September 7th-9th 2020 – Making (Heat) Waves

Rosh Hashana is around the corner, and this is the perfect time to remind you of all the joyful products you can add to your boxes before the holidays: apple and pear juices and alcoholic apple and pear cider from the Matsesa, assorted honey from Hadvash shel Tamir in the Golan or the Ein Harod beehive, delectable organic dates from the Arava in Samar or Neot Smadar (as well as grape juice, date honey and other yummy surprises from the latter), raw Tahina or Tahini from Kibbutz Netiv Halamed Hey or from Melo Hatene farm in Karmei Yossef, crackers from Lev HaTeva or crackers, chocolate and other yumminess from Shoreshei Tzion, cookies from Dani and Galit, dry fruits and “leather” from Melissa’s Mipri Yadeha and more!

And of course, the beautiful Shana BaGina calendar (A Year in the Garden) in various formats: hanging, tabletop or weekly diary

All these treats can be added to your boxes via our order system.

Shana Tova!

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Making (Heat) Waves

We’re somehow surviving the killer heatwave that just doesn’t let up. The high temperatures and humidity are not easy to farm in, to say the least. Sometimes we feel as if we’re toiling inside a hot, wet cloud, as we sweat nonstop and drink like there’s no tomorrow.

As difficult as it is to work outdoors these days, we are grateful for the relative protection we provide our vegetables, especially the growth houses protected by shade nets and the green beds covered by a shading net. And when the scorching heat becomes unbearable, we ourselves take a break and crawl into a cooler, more protected place. Our packing house, where the vegetables arrive before being placed in your boxes, is cooled by huge fans and water sprinklers that diffuse droplets throughout the hot air to lower the temperature just a bit. (Be thankful for small things.)

What about the vegetables? Surprisingly (or maybe not), the vegetables are doing just fine in this heatwave. Usually we need to use irrigation over the dry heat spells and protect the plants from the winds, though this doesn’t always prevent crops from being damaged and drying up. But this present heatwave is very different in that there are no winds and the humidity is so high. What makes our lives so hard is actually great for the vegetables, because the cloudy skies and haze allow for slower evaporation as the veggies delight in calmly lapping up the irrigation water. The radiation is not too strong, and the heat speeds up growth. Our summer vegetables who just love heat are enjoying a growth spurt these days, imagining they’re on holiday on some tropical island and living it up in the fun-in-sun climate.

Those winter vegetables already planted are having a tough time with the heat, but since we pamper them with a shade net and lots of irrigation, they don’t suffer so much and are impressively braving the heat. (How I wish we were just like them….)

Humidity does bring along its own problems: the Silverleaf whiteflies invaded us for a visit to the tomato hothouse, and we were forced to confront them by spraying mineral and capillary oil to keep these pests from climbing on the plants. Hopefully we’ve met this challenge, and other hardships will not accompany the continuing/upcoming heatwaves.

This very hot week is coming to an end with very high temperatures and humidity. In a normal year, we would probably complain about 35 degrees in September, but after these past two weeks we suddenly feel as elated as the family that brought a goat into the house.

Wishing us all a good week, despite the heat, humidity and any and all upcoming waves. May they wash over us gently.

Don’t forget to drink plenty of liquids!

Alon, Bat Ami, Dror and the Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Bell peppers, lettuce/New Zealand spinach, corn, scallions/onions/leeks, cucumbers, tomatoes, popcorn, slice of pumpkin/butternut squash, basil/parsley, eggplant, lubia Thai yard-long beans/okra.

Large box, in addition: Potatoes, coriander, sweet potatoes/zucchini/cherry tomatoes.

FRUIT BOXES: Yellow apples, mango, purple plums, peaches.

Wednesday: Lettuce, basil/New Zealand spinach, corn, scallions/onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, slice of pumpkin/butternut squash, parsley/cilantro, eggplant, lubia Thai yard-long beans/okra.  Small boxes: Bell peppers/potatoes

Large box, in addition: Leeks, sweet potatoes/zucchini, bell peppers and potatoes.

