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.

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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

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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.

February 25th-27th 2019 – Ups and Downs

Purim is around the corner, and we are getting into the spirit.
This year, too, Melissa of Mipri Yadeha is offering a sweet, ingenious treat for Mishloach Manot – Book-of-Esther-like scrolls made of natural, delectable fruit leather, free of additives. The beautifully packaged scrolls come in a range of fun flavors.
Purim’s coming! Add them today to your order via our order system, at only 10 NIS per scroll!
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After a break that left us craving them all the more, Orli and Shachar’s excellent honey candies are back! And special they are: natural old- fashioned honey candy, handmade from pure honey in such mouthwatering flavors as natural, ginger and coffee.
Order now via our order system!

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Weathering the Seesaw

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been riding the weather seesaw, as charted by this diagram. We feel it in our bones and joints: the fierce winter cold takes occasional breaks, teasing us with blue skies and sunshine so warming that we fling off our coats. And then the frigid weather swoops right back and we bundle up yet again.…

The month of Adar contains this concept in its very name, similar to the Acadian addaru meaning “darkness” of rainy days in which clouds cover the sun, and to the word U’dar in Ugarit connoting daily “courage” when battling the weather. In Babylonian Aramaic, Idar means “granary,” marking the fact that in this period following bountiful downpours and some sunny days, the waves of grain begin filling up and the harvest waits in the wings. The time has come to begin cleaning and readying the granary in preparation for the spring harvest. That’s the month of Adar for you – one day it’s dark, but then its spring-like, and upon this rollercoaster we just have to grin and bear it.

Chubeza’s field is now in-between, containing crops of both seasons: winter yields attempt to capture every warm sunray and grow after weathering the cold and hail and rainfall that sometimes flood the plots. The brassicaceae family is present in full array: the broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, kale and kohlrabi are thriving. Their neighbors the Umbellifers – fennel, celery, coriander and dill – are defrosting from the freezing winter as their sister, the hearty parsley, manages to grow even in the bitter cold. The root contingent – carrots, beets, radishes and turnips, onions, leeks, potatoes, celery and parsley roots – snuggle underground where it’s less chilly, as they grow plumper or longer. The tall peas and fava beans are lifting their heads heavenward, embracing every ray of sunshine. In the nursery, the tomato is getting a nice blush after a stretch where she tried to do the impossible and redden while the storms raged outdoors.

Meanwhile, in the adjacent beds, the first of the spring veggies, the gourds– zucchini, melons and squash, and the cucumbers in their nursery – have just been planted. We begin planting anew in February, after a few months’ break during the colder season, which is our very own way to begin the transition from winter to spring. Though it may still be fairly distant, it’s just like the almond trees blooming first, reminding us that even in the wintertime we can dare to look ahead to blossoming, ripening, and yummy spring and summer fruit. As soon as we plant the first gourds at the end of wintertime, we can almost taste the sweetness of the melon which will only be harvested for you in a few months, under a full warm sun.

As of yet, it is still too cold for the gourds outdoors, which is why after we seed and plant, we stretch plastic sheets over low arcs to cover their beds by creating long, low tunnels where the temperature is slightly warmer than outside. When the weather warms up a bit, we will open a few “breathing windows” for them, and eventually remove the sheet. The field is not the only one suffering from this instability. All around us, nature is coming alive, flowers are fanning out their vivid dresses, dazzling multitudes of lovesick insects with their tantalizing color and the potential of sweetness. (Thank you, Avraham, who works in the field along with us, for these wonderful photos!)

  

Who said something about “snails”?

Our lettuce crop is smack in the middle of the Adar seesaw – straddling wet and dry, cold and warm. The season’s moist weather encouraged downy mildew to find an embracing home in our lettuce – as visible in the winter lettuce’s yellowish-tinged leaf tips. The recent warmer weather makes it difficult for this naughty fungus-like organism to survive, while the lettuce does better and better. Thus, we conduct a gentle negotiation with the forces of nature to make the fungi wither by attempting to cover the lettuce in the great cold weather or before a hailstorm to protect it from injury, and then hurry to uncover the lettuce as soon as it grows a little or on dry days.

