February 10th-12th 2020 – Happy Tu B’Shvat!

 Trees

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918)

This classic poem seems ideal for this year’s Tu B’Shvat holiday, at the height of a bitter cold storm. We too would like to live intimately with rain, as the more sensitive veggies (especially the leafy greens) are covered in cloth sheets, with some planted in the net house or plastic tunnels that protect them from hail. But we are definitely trembling, not only from cold but also from the threat of being hit by frost. Keep your fingers crossed for us! Full report to follow when we reach the other end of the storm.

Tu B’Shvat, celebrating the New Year of the Trees, began in Talmudic days as a bureaucratic-appointed time, the beginning of taxation (Terumah) for the fruits of the tree. Since every year a tithe is given from the yield, it was necessary to determine the point from when the year is counted. Ultimately the 15th of Shvat was granted the honor of being the definitive date.

The month of Shvat was chosen as it is the season in which the trees renew their fertility cycle. The name Shvat derives from the word “shevet”, meaning a branch. During this time of the year, the branches flow and beat with the great winds, bend under the raindrops or snow, break or flex, sometimes even stunned by lighting. The other meaning of Shvat is the delicate facet of the word, that of a branch beginning its growth anew. According to tradition, the Biblical flood ended in Shvat, and the dove dispatched by Noah brought back a young olive branch, taut and fresh from a newly-blossoming tree. Yet amidst this chaos, the tree branches begin their growth cycle: thanks to the rains that have fallen and the days growing longer, the branches develop buds and begin to bloom and sprout new leaves in preparation for fruit.

Here at Chubeza we hardly grow any trees, but we sure as heck grow fruit. The daily work in the field allows us to closely examine the full circle of nature, from sprouting seeds to growth and ripening. It’s fun to look at the various shapes of blossoming and pollination in plants, from the male and female flowers of the Cucurbits to the wind that fertilizes the corn flowers, the tiny pea pods hiding within the butterfly-shaped flowers, and the bumblebees working diligently to fertilize the tomatoes in the growth houses…. So yes, we are a vegetable garden, but if we have blossoming and fertilizing that create a fruit full of seeds, what exactly are we growing here? Fruits or vegetables? Perhaps this question does not seem too important if in the long run the product is juicy and yummy, but you’d be surprised to hear that even the Supreme Court deliberated over this issue.

Literally, the word fruit is used to indicate various types of yield: “fruit of the womb” is a child, “fruit of your labor” is the outcome of hard work and “to bear fruit” is to yield desired results. But the botanical interpretation is unequivocal: fruit is the seed-bearing structure in flowering plants formed from the ovary after flowering.

As this image indicates, a tomato is definitely a fruit. So are cucumbers, peppers, eggplant, pumpkins and avocados, if we go by the botanical description. Add peas in the pod (though the peas themselves are the seeds) and even kernels of corn!

However, strawberries and figs are not fruit in botanical terms. The strawberry’s red skin is a swelled receptacle of the flower and its fruit are the nutlets – those tiny dots that cover the surface of the strawberry. The fig has a similar story: it is a closed meaty inflorescence containing lots of little flowers. The actual fruit is the tiny cress in the edible part.

“Vegetable” has no botanical definition. It is a culinary classification for the edible part of the plant. This includes roots (like carrots and beets), greens (like cabbage, Swiss chard or kale), stems (like potatoes, fennel or kohlrabi), flower buds (like cauliflower and broccoli), seeds (corn and peas), and of course actual fruit like tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, pumpkins eggplant, etc, which are fruit despite being considered vegetables in the culinary sense.

Now, to the legal matter: In 1887, the tomato was brought before the Supreme Court in order to determine whether it is a fruit or vegetable. If the court ruled fruit, then the tomato should be exempt from the required tax on imported vegetables, but not fruits.

Witnesses and specialists were summoned before the Court, which had to admit that tomatoes were indeed fruit… but also vegetables…  The Court ultimately ruled that although “botanically speaking, tomatoes are the fruit of a vine, just as are cucumbers, squash, beans, and peas. . . . In the common language of the people . . . all these are vegetables which are grown in kitchen gardens, and which, whether eaten cooked or raw, are, like potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, beets, cauliflower, cabbage, celery, and lettuce, usually served at dinner in, with, or after the soup, fish, or meats which constitute the principal part of the repast, and not, like fruits generally, as dessert.” Thus, the Court concluded, a tomato is a vegetable.

Tu B’Shvat does not get caught up in these nuances. Without slighting the vegetables that are annual fruits, it celebrates the fruit of trees, the perennials  soon to grow on the trees standing in place with their gnarled-sometimes-scarred trunks, through rain, wind and sun, year after year, teaching us that one can indeed bloom after challenging times and continue to bear fruit.

This year, too, we remind ourselves that though it is definitely cold, we are not back in the European Diaspora. Here we bask in a wealth of fresh, locally grown fruit on the shelves which is why it is ridiculous to eat the imported dry fruits to mark this very Israeli holiday. The author of Hemdat Yamim invented the custom to “eat many fruits on the eve of this day and sing its praises…” Let us fulfill this blessing with sweet happiness as we sit round a table abounding with sweet, succulent fruit from the Land of Israel.