FRUIT BOXES: Yellow apples, mango, pears, peaches.

April 27th-30th 2020 – Protection in the field

REMINDERS:

*This week’s Wednesday deliveries will arrive on Thursday, April 30th

*Henceforth, we will charge your credit cards at the end of each week for vegetables delivered.

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The Chubeza Cover-Up

As reality changes, our perspectives change as well… On my recent trek through our spring field, it seems to be on Corona alert right along with us. Our gloves and masks have become routine, and apparently the field is obediently stepping in line to follow the rules.

Spring is the season in which exuberance explodes with fanfare:   insects galore buzz in the air, ladybugs and butterflies mate and produce offspring, animals awaken from their winter slumber to start seeking food – all in all, an overall growth spurt. After emerging from a winter that lowered temperatures, hid the sunrays and slowed down the rhythm, the warm field is alive and the plants are thriving!

This vibrancy is exciting, but also challenging to the farmers: a host of flying insects arriving from afar carry (non-human) viruses and other diseases which may develop into leaf diseases once they land on our plants, even for a short rest. This is especially critical for the Cucurbitaceaes: zucchini, pumpkins, squash, melon and watermelon, all planted and seeded at the end of winter.

As nature cannot halt flights or close the skies, it also can’t order the insects to go into quarantine for two weeks. Which is why we decided to quarantine them ourselves… well, kind of… Naturally, they still receive their irrigation and sunshine, but they’re protected from the flying insects by Agril (non-woven material) which we spread over the beds:

Spring squash covered in Agril

This cover can only remain in place until blossoms appear on the plants, which is when we need some help from those flying insects to pollinate the flowers, spurring fertilization and eventually fruit. By then, our plants will be strong and mature enough to confront the viruses – at least for a good while. (At some point, the viruses defeat the Cucurbitaceaes, but by then perfect fruits have already been produced.)

Another way to protect against harmful insects stinging the plants, digging into them, nibbling on them or giving them diseases is by planting the crops inside a specially-made structure: a hothouse or tunnel. The walls of the structure have double doors – when we enter, we close one behind us before opening the next door, preventing insects from entering along with us.

The main (but not sole) vegetables which we grow in these structures are tomatoes and cucumbers. In the first years, we planted tomatoes and cucumbers in the open field, but upon building these structures several years later and moving the tomatoes and cucumbers inside, the difference has been enormous. In the open field, the plants were able to yield only one round of crops (if we were lucky), whereas within the protected structures they yield over many months. However, the land is of limited size, so we stretch trellising cords to allow the plants to climb up tall and sturdy. This also prevents a range of problems and harm caused by crowded growth on the ground. These are our tomatoes and cucumbers making their way upward in our net structures:

                                                    Tomato:                                                                                                  Cucumber:

Surprisingly, perhaps, the final safety precaution (pictured below) protects against other plants, not insects: During spring and summer, the field’s beautiful growth spurt is joined by weeds. Covering the soil surrounding the plants is a great way to prevent (or at the very least reduce) weeds which compete with the plants for food and water and wreak havoc with the veggies’ development. Thus, over summer many vegetable beds are protected by a biodegradable silver cover (which decomposes into the soil at the end of the season) into which we insert the plants through round holes. The cover also retains moisture within the soil and prevents the fierce summer sun from drying up the soil too quickly. If you slip your hand under the cover, you will discover nice moist soil, cooler than the exposed dirt outside. Here are some eggplants enjoying the cover and growing happily.

Smiling eggplants burst out of their biodegradable cover (made of corn)

Protective measures against Corona will probably remain with us for a while. When I’m annoyed by the uncomfortable mask or gloves, I think about our plants in the field who are protected as well, and remember that at the end of day this uncomfortable situation yields fruit that is utterly sweet, healthy and joyful.

This week is one that adds a measure of proportion to these challenging days – So many men and women in this country have endured far tougher times. It is thanks to them that we are able to live and grow in this country (and complain about it).

