee scouts set out in search of a nearby location for the swarm to colonize and embark on their new lives. At this stage, they are very exposed and vulnerable. Unfortunately, this time of year coincides with Pesach cleaning which leads us to places that are usually less-than-accessible. And thus, we’ll be merrily cleaning away when suddenly we’re face to face with a young bee swarm on the wall, in a hidden corner of the garden or in the window box. And no, not everyone is happy to coexist with bees, which is why the Magen Dvorim Adom organization was established. This volunteer bee rescue squad arrives at the site to skillfully transfer the swarm to a safe place, allowing the bees to survive and continue to play their crucial role in global existence.  Learn more about the organization here (Hebrew).

Pesach, the festival of spring, ushers in the parade of agricultural holidays in Eretz Yisrael, as Nissan opens the Hebrew calendar. During this festival, farmers are happily fortified with strength that’s been restored through many hours of sleep accumulated over the slow winter season (as their memories dimmed of last summer’s scorching heat…).

After sowing in tears, the barley has ripened, heralding the time to reap in joy. At the close of the first Pesach holiday, a celebration was held to mark the barley harvest season, by the ceremonial first binding of the sheaves. 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.”

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! See you at the Open Day!

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

________________________________________

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S HOLIDAY BOXES?

Monday: Beets/zucchini, carrots, lettuce, potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, cauliflower/cabbage, kale/Swiss chard, parsley root/celeriac, fresh fava beans, parsley/coriander/dill.

Large box, in addition:  Baby radishes/turnips, fennel/kohlrabi, green garlic/leeks.

FRUIT BOXES: Clementinot, oranges, bananas, apples.

Wednesday: Beets/zucchini, carrots, lettuce, potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, cauliflower/cabbage, kale/Swiss chard, parsley root/celeriac, fennel/kohlrabi, parsley/coriander/dill.

Large box, in addition:  Baby radishes/turnips, fresh fava beans ,green garlic/leeks.

FRUIT BOXES: Clementinot, oranges, bananas, apples.