Aley Chubeza #62, March 28-30 2011

Spring messages: Pesach delivery changes: During Chol HaMoed Pesach, there will be no delivery. Wednesday recipients will not receive boxes on April 20th, and Monday recipients will not be receiving on April 25th. Consequently:

• Monday recipients will receive boxes on the following dates: Sunday, April 17th, Monday May 2. • Wednesday recipients will receive boxes on the following dates: April 13th, April 27th. • Bi-weekly recipients: Because of Pesach week, you will have a three-week delivery gap. To rearrange your delivery dates to avoid this gap, please contact me ASAP.

If you wish to increase the contents of your box for the Holiday, please contact me ASAP!

In accordance with Chubeza tradition, we invite you to set out for your “pilgrimage” and celebrate with us on our Open Day at Chubeza. This year’s celebration will take place on Thursday, April 21, the 17th of Nisan (during Chol Ha’Moed). Stay tuned for a full schedule of activities. __________________________________________ Last-time-before-Pesach orders for Yiftah’s bi-weekly baking are being received now. Please send your orders by Friday. Yiftah finishes preparing and baking the loaves next Wednesday, and they will be delivered in the boxes of April 6th and 11th. You can order Yiftah’s hand-baked, sprouted breads via our order form or via email/telephone. _________________________

“And all the rest goes on as usual in this country, which appears to die in our arms with winter, and come back to life in spring. An incorrect perception and gross mistake of the senses, for the force of spring would be nil, were it not for winter’s sleep.” Jose Saramago

Over the past few days I’ve been getting the feeling that summer’s already here, just occasionally hiding out under a blanket of clouds and rain. At night it can be very cold, and the early morning is wet and chilly. But by afternoon when the sun comes out, it suddenly becomes so hot that a lost, scorched memory of summer begins to defrost. In our field, our namesake the chubeza (mallow) plant is bearing fruit. The air is filled with the intoxicating scents of blooming, and fluttering with the movement of birds, insects and other animals that were either hibernating or just slowed down during wintertime and are now born anew. If you open your eyes, you will notice many a sign of spring: birds of many feathers in flight overhead during this season (I am especially humored by the partridge that plays a mean game of “chicken” with our tractor), ladybug pupae ready to hatch in a few days, and even a gentle show of tiny holes in our leaves, left by hungry flying insects.

Our harvest list is another sign, even though winter vegetables still appear on the roster: broccoli, cauliflower, root vegetables, fennel, garlic, carrot and peas. Yet a walk through the field reveals a marked change in its demeanor, now becoming springier and more summery. In no time, spring will be in full burst. This process begins in the depths of winter, from the beginning of February. We stop planting at the end of December, and in January the field is almost totally void of seeding and planting, resting comfortably through the great cold. At the beginning of February, the first spring plants arrive: tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant and pumpkin. These plants are placed into the still cold, wintry earth. To urge them on, we tuck them in by covering the earth with protective sheets (made of corn starch), and spreading a clear protective plastic atop the sheets to retain warmth.

February’s planting is twofold: another round of coriander, dill, daikon, radishes, potatoes and beets; plus new spring additions of tomatoes, zucchini, eggplants, pumpkins, cucumber and onions. Last year we were disappointed by the onion seeds, which refused to cooperate and sprout. We thought the mood swings of spring were liable: first the heavy rains that washed away the earth, and then at a second trial, the oppressive heat wave. Either way, the onions simply did not grow. This year we are happy to report a nice show of sprouting. For our part, we’re attempting to protect the young, growing plants from the onion flies that lay their eggs in the bulb and terminate it. Going on the offensive, we planted traps in the onion beds, yellow glue-covered boards that attract flies to their color that then get stuck. This, of course, is not a foolproof solution. As organic farmers, we are experienced in paying our tithe to the field insects, but this fly-trap ammo does give us a fighting chance to reduce the fly population and save most of the onion crop.

In March, we carry out the second round of planting and seeding. There’s a second round of tomato and zucchini, plus the addition of melons to the pioneer group of crops. Then, a second round of cucumbers, coriander, dill, radishes, onions and beets, plus the first round of pumpkins, fakkus and green beans. What a field day for the field! As Adar makes way for the month of Nissan, we start yet another round: the sweet corn is planted in the earth alongside popcorn, more green beans, fakkus, cucumbers and zucchini, as well as our first winter squashes: the dalorit, curry and spaghetti squash.