Wishing you all a joyous Yom HaAtzmaut and only good days to come,

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

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

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

Large box, in addition: Parsley root/celery, fennel/turnips, slice of pumpkin/peas.

FRUIT BOXES: Bananas, oranges/red grapefruit, apples, avocados/loquat (shesek)/nectarines. 

Thursday: Zucchini/bell peppers, potatoes, beets, cucumbers, tomatoes, leeks/onions, Swiss chard/kale/New Zealand spinach, parsley/coriander/dill, lettuce, fennel/turnips, carrots.

Large box, in addition: Parsley root/celery, slice of pumpkin, cabbage/garlic.

FRUIT BOXES: Bananas, oranges/red grapefruit, apples, avocados/nectarines. 

July 29th-31st 2019 – Mid-Summer Field

The new, beautiful, innovative, and informative 2019-2020 edition of Luach Shana Bagina is arriving! This calendar is an essential companion for the Israeli home gardener and farmer alike.

The 2019/2020 calendar was inspired by the abundance prevailing in the home, kitchen, garden and nature. All recipes this year are dedicated to food conservation in a bevy of methods and flavors.

Each Shana Bagina Calendar page is chockfull of *professional tips for your home garden *seeding and planting schedules *info on growing your plants from seed to fruit * seasonal recipes for food conservation * solar and lunar events, green events, and much more.

This year, Luach Shana Bagina is extending new branches blossoming with new, sweet fruit:

A tabletop calendar (similar to the regular calendar in content and illustration)

Illustrated weekly calendar journal (differs in content and illustrations)

And decorative magnets with detailed schedules of seeding and planting for spring/summer and fall/winter:

  • Coming soon – the English edition!!

Order via our order system.

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And there in those wild bowers
A lovely form is laid;
Green grass and dew-steeped flowers
Wave gently round her head.

(Emily Bronte)

Our calendar notes that we’re almost at the midpoint of summer, and a look at Chubeza’s field (through the sweat-screen) reveals a very summer- crop landscape, i.e., relatively empty. The small-sized pumpkins, the garlic and onion have ripened and been gathered to our shade net to be stored for the next few months. The giant-sized pumpkins are almost ready, after five months of plumping up nicely, and will soon make their way to the storage net. The zucchini, watermelons and melons have almost sealed their season, with only the bravest now remaining upright in the open fields (covered lovingly with mesh and shade nets to help ease the heat). Tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers are mostly planted within tunnels and growth structures, covered with shade nets to protect from the scorching sun. Look at this beautiful tomato, marching to her own beat as she blushes in Harvest Rhythm. (Thank you, Dafna, for capturing this sight!)

In the open fields, it’s survival of the heartiest. Under the vast shade nets are the leafy greens that somehow endure the summer: lettuce, parsley, coriander, scallions and New Zealand spinach. In the open beds, the lubia (yard-long beans), okra, eggplant, and of course, the uncontested king of summer, corn – turn their faces towards the blue skies.



The Jerusalem artichokes stand erect as they wait for autumn, their cue to blossom and grow their bulbs, alongside the sweet potatoes – who have not yet made their debut in your boxes – lazily spreading out to soak up the sun, creating a marvelous carpet of sprawling intertwined stems soon to blossom in beautiful purple array.

2016-07-24 12.25.15

But the field is always planning ahead, with one foot in the next season, so that even what seems desolate and static is in fact forward thinking. Clear plastic sheets have been spread over the earth in our growth tunnels in a process called “soil solarisation” that cleanses the earth of pathogens before seeding (more about this process over the next few weeks) in order to prevent attacks on the new winter crops being planted. The piles of organic waste at the edge of our field (already nice and warm and transforming to compost) have been mixed with bird droppings and turned over by Gabi’s tractor. When these piles settle down again, a process of decomposition will take place within, assisted by billions of microbes, tiny organisms, worms, beetles, fungi and other earth dwellers to produce excellent aromatic compost.