Wishing you all a Chag Sameach and a special call-out for those fruit trees among us,

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

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Swiss chard/totsoi/kale, broccoli, scallions/onions/leeks, cucumbers, tomatoes, celery/celeriac, carrots, parsley/coriander/mizuna/arugula, lettuce, cauliflower. Small boxes only: Daikon/fennel.

Large box, in addition: Beets, cabbage, Jerusalem artichokes, peas/green fava beans.

FRUIT BOXES: Clementinot, bananas, pomelit, avocado. 

Wednesday: Swiss chard/totsoi/kale, broccoli, cucumbers, tomatoes, celery/celeriac/parsley root, carrots, mizuna/arugula, lettuce, cauliflower/cabbage/potatoes, peas/green fava beans, daikon/fennel.

Large box, in addition: Beets/Jerusalem artichokes, parsley/coriander, scallions/onions/leeks. A special gift: a bag of small broccoli florets.

FRUIT BOXES: Clementinot / oranges, bananas, pomelit, avocado. 

January 21st-23rd 2019 – Happy TuBishvat

In Honor of Tu B’Shvat, we have a joyous offers for you:

Melissa of Mipri Yadeha also announces a sweet and celebratory sale: order 2 dry fruits or one fruit “leather” and receive a complimentary sampler of mixed fruit (one per client – stock permitting).

Order via our order system.

Chag Sameach!

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May this day not perish from our tongue/ Rabbi Moshe Chalua

May this day not perish from our tongue in song and melody
Tu B’Shvat, a day of greatness for each plant and tree
I shall choose a fruit of the Land and fervently pray
The Lord save it from strife and enmity
Satiate the world with glory, fill it with your righteousness
And we shall quench our hunger with sweet fruit of the Land
This year you will eat, drink, and be of joy
And I shall hide in the shadow of your wings in peaceful repose
wheat, barley, grapes, figs, olives and pomegranates
of beauty and freshness to compose

This year we were able to celebrate Tu B’Shvat during a sunny week following the blessed showers – a two-week dry break from the rain, keeping us sun-washed and warm. Perfect timing! This lull allows the soil to absorb some warmth as the water permeates deep down slowly but surely, and lets the gigantic water-and-mud puddles in our field dry up. The earth regains its ventilation after a spate of sticky mud, saturated with water and blocking the air.

Tu B’Shvat, celebrating the New Year of the Trees, began in Talmudic days as a bureaucratic-appointed time, the beginning of taxation (Terumah) for the fruits of the tree. Since every year a tithe is given from the yield, it was necessary to determine the point from when the year is counted. Ultimately the 15th of Shvat was granted the honor of being the definitive date. But this explanation is rather impersonal and totally misses out on the connection, reliance and reflection between man and nature, specifically the trees.

The month of Shvat was chosen as it is the season in which the trees renew their fertility cycle. The name Shvat derives from the word “shevet”, meaning a branch. During this time of the year, the branches dance and beat with the great winds, bend under the raindrops or snow, break or flex, sometimes even stunned by lighting. The other meaning of Shvat is the delicate facet of the word, that of a branch beginning its growth anew. According to tradition, the Biblical flood ended in Shvat, and the dove dispatched by Noah brought back a young olive branch, taut and fresh from a newly-blossoming tree. Yet amidst this chaos, the tree branches begin their growth cycle: Thanks to the rains that have fallen and the days growing longer, the branches develop buds and begin to bloom and sprout new leaves in preparation for fruit.

And how is fruit born? Just like a baby.

Every fruit develops from a flower (usually following pollination). After pollination, the flower changes: its petals, stamen and calyx wilt, and the fertilized cells divide and grow into the embryo – the seed. The embryo cells divide into tissue and organs of the seed (the radicle and plumule surrounding the endosperm – a food-hoarding tissue). In Hebrew, the first stage in the ripening of the fruit has a specific name: חנטה. When it begins, water and nutrients start arriving to the cells, and they rapidly divide and grow. The ovary grows, its walls thicken and the stem surrounding it becomes juicy and grows as the seeds develop within it. Usually you can see the remains of the sepals of the dried-up flower at the top of the fruit. This stage is extremely sensitive to weather change, strong winds and rain, causing many tiny fruits to fall from the vine.

At the end of this stage, the fruit begins to ripen, and changes appear in its size, shape, scent, color, flavor, texture and softness. The fruit is the organ which contains the seeds, wrapping them in a juicy layer and peel. Fruit has pivotal significance to the continuation of the plant, as here is where the plant’s “embryo” lies, protecting it and assisting it to spread the seed and become absorbed in the earth.

This awakening in nature and the sweet promise it proclaims, together with the concern for actual fulfillment of this promise, made Tu B’Shvat a day to sing about, offer special prayers and celebrate God’s abundance by rejoicing in nature. And of course, celebrations call for food, and what better meal than one consisting of fruits of the earth, its most natural confectionary?