But this year, as the season warms up, our brave lettuce is facing yet another challenge – the beds planted on the edges of the field have been visited by thousands of tiny snails who wandered over from the abandoned olive orchard next door where they were wintering, wide awake and starved for our lettuce. Some of them even accompanied the lettuce straight to your boxes and homes. Surprise!  We will have to relinquish those lettuce beds to the snails, mostly because there are new beds ready to be harvested (they just loved the warm weather and grew fast!), as yet unvisited by hungry snail critters.  We will happily place them nice, healthy and very whole in your boxes.

Enjoy the many contradictions of the month of Adar: the darkness of the upcoming storms, the courage and encouragement and preparation for spring. Shavua Tov!

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

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Snow peas or garden peas, fresh onions, cabbage/ broccoli, celeriac/celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, parsley/coriander/dill, kale/chubeza (mallow)greens/broccoli greens. Small boxes only: fresh fava beans

Large box, in addition: Potatoes, parsley root/leeks, fennel/beets, kohlrabi/bell peppers.

FRUIT BOXES:  Avocados, bananas, blood oranges, strawberries.

Wednesday: Snow peas or garden peas, fresh onions, cabbage/ broccoli, potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, parsley/coriander/dill, kale/chubeza (mallow)greens/broccoli greens. Small boxes only: fresh fava beans

Large box, in addition: Celery, parsley root/leeks, fennel/kohlrabi, beets/bell peppers.

FRUIT BOXES:  Avocados, bananas, blood oranges, strawberries.

Spring Changes

Due to logistic challenges in the Izza Pziza dairy, beginning next week, orders for their goat milk products will close earlier than regular orders (for Wednesday deliveries.) Henceforth, orders for goat milk products may be placed until Sunday, 10:00 pm. After this time, no changes or cancellation to your Izza Pziza order can be made.

 If you wish to order milk products on a permanent basis, we suggest adding them to your fixed order. As such, you will not be limited by the change in closing time.

Check out the price list for additional products (milk products included).

Thanks for your cooperation!

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Lines Written in Early Spring

Every spring is a season of weather craziness, but thus this year the extremes seem more dramatic than ever, with heavy showers and scorching heatwaves sometimes within a only few hours of each other. Amidst the turmoil, our field attempts to maintain balance and our vegetables work hard to survive, grow and bloom. Several days before Shavuot, with a heavy heatwave on the way, Alon and I wondered what to do with the young plants scheduled to arrive the very next day. Should we plant them and expect them to make a first acclimation to the soil just before the extremely hot and very dry days, or rather let them sit in the nursery trays they came in, a familiar setting, and plant them only after the holiday as temperatures drop?

We went with the former, thinking that in the planting trays, with only a tiny square of soil, the plants are more inclined to dry up than in the field where the automatic irrigation wets a large area and a shaded tunnel offers protection from the dry winds. So we saddled ourselves with hope, and added a second shade net over the growth tunnel for extra safety as we planted the tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, melons and spinach. Then we embarked upon our holiday celebration.

Friday’s winds were dry and mighty, and the sun beat down on the field Friday, Saturday and Sunday. And yet, we returned on Monday to find strong little plants, well acclimated and braving a fresh green smile, lined up in their beds. However, unexpectedly (though in retrospect it makes sense), those who suffered and became singed over the holiday were the mature plants in the field: the veteran tomatoes, climbing in the growth tunnels, and the first corn beds which were already blooming, on their way to pollination. The tallest of the gang were the ones to get hit first from the powerful heat and dry winds. The corn plants actually boasted a scorched leaf right on top, beside the blossom, and growth crowns on the tip of the erect tomato bushes dried up and were charred.