In Hebrew, the word summer also means “ripe fruit” – probably in regard to figs. And the fig trees in our locale of Kfar Bin Noon are indeed bowing under the weight of succulent fruit, alongside the sweet fruit of the sabres growing at the edges of our field, plus the fruit within the field at its seed-producing prime. Now is the time to hold onto the seeds of pods that have ripened and dried up altogether, like our amazing okra:

The fields are buzzing with excitement, and everything is blooming: the plants flowering before they produce fruit, the weeds rushing to blossom and produce seeds before we pluck them out (which we attempt to do before their seeds ripen with the next generation in tow). And where there are flowers, well – there are insects paying visits, sharing information, drinking up some nectar and chattering away in insect-ish. When harvesting, it’s important to watch out for the scared bee that will scare us back with a venomous sting (speaking from experience…..). Here are some close-ups of the effervescent activities underway in our summery field:

      

Even the empty plots which have been in bedrest for several months have been cleansed, refreshed and allowed to gather strength as they return to work one after another. You can probably imagine how hot and dry the earth is at this time. Turning over dry earth pounds the clods out till they are dust, destroying their ventilation and breathing texture. Thus, in order to cultivate the earth, we dampen it with sprinklers. Only after the water is well-absorbed and the dirt is moist can we turn it over and prepare a place for the upcoming planting, due to begin in two weeks’ time.

The fall guests are already standing at the door. So, who’s marching towards the appointed plots? From the beginning of August, we will plant lettuce, Swiss chard, white cabbage, cauliflower, beets, fennel, celery and celeriac, leeks, broccoli, scallions and kale. These plantings allow us to stretch the autumn season just a little longer, but when you’re hosting guests from cold climates in the Israeli sweltering summer, you must take pains to provide wide-brim hats, parasols and ample water. This is exactly the kind of comfort we will be providing our autumn field friends at Chubeza, under shade nets, assisted generously by the irrigation system.

Chubeza’s field is always before, during and after. Somewhat like this summer vacation time now, with the schoolyear entirely behind us, day camps finished, and us amidst our own summer R&R or juggling children, work, and life as the new schoolyear beckons ’round the corner with brand new beginnings in its wings.

Wishing you all great summer getaways and relaxation, with lots of water, blue skies and family time. And best “King’s Day” holiday wishes to our Thai workers!

Shavua Tov,

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

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Butternut squash/Amoro squash/melon, lettuce, corn, New Zealand spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes, okra/Thai yard-long beans, slice of Napolitana pumpkin, parsley/coriander, cherry tomatoes, onions.

Large box, in addition: Red bell peppers/zucchini, eggplants, garlic.

ALL FRUIT BOXES: Apples, grapes, mango. SMALL BOXES: Bananas LARGE BOXES: Plums

Wednesday: Butternut squash/Amoro squash, lettuce, corn, New Zealand spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes, Thai yard-long beans, slice of Napolitana pumpkin, parsley/coriander, cherry tomatoes, okra/onions.

Large box, in addition: Red bell peppers/zucchini/potatoes, eggplants, garlic.

ALL FRUIT BOXES: Apples, grapes, mango. SMALL BOXES: Bananas LARGE BOXES: Plums.

May 27th-29th 2019 – High temperatures, Heat waves and flames

As the season changes, our fruit boxes are keeping pace. Due to the high price of fruit, we offer two sizes of fruit boxes during summertime:

Small fruit box – 70 NIS

Large fruit box – 100 NIS

Choose your preferred size and advise us via our order system.

Here’s to a sweet, juicy summer!

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Shavuot Changes

Over the week of Shavuot, Monday deliveries switch to Tuesday 11/6.

Chag Sameach!

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Fire

Last week we were struck with red hot, sweltering  days. At Chubeza, as soon as we started feeling the temperatures rise, we set out to help our vegetables cope with the approaching heat stress. The mercury indeed skyrocketed to 42-44 degrees!