There is something magical about eating fruit to celebrate the tree from which it grows. Biting into a luscious fruit is tasting the sweet, thirst-quenching present, but also sensing the traces of its past: the rain and sun that caressed the tree, watered its roots and made the buds peek from the branches; the wildlife which brushed against its trunk and climbed it; the birds who built nests among its branches, the bees merrily buzzing, the flies and other pollinators who hovered over its blooms, transferring pollen from flower to flower, and the ripening – that magical moment when the pollination fertilizes and a new little fetus of a fruit is created. And in the midst of all this sweetness and juice is the seed, the hard, serious heart of the light-headed, seductive fruit, in which the future lies: the next tree, its branches, leaves, flowers and fruit, the sun, winter, rain; the hammock that will be hung from its boughs, the treehouse to be built at its crown, and of course, the joyful band of wildlife that will surround it.

This is also the month of foaling amongst the goats and flocks of sheep. Now of all times, when it’s still so cold outside, the baby lambs and kids (goats) are being born, because the world around them is bursting with greenery to eat. One look at the Chubeza beds illustrates this green outburst (and with it the constant need to weed…), streaked by wild grass that can make do with the little rain it’s gotten so far.

This beautiful holiday is very local and dependent on the climate of this country, and the warmth we already feel in the air. Ask the Europeans who are shivering from the cold or the North Americans attempting in vain to defrost their frozen hands in the warm glow of a frigid Valentine’s Day. Even the Mexicans, whose weather forecast varies from “hot” to “very hot” all year long, or the Thais, who move from extreme “wet” to “dry” will not understand my girls’ glee as they discover another almond tree in bloom along our route to school. This is definitely a local Israeli celebration, observed only in the beloved and thin slice of country between sea, mountain and desert.

 

In the 1880’s, with the renewal of the Jewish settlement in Israel, the need arose to find new agenda for this day, perhaps to proclaim: Now that we’re here, it is not enough to eat from the fruits of the land left to us by our forefathers/mothers (and Arab falachim), it’s time to plant new fruits. On Tu B’Shvat 1890, teacher and writer Ze’ev Yavetz led his students from the school in Zichron Ya’akov to a festive tree planting, and thus dictated the new character of Tu B’Shvat: a holiday of planting, not merely Rosh HaShana of the Trees. In 1908, the Teachers’ Union formally proclaimed Tu B’Shvat to be the holiday of planting. Later, the Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemet) adopted this date, and thus, Tu B’Shvat is officially a day of planting.

However, over the years things have become somewhat shriveled, and a cynical note has begun to creep into the holiday mood. Often the festive planting does not result in a forest, but rather in new plantings, same place, one year later. Azaria Alon writes, “Looking back, we can only blame ourselves, the Keren Kayemet and the Teachers’ Union, for the fact that Tu B’Shvat is not a holiday for nature but a holiday of planting. Let’s search the songs and ads for a word about what will happen to the plant after it is planted, about our commitment to the tree after we leave the planting site.” (Remember Salach Shabati?)

And so, when new content for the holiday was required, Avraham Bumi Toren, a pioneer SPNI activist of Kibbutz Maa’barot, suggested that Tu B’Shvat become the holiday of nature, and the SPNI declared it so. Thus this day, which was already viewed by our forefathers and mothers as the harbinger of the transition from winter to renewed growth, is now expressed in nature as the start of major blooming, budding, the blossoming of the almond tree, the awakening of various birds for nesting and reproduction, and other phenomena. Going out into nature to view its world has become the new content of the holiday. Another facet of this holiday originated with the popular campaign of the 70’s to save the wildflowers of Israel, stressing the rule not to harm, pick, or uproot the rare wildflowers.

Over the past few years, perhaps because we are gradually disconnecting from nature, paving paradise and putting up parking lots, Tu B’Shvat has become the holiday for the environment, in a general sort of way, and specifically in matters of recycling and educating about damage control. Not that this isn’t good–it’s creative and interesting and beneficial. But I feel a little ache in my heart as we drift farther away from my childhood memories of walking in my boots and coat to the planting site, digging my fingers into the freezing earth, taking the plant out of its black plastic jacket and placing it gently into the hole my father dug with a great big shovel. True, it is important to continue to treat this tree, to care for it and cultivate it, but it is too bad that people are fearful of this commitment, because we are losing a lot. Losing the sensual experience that accompanies planting and touching the earth, as well as the life it grants us, ingrained within the plant.

Wishing you a week of finding the time to enjoy the outdoors in its beautiful blooming green stretches dotted with flowers. Maybe you’ll even add your own plant. Chag Sameach!

 

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

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Scallions/onions, lettuce, broccoli/cabbage, turnips/ beets/kohlrabi, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, cauliflower, Swiss chard/kale/broccoli greens/mizuna, potatoes, fava beans/snow peas or garden peas/Jerusalem artichoke.

Large box, in addition: Celeriac/parsley root, fennel/daikon/radishes, coriander/ parsley.

FRUIT BOXES:  Bananas, avocado, clementinas, pomelit, oranges.