A scorched mature corn vs. youthful smiley tomatoes and spinach:

                      

The reason this happened is connected to the fact that the bigger and more mature plants need more energy and water for their daily existence – similar to mature heavyset humans versus babies or younger children – which is why their stress was greater. Their height was also a factor. With a larger surface area exposed to the abuse of sun and wind, these plants took the greatest hits as opposed to the younger, shorter plants. On the encouraging side, the mature plants have abundant resources: one scorched leaf does not wipe out an entire corn plant, and the tomato bushes are strong. We expect them to compensate for the withered growth crown with a renewed growth spurt. This crisis will cause a slight hindrance, but they will overcome.

The heatwave and rain combination caused leaf diseases and fungus in the melon and fakkus beds. This Cucurbit family is highly sensitive to heat and humidity, and very prone to diseases. During the first heatwave, our melons suffered and then overcame; the second – a little less, and with the third wave some of the beds simply gave up. Their bushes dried up before the melons had a chance to ripen, and the fruit was tasteless, as the sweetness did not develop within. With sorrow, we turned over the soil which held beautiful-albeit-unsweet fruit.

The other side of the heat is the accelerated speed of ripening, which is also dramatic in the Cucurbit family: the acorn and butternut squash ripened much faster than usual, and we had to harvest those jolly good fellas two weeks ago. The next melon round also ripened early, which is why despite the sorrow over the lost melons, you received cute melons last week and some of you will be receiving them in your boxes this week as well.

This week, planting resumes: the melons, tomatoes and spinach planted before Shavuot will be joined by lettuce, cucumbers and peppers. We’ve already seeded more corn, squash, Thai yard-long beans and edamame. So our field and your boxes host nearly summer produce only.  Over the past few weeks we bid our cabbage farewell, as well as the parsley root and celery. The carrots and beets are our last winter representatives, with a few sparse beds remaining. Your boxes will be painted in summer colors: melons, zucchini, acorn and butternut squash, fakkus, green beans, and  –  make room for the watermelon, coming soon!

With light showers this week, the crazy seesaw of spring is slowing down, and gradually its extreme movement is waning. Maybe we’ll even find ourselves missing spring when the penetrating heat, endless blue skies and merciless sun of summer arrive to stay. But for now, here’s to calm serenity – within the field, and most importantly, outside of it.

Ramadan Karim and Shavua Tov,

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

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 WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S SUMMER BOXES?

Monday: Acorn/butternut squash, lettuce, cucumbers, beets, tomatoes, potatoes, Swiss chard/New Zealand spinach/kale, zucchini, garlic/onions, parsley, melon/carrots.

Large box, in addition: String beans, fakkus, cilantro/dill.

Fruit box: Banana, plum, nectarine, melon. Large box also cherry.

Wednesday: Butternut squash, lettuce, cucumbers, beets, tomatoes, potatoes, Swiss chard/New Zealand spinach/kale, zucchini, garlic/onions, parsley, fakkus.

Large box, in addition: Melon/carrots, cilantro/dill, eggplant/pepper.

Fruit box: Apricot, nectarine, melon. Small box: banana, Large box: cherry.

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.

April 16th-17th-18th 2018 – count down

Field in Spring
Susan Stewart, 1952

Your eye moving
left to right across
the plowed lines
looking to touch down
on the first
shoots coming up
like a frieze
from the dark where
pale roots
and wood-lice gorge
on mold.
Red haze atop
the far trees.
A two dot, then
a ten dot
ladybug. Within
the wind, a per-
pendicular breeze.
Hold a mirror,
horizontal,
to the rain. Now
the blurred repetition
of ruled lines, the faint
green, quickening,
the doubled tears.
Wake up.
The wind is not for seeing,
neither is the first
song, soon half-
way gone,
and the figures,
the figures are not waiting.
To see what is
in motion you must move.

This time of the year, between Pesach and Shavuot, is an interesting time of change. As we count the days and weeks which pass from one holiday to the other, suddenly spring turns to summer.