When attempting to cope with such a heat wave, human beings take measures to protect themselves from direct sunrays by wearing hats, seeking shade, drinking a lot,  hunkering down at home with the AC or fan blasting, or heading for the water, be it a shower, beach, swimming pool or natural spring. The vegetables, on the other hand, are stuck in the soil, right where we planted or seeded them, with no option to escape…

To make their lives easier in the open field, we stretched shade nets over the more sensitive veggies (specifically the greens) and the growth houses, to shield them from the glaring sun and lower the temperatures a bit. And, of critical importance,  we filled up their canteens “because it is important to drink a lot!”, i.e., we upped the duration of irrigation to provide the plants with a generous portion of water  to fight the loss of liquids (which of course escalates in the heat) in the leaves and the  hastened evaporation of the water from the soil.

And indeed, our plants made it through the heat wave with flying colors – all but the cherry tomatoes which grow in the open field (and were not coddled with a shade net) whose plant tops and inflorescence were lightly scorched. But they are tough plants, and our guess is that they will overcome this challenge and eventually make it. But this may delay their yield. We are also waiting with trepidation to see if this stress will take its toll over time – the plants are sometimes able to pull through at the cost of weakening and becoming vulnerable to disease and other ills. We hope our fears will prove groundless, so to speak.

There is one advantage to this very hot weather and the accompanying dryness, especially following such a rainy season. Leaf diseases and various funguses tend to thrive in moist weather. The very welcome rain also improved the conditions for several leaf pests to develop and  damage the potatoes, for one. Potatoes are seeded in the middle of January, at the peak of wintertime. For some years now, we have pushed up the seeding schedule as the warm temperatures arrived early for the mature potatoes to enjoy. But this year they were cold and grew very slowly, challenged by numerous leaf inflictions. They had it hard. Then came the heat waves which dried up the  fungi and other pests, becoming  quite a boon.  However,  as of yet, this year’s potato crop has been unimpressive with smaller yields and smaller  sizes than usual. But to our delight, they are still aesthetic and yummy.

The sweltering heat waves also spawned forest fires in our area – north and south. Although the flames avoided  Kfar Bin Nun,  they did ravage our neighboring communities of Mevo Modi’m and Kibbutz Harel, where entire homes were gutted. In these times of cautious, gentle healing and return to routine,  we send our hopes for strength, growth and restoration to the families who suffered losses.

Wishing you all a good, soothing springtime week,

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

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

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

Large box, in addition: Cabbage/yellow string beans, butternut squash/acorn squash, fakus.

FRUIT BOXES: 

Small: Nectarines, bananas, peaches, apples/melon

Large: Nectarines, bananas, peaches, cherries

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

Large box, in addition: garlic, butternut squash/acorn squash, fakus.

FRUIT BOXES: 

Small: Bananas, peaches, avocado, pomelit.

Large: Bananas, peaches, avocado, cherries.

August 6th-8th – Midsummer day dream

The Ish shel Lechem bakery is taking a short summer break in a couple of weeks. There will be no bread baking on August 13 and Wednesday 15th. Those who wish to increase their order next week, please inform us or DIY via our order system. Wishing everyone a happy vacation!

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’TIS the last rose of summer
Left blooming alone;
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone;
No flower of her kindred,
No rosebud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes,
To give sigh for sigh.

–    Thomas Moore (1805)

Our calendars indicate that we’re now at the midpoint of summer which began six weeks ago on June 21 and ends in six weeks on September 22. A look at Chubeza’s field (through the sweat-screen) reveals a very summery crop landscape, i.e., relatively empty. The pumpkins, garlic, onion and popcorn (coming soon!) have ripened and been gathered to our shade net to be stored for the next few months. The tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers are mostly planted within tunnels and growth structures, covered with shade nets protecting them from the scorching sun. The zucchinis and green beans have sealed their season. Now only the bravest remain standing in the open fields, the leafy greens that somehow are able to survive in summer: lettuce, parsley, coriander, scallions and New Zealand spinach. In the open beds the lubia, okra, eggplant, and of course, the uncontested king of summer, corn – turn their faces towards the blue skies. The sweet potatoes, which have not yet arrived in your boxes this year, are lazily spreading out to soak up the sun, alongside Jerusalem artichokes standing erect as they wait for autumn, their cue to blossom and grow their bulbs.