Wednesday: Scallions/onions, lettuce, broccoli/cabbage/cauliflower, turnips/beets/kohlrabi, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, Swiss chard/kale/broccoli greens/mizuna, potatoes, snow peas or garden peas/Jerusalem artichoke, celeriac/parsley root.

Large box, in addition: Fennel/daikon/radishes, parsley, red bell peppers.

FRUIT BOXES:  Bananas, avocado, lemons, pomelit, oranges.

Aley Chubeza #277, January 25th-27th 2016

Many thanks to all who responded, supported and smiled through email, text messages and conversations regarding the Chubeza price rise. In conclusion, these are the projected prices beginning February:

Small vegetable box – 90 NIS
Large vegetable box – 115 NIS
Small fruit box – 60 NIS
Large fruit box – 90 NIS
Family Fruit box remains 140 NIS
Delivery fees remain unchanged.

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In honor of the great winter approaching us, we have new products and new sales for old products that will make you happy and warm you up over the freezing days ahead:

shoreshei zionEliezer of Sihorshei Tzion has informed us of a new, delectable product: Raw Sprouted Nuts, Almonds, Pecans, Walnuts, Cashew in packages of 100/350 gram.

This healthy snack can be eaten raw as a healthy delicious snack, to garnish vegetable or fruit salads, add to granola, desserts, or as a raw ingredient in any recipe!

The Process

We begin soaking the nuts in filtered water for 12-24 hours. This awakens the nut and begins the sprouting process. The nuts are then rinsed and dried at a low temperature (below 46c) for 24 – 36 hours giving them a delicious crisp and crunchy flavor and enhancing their nutritional value

Why Sprouted?

The sprouting process activates enzymes and neutralizes harsh acids found in all nuts, seeds, and grains. This process aids digestion and absorption of essential nutrients. Sprouting can also reduce up to 50% fat and 25% calories and increase protein up to 30% in food.

Why Raw Food?

Food heated over 115 F is diminished of its enzymes and nutrients. Eating raw food allows for easy digestion and absorption of nutrients, and contributes strength & energy to the entire body.

Raw Sprouted Nuts and all other unique products of Shorshei Tzion can be ordered via our order system.

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levhateva3Lev Ha’Aretz

We have been working with Assaf and Zohar from Lev Ha’aretz for some time now. Their story is very appropriate for wintery weather… When the small food company where they were both employed was suddenly sold to one of the bigger companies in Israel, they decided that in order to fulfill a dream, one must proceed down even the foggy roads.

They made the decision to create high-quality, tasty and healthy products, as well as providing work for residents of the north, and then set out to raise funds. With great efforts, assisted by family and friends, they finally established a small cracker factory, which began as a fulfillment of a dream and is marching on, an accomplishment not to be taken for granted these days, all due to the great dedication and responsibility of Assaf, Zohar and their crew. Today, the factory produces a variety of excellent crackers for the local market, and recently they have begun exporting as well. All the while, they keep getting better and more creative, all because of their persistence (and the fact that they are good people).

Zohar and Assaf’s crackers are made out of simple, healthy and basic components: flour, grains and seeds, with no sugar or other preservatives. Lev Hateva offers crackers in three different flavors: wheat, rye and spelt. Besides their great health value and excellent flavor, I believe that the fact they are made in a northern factory is of great significance. The factory employs local residents, including  youth and challenged individuals, helping them make a step towards integrating into the employment market.

Over the coming month Lev Hateva is offering a special price for their excellent crackers: one package for 17 NIS, two for 22 NIS.

If you haven’t experienced them yet, I encourage you to sample the crackers and fall in love. Those of you who already are hooked – here is your chance to spoil yourselves with the greatest crackers for an excellent price.

Orders via our order system.

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Believing I am an oak in a rock,
Even if a storm hits me, I will overcome it.
When I shed tears, I sow.
Sorrow is the soul,
I am nature.
 
Believing in mankind the heavens,
And the tree and sea,
I will be.
As long as I am, I will remember the thought
That happiness is mankind,
And touch it I ought.
 
(An Oak in the Rock, Avishai Cohen)

This beautiful poem came to my mind at this time of year, Tu B’Shvat, at the peak of the storm and cold weather. We, too, hope and wish to overcome the upcoming storm. We’ve covered our more sensitive vegetables with cloth sheets, and some of them are planted in the net house or hiding under the plastic tunnels protecting them from hail, but we’re definitely fearful of the upcoming frost. Keep your fingers crossed for us! And stay tuned for our  report next week!

Tu B’Shvat, celebrating the birthday of the trees, began as a bureaucratic appointed time, the beginning of taxation (Terumah) for the fruits of the tree. Since every year a tithe is given from the yield, it was necessary to decide from when the year is counted, and the 15th of Shvat was given the honor of being the definitive date. But this explanation is rather impersonal and totally misses out on the connection, reliance and reflection between man and nature, specifically the trees.

The month of Shvat was chosen as it is the season in which the trees renew their fertility cycle. The name Shvat derives from the word “shevet”, meaning a branch. During this time of the year, the branches dance and beat at the great winds, bend under the raindrops or snow, break or flex, sometimes even stunned by lighting. Yet amidst this chaos, they begin lengthening, adding young green and delicate branches, the buds swell and new leaves and flowers grow and bloom, in preparation for fruit.