This early seeding of spring crops at the end of winter is very important. The plants receive the last winter rains, which is particularly significant in this year of very late rains.  I remain enchanted by the simplicity with which wonderful thirst-quenching raindrops fall from the heavens so easily, bountifully, freely, naturally… And although we have already learned to successfully sprout via drip irrigation systems and hoses, there is a huge difference between the effortless, nonchalant sprouting by rain and the incredible efforts involved in watering the crops artificially. Growing early in the spring is also beneficial for avoiding virus and insect attacks. Perhaps you noticed the abundance of the Cucurbita family (cucumber, fakkus, squash, pumpkin, watermelon and melon). This is because this delicious, friendly family fights off different viruses at our farm every year, specifically the Cucurbita fly that lays its eggs in the nice, soft fruits the plants managed to grow. The end of wintertime and beginning of spring are seasons when the viruses and pesky flies linger, but the plants are able to happily and efficiently grow under the plastic, their improvised hothouse.

And lastly, we hope this early timing of spring crops will fill up the boxes during the upcoming transition period, when we find ourselves surrounded by beds that have finished their yield and those that still need a few weeks to ripen. At this point, the zucchinis are actually ripening, as well as the cucumbers that made an early arrival this year. What fun! Indeed, these are difficult, complex times in which we live: stress on our southern front, danger and disaster in Japan, and riots in Arab countries. Yet amidst all these perils, the seasons forge on, and spring is busting out all over. Miriam from Rishon L’Zion wrote me these encouraging words which I’ll share: “You know, when you wake up in the morning and the sun is shining, or the rain falls upon us, and we stand on our feet – these are good days. Always look at the full half of your cup and be grateful – these are good days.”

Wishing you a happy spring and good days, Alon, Melissa, Bat Ami and the Chubeza team _____________________ And What’s in this Week’s Still-Winter Boxes?

Monday:  lettuce, peas, parsley, green garlic, cauliflower, fennel, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, coriander, celeriac In the large box, in addition: fava beans, broccoli, leeks, dill

Note: In Monday’s large boxes, the dill is a “bonus” we’ve sent. This particular dill is from a bed that we had to pick early, due to last week’s cold snap. Even though it’s not up to our usual standard, it will be tasty and fine if you use it quickly. Do not store. Wednesday: cilantro, parsley, cucumbers, green garlic, tomatoes, carrots, cauliflower, lettuce, peas or fava beans, Swiss chard, small boxes: fennel or broccoli In the large box, in addition: fennel and broccoli, celeriac or parsley root, leek

And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers of these organic products: granola and cookies, flour, sprouted bread, sprouts, goat cheeses, fruits, honey, crackers. You can learn more about each producer on the Chubeza website. The attached order form includes a detailed listing of the products and their cost. Fill it out, and send it back to us to begin your delivery soon. ____________________________ End of the Winter Recipes:

Sometimes mistakes turn out to be beneficial. Ornit’s box contained fennel, despite her request to replace it with a different vegetable. She decided to take up the gauntlet and find a recipe for the unwanted fennel. The result was a soup so tantalizing that the diners licked their lips. And you win, as well! Here’s the recipe: Cream of Fennel Soup (from 1,000 Vegan Recipes by Robin Robertson) 1 T olive oil 1 med onion, chopped 1  large fennel bulb with fronds, chopped 1 large russet or Yukon Gold potato, 1/2-inch pieces 3  cups vegetable broth 1/2  cup frozen peas 1/2  t. dried tarragon 1  t. fresh lemon juice salt and pepper 1 cup plain unsweetened soy milk (optional) In large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion, fennel and potato. Cover and cook until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 min.  Add broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until vegetables are tender, about 30 min.  Stir in the peas and tarragon and cook 5 min longer. Puree soup, stir in lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. (We thought it tasted better without the soy milk – it just thinned out the flavor.)

Seasoning-Herb Salad (by Debbie from Kibbutz Gezer) 1 package dill 1 package parsley ¼ package nana (mint), leaves only, and/or basil and/or oregano and/or coriander, washed and chopped Sunflower seeds, shelled, and chopped almonds or shelled and sliced—Roast in oven or pan. Dressing: Juice of one small lemon Olive oil, 2/3 the quantity of the lemon juice 1-2 T. pomegranate juice concentrate (if unsweetened, add 1 T. sugar) Trace of balsamic vinegar Salt and white pepper