In the past, Omer Counting marked the days between the beginning of barley harvest – the earliest of grains (which take their time filling up and ripening), harvested from the day after Pesach, till the beginning of wheat harvest,– towards Shavuot. The bread baked from barley flour was harder and coarser (usually, barley was used for animal food), and farmers and their families would actually count the days till they could bake nice, lithe loaves of bread, so much tastier. It is no wonder then that they counted the days till they could feast on soft pita bread…

   

Last Tuesday we were showered with a good amount of rain. The hay and wheat growers in our area hurried to harvest their fields the days before, gathered and stored the yield in a nice dry place. This time of the year, in between barley and wheat harvesting, is the period of almost reaching the harvesting in song part, when the yield has almost arrived at its finish line and therefore can easily be lost just as it is about to be declared a great success. Which is why it’s a time of great expectation combined with a great deal of anxiety and stress. Sultry hamsin winds, unpredicted torrential rain, a sudden pest infestation – all these can rob the hardworking farmer his/her fruits of labor, just as s/he is ready to emit a sigh of relief and rejoice in his/her achievement. Which is why this has always been a time of waiting and praying and carefully bowing a head before the Lord, the earth, nature.

In strong agricultural societies, these days were filled with cooperation and gestures of mutual assistance. Farmers knew their greatest chance of overcoming difficult times, succeeding in their endeavors and conquering the inconveniencies is by uniting and working together in the fields, lending tools to each other, helping farmers in distress. They worked to find a middle path and solve their disputes, replacing the usual power struggles with compromise, knowing those struggles will only sabotage their hard work and eventually cause everyone to lose their yield.

In our small, fragmented country, this is the time of the year laden with memorial and national days, beginning with Yom HaShoah through Yom HaZikaron for IDF soldiers and victims of terror attacks, Independence Day and finally Lag Ba’Omer. These too are days summoning closeness and good friendly companionship. Instead of disputes and struggles over dignities and ego, instead of closing up and feeling threatened, perhaps we can choose the path of togetherness and allow a place and voice to our kin. Perhaps the power of collaboration will open our hearts up to the other. Ha-levai…..

At Chubeza, this is a season of counting: fewer and fewer winter vegetables in your boxes; two more broccoli beds, one more broccoli bed; two more rounds of fennel, one…; five weeks of carrots, four, three, two, one … 500 cauliflowers to go, 400, 200, 50… and one last round of kohlrabi…

At the other end of the spectrum, we are slowly counting the additional new summer vegetables, this time it’s an upward count: 10 kg of squash, 80 kg of squash, lo and behold- 300 kg! Enough for all of the boxes! And soon our spring potatoes will emerge chubby and covered in damp dirt, to be followed joined soon by new spring cohorts: string beans, melons, fakkus…

Almost every year, the transitional seasons are those where there are fewer vegetables ripe for the picking in the field. Though the field abounds with planted vegetables, there are still winter vegetables and many summer vegetables seeded, planted, and blooming- all at various stages. But this year, the spring vegetables are taking their time.

The mild spring is making us very happy when we’re out in the field, enjoying every warm hour (as opposed to the “scorching” hours yet to come) and overcast days that minimize the sunrays. At the deep end, the earth is still saturated with moisture, making it easier for the new vegetables – after a little help getting them acclimated in the earth – to send out their roots and reach the winter rains stored within.

We wish our vegetables a true-to-themselves growth, balanced and in sync with the weather, bugs, sunshine and other components of the symphony of spring. May the growth be accompanied by good health and the ability to take on the challenges of the upcoming summer. We shall welcome each crop with joy upon its arrival, and know that you rejoice along with us.

Wishing you all a good week, of timely occurrences and the patience to let things happen at their own rhythm! May we have a week of togetherness, an eye-to-eye gaze and a touch of benevolence.

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

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In the Box this week:

Monday: Swiss chard/kale, carrots, lettuce, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, parsley root, fennel/kohlrabi, zucchini, betts, potatoes.

Large box also: leek, celery/celeriac, cilantro/parsley/dill.

Wednesday: Swiss chard/kale, carrots, lettuce, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, , fennel/kohlrabi, zucchini, celery/celeriac, beets, potatoes.

Large box also: Parsley root, leek, cilantro/parsley/dill.