And how is fruit born? Just like a baby.

Every fruit develops from a flower (usually following pollination). After pollination, the flower changes: its petals, stamen and calyx wilt, and the fertilized cells divide and grow into the embryo – the seed. The embryo cells divide into tissue and organs of the seed (the radicle and plumule surrounding the endosperm – a food-hoarding tissue). In Hebrew, the first stage in the ripening of the fruit has a specific name: חנטה. When it begins, water and nutrients start arriving to the cells, and they rapidly divide and grow. The ovary grows, its walls thicken and the stem surrounding it becomes juicy and grows as the seeds develop within it. Usually you can see the remains of the sepals of the dried-up flower at the top of the fruit. This stage is extremely sensitive to weather change, strong winds and rain, as many tiny fruits can fall off the plant as a result.

When this stage ends, the fruit begins to ripen, and changes appear in its size, shape, scent, color, flavor, texture and softness. The fruit is the organ which contains the seeds, wrapping them in a juicy layer and peel. The fruit has a huge significance to the continuation of the plant, as here is where the plant’s “embryo” lies, protecting it and assisting it to spread the seed and become absorbed in the earth.

The sages of the Mishna declared the middle of the Shvat to mark the initiation of the tithe-giving year. Observing Nature closely, they came to realize that by Shvat, a large quantity of rain has fallen and as the days grow longer and spring approaches, the trees begin to mature חנטה and the fertilized flowers start turning into fruits. This awakening in Nature and the sweet promise it holds, coupled with fear and anxiety as to the fulfillment of this promise, turned Tu B’Shvat into a day of liturgy, special prayers and the celebration of the Lord’s abundance through nature, in a festive meal of local fruit, its juices and natural delicacies.

I love that poem by Avishai Cohen because it so beautifully expresses the tree’s utter existence, the security and the calm of its stability, rooted (but not stuck…), accepting, embodying contradiction, existing. This Tu B’Shvat, may we be blessed to enjoy renewal, change and the movement of this season: to open our eyes, take in the scents, listen to the rustling, and at the same time know how to simply extend our roots and branches and live.

Wishing us all a happy Tu B’Shvat, and the ability to weather any storm, any time!

Sending you much warmth,

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

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S RAINY TU B’SHVAT BOXES?

Monday: Broccoli, coriander/parsley/mint, tomatoes, lettuce, kale/spinach/Swiss chard, cucumbers, beets/cabbage, leeks/onions, potatoes/ sweet red peppers, celery/celeriac. Small boxes only: radishes/ baby radishes/turnips.

Large box, in addition: Fennel, baby greens (mesclun mix)/mustard greens, cauliflower, snow peas/carrots.

Wednesday: onions/leek, cucumbers, cilantro/parsley/mint, Swiss chard/kale/Chinese cabbage, tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, broccoli/cabbage/cauliflower, potatoes, celery/celeriac, small boxes: beets/fennel/radish/turnip.

Large box, in addition: baby greens (mesclun mix), spinach/New Zealand spinach, fava beans/snow peas/peppers, beets.

And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers: flour, fruits, honey, dates, almonds, garbanzo beans, crackers, probiotic foods, dried fruits and leathers, olive oil, bakery products and goat dairy too! You can learn more about each producer on the Chubeza website. On our order system there’s a detailed listing of the products and their cost, you can make an order online now!

!Aley Chubeza #185, January 13th-15th 2014 – Happy Tu B’Shvat

This week we are happy to welcome Pua’h and Oded of the “Meshek 42 Dairy” in Tal Shachar, who are now joining the circle of Chubeza’s associates in organic cottage industries. You will find information about Meshek 42 in your boxes, along with a description of their products. From next week, you will be able to order their goat milk products through our ordering system, for delivery in your boxes. Here is their story, in their words:

Meshek 42 is a family farm situated in Tal Shachar. Our farm is diverse: we grow goats for dairy products and we have a small dairy. In addition, we have an olive grove for olive oil and a small apiary. We also have a store on our farm where we sell our products, along with other quality products.

Chubeza members may now order a range of our dairy products for delivery with your vegetables.

A word about our goats and their pens: We founded the goat farm some seven years ago. The goats were meticulously handpicked after undergoing thorough health examinations. We wanted to start out with clean, disease-free goats. Ever since, we have been expanding our farm, specifically from “our” kids born there, for it is very hard to find animals that are totally disease-free.  The goats are vaccinated according to the government requirements.

The Goats are raised in a ventilated, comfortable pen. They eat a mixture of corn feed in small quantities, and hay which we grow ourselves, composed mainly of Graminae and some legumes we grow in our fields. Every couple of years or more, we fortify our farm’s feed by seeding such legumes as clover. The fields are not sprayed, and thus the goats eat a variety of plants and are not only restricted to one. In the months that the pasture is available, the goats go out to graze for breakfast and return to the pen for their evening milking.