    

But the field is always planning ahead, with one foot in the next season, so that even what seems desolate and static is in fact forward thinking. Clear plastic sheets have been spread over the earth in our growth tunnels in a process called “soil solarisation” that cleanses the earth of pathogens before seeding, in order to prevent attacks on the plant in preparation for planting season. The piles of organic waste at the edge of our field (emitting their… hmmmm…scented fragrances) have been mixed and turned over by Gabi’s tractor. When they’re resting again, a process of decomposition will take place within, assisted by billions of microbes, tiny organisms, worms, beetles, fungi and other earth dwellers till they become excellent aromatic compost.

In Hebrew, the word summer also means “ripe fruit” – probably in regard to figs. And the fig trees in our locale of Kfar Bin Noon are indeed bowing under the burden of juicy fruit, alongside the sweet fruit of the sabres growing at the rims of our field and the field fruit that is also at its prime producing seeds. Now is the time to hold onto the seeds of pods that have ripened and dried up altogether, like our amazing okra:

The fields are buzzing with excitement, and everything is blooming: the plants flowering before they produce fruit, the weeds rushing to blossom and produce seeds before we pluck them out (we attempt to uproot them before their seeds ripen with the next generation in tow). And where there are flowers, well – there are insects paying visits, sharing information, drinking up some nectar and chattering away in insect-ish. Here are some examples of the busy bubbling activities underway in our summery field:

              

Even the empty plots which have been in bedrest for several months have been cleansed, refreshed and allowed to gather strength as they return to work one after another. You can probably imagine how hot and dry the earth is at this time. Turning over dry earth pounds the clods out till they are dust, resulting in the destruction of their ventilated and breathing texture.

Thus, in order to cultivate the earth, we dampen it with sprinklers. Only after the water is well-absorbed and the dirt is moist can we turn it over and prepare a place for the upcoming planting seasons, due to begin over the next few weeks.

So it is indeed the middle of summer, but we have only recently planted the last of the sunny season’s crops, and the fall guests are already standing at the door. So who’s marching towards the appointed plots? In the middle of August we will plant white cabbage, cauliflower, red beets, fennel, celery and celeriac, lettuce, leeks, broccoli and kale. These plantings allow us to stretch the autumn season just a little longer, but when you’re hosting guests from cold climates in the Israeli sweltering summer, you must make sure to provide wide brim hats, parasols and sufficient water. This is exactly the kind of comfort we will be providing our autumn field friends at Chubeza, under shade nets, assisted generously by the irrigation system. And just like that, every year, smack in the middle of summer, we catch a “soon in theatres near you” glimpse of the fresh harbingers of autumn – fresh fennel salad topped with lemon juice, or fresh crunchy cauliflower.

We are still in for some days of oppressive heat, but lifting the shade nets and admiring the strong cabbages and youthful celery provides some cool relief and a heartwarming glow.

Wishing you all a happy summery week, with lots of enjoyment ahead,

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

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S SUMMER BOXES?

Monday: Bell peppers, slice of pumpkin, Thai yard-long beans, cucumbers, eggplant, tomatoes, okra/scallions, cherry tomatoes, potatoes, parsley/coriander, lettuce.

Large box, in addition: Butternut squash, corn, New Zealand spinach.

FRUIT BOXES: Mango, pears, nectarines. Small boxes: Bananas, Large boxes: Apples

Wednesday: Bell peppers, slice of pumpkin, Thai yard-long beans, cucumbers, eggplant, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, potatoes, parsley, New Zealand spinach. Small boxes only: okra/scallions.

Large box, in addition: Butternut squash, corn, lettuce, onions.

FRUIT BOXES: Mango, plums, nectarines. Small boxes: Bananas, Large boxes: Apples.