Our method of care-giving is very clear: We strive to dispense as little medicine possible. Most problems can be solved in other ways. At times we will use medication, then wait three times the recommended period of wait until we take the goat back for milking.

The Milk- Two months before calving, we stop milking the pregnant goats in order to allow them to rest and build up their strength for the birth, to take care of the kids and produce milk. The kids nurse for two months and are then gradually weaned.

 Though they are indeed wild, it is fun to watch goats horsing around happily.

The Dairy- Here we use milk for all of our products, after pasteurization, of course. Over time, we’ve learned that each season is characterized by its own milk. We do not homogenize the milk or pasteurize for extended life shelf (ESL), so the milk changes, as do the various products.

What do we have in our farm now? We are currently in-between birthing seasons. One group of kids is running around our yard, while another group of expectant mother goats is preparing to give birth soon. At this time, our milk production is rather limited, but as winter advances, the quantity of milk will grow.

We can now offer you a limited variety of products, but as the milk yield grows, the range will increase.

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A comment/request regarding the ordering of sprouts and milk products:

Meshek 42 (goat milk products) and Maggie, the sprout wizard, request that you make your orders as much in advance as possible to allow them ample preparation time. It is best, of course, to make a standing order.

Thank you!

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Happy Birthday, Trees!

Here it comes, the Tree Birthday. Originally, it was a legal-Jewish date: the point in time when the fruits on the trees are considered this year’s fruit, as they must have grown from the rain and sun. (It’s been four-and-a-half months since the year began, after all.) But over the years, the date has become a celebration of Israeli homegrown fruit. In fact, it’s always nice to have a good reason to get together and enjoy local sweet, joyful produce, drink a little, sing a little and chat. So Chag Sameach to the fruits and trees!

In honor of Tu B’Shvat, I thought I would tell you a little about our fruit people: Helaf and the Menachem family from “Melo HaTene,” Kibbutz Samar in the Arava who grow our dates, and Hillel and the field crew of Ein Charod, who grow almonds.

Helaf Menachem and  the Melo HaTene Farm are in the neighboring “Karmei Yosef.” The Menachem family has created a beautiful, enchanted kingdom composed of a wide variety of orchards: plums, grapes, apples, figs, pomegranates, raspberries, strawberries, berries, loquat, passion fruit, guava, Annona squamosa (sugar apple), papayas and many others. And there are many. They also have an olive grove and olive press where they produce excellent organic olive oil, an apiary where they collect excellent honey, and if that isn’t enough, they also make amazing tehina, the best I’ve ever tasted. From the fruit surplus, they make liquors and sweet jams.

Watch this short film about them, and you are welcome to visit: you can arrange a tour, join the designated self-harvesting fests, and attend the occasional workshops. For questions and explanations, contact Helaf at

hilafmenahem@gmail.com, or at 050-7990097  or 08-9797039.

You can order their fruits for delivery in your Chubeza boxes. Check out our order system to see the many possibilities, updated every season.

Now take a few steps south (well, a little more than just a few), and there, in the southern Arava, not far from Eilat, the Samar Kibbutznikim grow organic dates. While they grow several types, the most “famous” is the Barhi- a super sweet, soft date called “the date toffee.” I think it’s so much more than toffee. Samar is a special and interesting Kibbutz in itself, and the story of the Barhi dates goes to prove how creative the people of Samar are.

I hope I’m getting this right. Here’s the story I heard from Gili of Samar a few years ago: The Barhi is usually grown to be eaten in its yellow, fresh, delicate and unripe state. The yellow dates are short-lived, and only available two months a year. Perhaps this is why the Barhi was not a commercial success, and the palm-tree-society recommended that Samar uproot their Barhi trees and replace them with a more marketable type.

But right before this happened, someone suggested treating the Barhi like a “regular” date, the type allowed to grow full term and then dried on a tree before harvesting. “What do we have to lose?” the Samar folk declared. “If it works, great. If not, we can always get rid of the orchard next year…” And, as Dr. Seuss said, “Oh, the places you’ll go!”  The Samar’s were off to a new start and a spectacular discovery of a distinctive date- soft and spreadable, super-sweet, with a hint of caramel.

Samar began marketing the Barhi direct to the consumers via cooperatives, small stores and small farms (like ourselves), with Gili managing the entire production. The rest is history. Two years ago I would explain to people about the Barhi. Now, they’re snatched up within a very short while, and I need to beg people to wait till the next date harvest. I love this story. It teaches us about the beauty and success of thinking out of the box, and about the treasures hidden under disobeying “professional” instructions, listening to the small voice within and being led by our imagination.

And for our last visit today, we head north to Ein Charod, in the Charod Valley. The Jezreel Valley has a prominent agricultural pioneer past, and a dignified present in the organic realm. Kibbutzim in the Jezreel and adjacent Beit She’an Valley were the first to turn to organic field crops, proving that even cotton, wheat and other “traditional” crops can be organic and successful.

The Ein Charod Meu’chad organic crops cover some 1,600 dunam (~400 acres) of wheat, hummus, corn, sunflowers and other produce, including almonds. Hillel, their organic field man, says that as a grandson of pioneers who arrived in Ein Charod in the 1920′s and became farmers and vineyard workers in the valley, he looks upon organic farming as part of the protection of the valley and its habitants and of the environment in general. Have a look at the way they plant organic olives in the groves. At the very end, there is a segment on the almonds. And so, despite being told that “organic almonds cannot be grown in Israel,” they decided to seize the gauntlet. The main challenges are in the area of plant protection, specifically when the almond leaf mites attack every spring, causing the trees to cry (and the crop growers along with them). This attack ends naturally at the end of April, when the trees undergo a process of recovery. The spring months are the most important for tree growth, which is why they are smaller than the trees that do not grow “organically,” and their yield is much smaller. To this day, there remains no solution for the mites, despite great efforts. At least with the remaining pests, the kibbutz deals quite well. The organic Ein Charod almonds are harvested in the modern shaking alignment and sent to be shelled. The final sorting and packaging is carried out at Ein Charod.

You should know that the Israeli almond is considered to be tastier and healthier than almonds imported from California, thanks to the varieties of almonds developed in Israel. Despite their smaller yield, they are of a superior quality.

Aren’t you getting hungry after all this talk? So prepare yourselves a dish of Israeli fruit—from next week, you’ll be able to add yogurt from Meshek 42 and Tamir’s honey. Bon Appétit!

From all of us at Chubeza– Alon, Bat Ami, Maya, Dror and the rest of the Chubeza team–Chag Sameach to all the trees, fruits, fields, and farmers! We wish you all great health and happiness!

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Coriander/arugula, Jerusalem artichoke/potatoes, kohlrabi/fennel, tomatoes, broccoli, daikon/radishes, leeks, cucumbers, carrots, broccoli leaves, cauliflower/cabbage,

In the large box, in addition: Beets/turnips, scallions, snow peas/fava beans/garden peas

Wednesday: broccoli greens/kale, daikon/radishes, cucumbers, broccoli/cauliflower, cilantro/parsley, potatoes, Jerusalem artichoke/carrots, kohlrabi/fennel, cabbage, leeks/scallions, tomatoes.

In the large box, in addition: turnips/beets, spinach, red sweet peppers

This week, we’ll be including broccoli greens in your boxes. Usually we only pick the broccoli heads and leave the leaves in the field. Now, after the broccoli’s harvested, we’re sharing some of its fresh greens with you.

Here it’s not customary to eat broccoli greens, but in Italy or in the Far East, there are broccoli varieties grown specifically for their leaves, their leaves are picked when they are young and tender. They are frequent additions to pasta or stir-fry dishes. The broccoli greens in your boxes are mature leaves. Use them as you would use mustard greens or Swiss chard, but note that they are thicker and must be cooked longer (similar to kale). They are highly nutritious, rich in vitamins (A, B-complex and C) and in minerals (iron and calcium).

And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers: flour, sprouts, fruits, honey, dates, almonds, crackers, probiotic foods, dried fruits and leathers, olive oil, bakery products, pomegranate juice and goat dairy goods too! You can learn more about each producer on the Chubeza website. On our order system there’s a detailed listing of the products and their cost, you can make an order online now!

Aley Chubeza #102 – January 6th-8th 2012, Tu Bishvat!

HAPPY TU B’SHVAT TU YOU!

May it be Your will, O God, who has made us responsible for the deeds of our hands, that this tree will live and grow and bear fruit in peace;
May You guide us in the paths of peace
and give us the insight to see Your Image in every human being
Guide us all “to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8)
and help us realize that we were not brought into this world for conflict and dissension, nor hatred, jealousy, harassment or bloodshed.
Rather, we were brought into this world in order to recognize You, may You be blessed forever.”
(R. Nachman of Bratzlav)

Shvat is a great month, and one that’s so much fun to discuss, especially during such a rainy season. The word Shvat originated in Babylonian and Accadian, meaning “a stick” or staff, perhaps signifying the rain and storms that seem as if they’re striking the earth (as I write this, I can almost hear the loud rain pounding on our packing-house this last Wednesday, making it impossible to hear each other as we packed your boxes). The other meaning of Shvat is the delicate facet of the word, that of a branch beginning its growth anew. Thanks to the rains that have fallen and the days growing longer, the branches develop buds and begin to bloom and grow new leaves. According to tradition, the Biblical flood ended in Shvat, and the dove Noah dispatched brought back a young olive branch, taut and fresh from a newly blossoming tree.

In the middle of this month, Mishnaic scholars decided to set the start of the year for the tree’s tithe. Observing nature closely, they noticed that most of the seasonal rains have already fallen by this date. Thus, as the days grow longer and spring approaches, the trees begin to ripen as the flowers become fruit. This awakening in nature and the sweet promise it proclaims made Tu B’Shvat a day to sing about, offer special prayers and celebrate God’s abundance by rejoicing in nature. And of course, celebrations call for food, and what better meal than one consisting of fruits of the earth, its most natural confectionary?

There is something magical about eating fruit to celebrate the tree from which it grows. Biting into a luscious fruit is tasting the sweet, thirst-quenching present, but sensing the memories of its past: the rain and sun that caressed the tree, watered its roots and made the buds peek out of the branches; the wildlife who brushed against its trunk and climbed it; the birds who built nests among its branches, the bees merrily buzzing, the flies and other pollinators who hovered over its blooms, transferring pollen from flower to flower, and the ripening- that magical moment when the pollination fertilizes and a new little fetus of a fruit is created. And in the midst of all this sweetness and juice is the seed, the hard, serious heart of the light-headed, seductive fruit, in which the future lies: the next tree, its branches, leaves, flowers and fruit, the sun, winter, rain; the hammock that will be hung from its boughs, the tree house that will be built at its crown, and of course, the joyful band of wildlife that will surround it.

The stages of a nectarine’s ripening over seven-and-a-half months.

This beautiful holiday is very local and dependent on the climate of this country, and the warmth we already feel in the air. Ask the Europeans who are shivering from the cold or the North Americans attempting in vain to defrost their frozen hands in the warm glow of a very cold Valentine’s Day. Even the Mexicans, whose weather forecast varies from “hot” to “very hot” all year long, or the Thais, who move from extreme “wet” to “dry” will not understand my girls’ glee as they discover another almond tree in bloom along our route to school. This is definitely a local Israeli celebration, observed only in the beloved and thin slice of country between sea, mountain and desert. This is exactly the localness Melissa wrote about in last year’s newsletter, and because I feel it is important, I hope you don’t mind if I include it again:

Over the years, I’ve gone crazy watching the mass import of dried fruits for Tu B’Shvat. I worked for the Ministry of Agriculture for 15 years, and they like to call Tu B’Shvat “The Holiday of Agriculture.” The minister sends greetings to all the workers, and in good years we held group tree-plantings. During the (sabbatical) year of Shmita we received an ornamental plant. Last year we received a plate full of pathetic dried fruits, all imported, except for the dates (forbidden for import with pits.) I didn’t even open it, I was so disappointed.

The whole reason for dried fruits originated when Jews living in the vast Diaspora could not acquire fresh fruits from Israel, and thus made do with (very) dried Israeli fruits. In my childhood in American Jewish schools, we suffered every year with the tasteless dried fruit treat brought to us from Israel, served with Zionistic flare. We called it “the boxer,” which I know today was (“bokser” in Yiddish) a carob. What I didn’t know was how tasty it is when fresh and crispy.

And then I immigrated to Israel, where we are bombarded on Tu B’Shvat with imported dried fruits, mostly of poor quality. What value is there to eating dried fruits on Tu B’Shvat, when the whole point is to celebrate Nature’s New Year with fruit from Israel? Today, when you can acquire fresh Israeli fruit all year round, there is no reason to eat imported dry fruits! It totally negates the spirit of this holiday. The agricultural holiday? Where is our national pride? Love of our country? Support of local products and environmental values?

This Tu B’Shvat, I would like to start a public protest against the imported dried fruit regimen. Instead, let us truly support and encourage the farmers of this country who grow fresh fruits, dates and almonds, raisin products and more. So it’s time for a grass-roots (or tree-roots) effort to spring into action! What is your opinion?

With love of the land and its wonderful fruits, Melissa

This year I asked Melissa to contribute something new for our Tu B’Shvat newsletter. I wanted to hear about her philosophy of making dry fruits from her cottage industry, Mipri Yadeha. I wanted to get a glimpse into the world of those who intimately know the fruit, who wash, peel, core, slice, squeeze, mix, spice, taste, smear and dry, slice, pack and personally decorate them, with all of their heart. Handcraft is really a work that involves a lot of thinking, the kind that accompanies manual, technical work. These are some of Melissa’s musings, as always, interesting and eye-opening. From a person who yields the most from a fruit by preserving it, Melissa wrote these concise yet comprehensive words:

Melissa’s manifesto on matters of dried fruit and sundry
recognize good
now concentrate
preserve it
avoid waste
and unnecessary additives
less is more
make the best of what you have
enough is enough
try new
whistle while you work
hum
drum
share
always
and
watch your fingers
count them a blessing
there is nothing like nature
thank the trees
be fruitful
in all

A joyful Tu B’Shvat, full of all the best,
Alon, Bat Ami and a happy Chubeza crowd

________________________________

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

In honor of Tu B’Shvat, we’ve decided to enclose some fruit of the tree: delicious avocados! Enjoy them in good health!

Monday: potatoes, fennel or daikon, green or red cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, Dutch cucumbers, sweet red peppers, lettuce, parsley, avocado

In the large box, in addition: leeks, beets, fava beans

Wednesday: lettuce, daikon or radishes, cauliflower or red cabbage or green cabbage, broccoli, parsley, red peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes, celeriac or parsley root, avocadoes

In the large box, in addition: fava beans or red beets, green garlic, cilantro

TU B’SHVAT RECIPES—VEGETABLES, FRUIT, AND LOTS OF SWEETNESS

7 Species Salad (Salat Shivat HaMinim)

Broccoli Salad

Red Cabbage and Pears