Aley Chubeza #191, March 3rd-5th 2014 – Happy month of Adar!

Over the past weekend, our online order system was upgraded. On the surface, it resembles the previous version, except for some minor changes: the order page looks slightly different, and when you click “end order” after you’ve finished your shopping, there is an additional step where you must click “send order” to complete your order. We also encourage you to use the order system to inform us of any changes in your regular delivery, which is a great boon to our efficiency. We will happily guide you in using the system and to solve any problems that might arise.

We did prepare for this change, but of course, beginnings are always difficult. There may still be bugs or minor changes which will surface over the next few days. Please be patient with us, inform us of any problems, and accept the limitations of technology. We promise to listen and eliminate any bug (organically, of course…).

Once again, thank you Amir, our loyal programmer who has worked so hard to improve our system and make it more efficient. This is hard, complex work, and Amir is always around to help, explain, and save us. The Chubeza staff and members thank him profusely.

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In two weeks’ time, Purim is scheduled to joyfully arrive. In order for us to prepare for harvest day, the order system will close down for Monday changes (Shushan Purim) earlier than usual– by Thursday, 9:00 PM. This will enable us to prepare on Friday. Please, please do not send in late requests. On Sunday we will be unavailable by email or phone. Please let us know of any orders or changes in your boxes ahead of time—-and have a wonderful Purim celebration!

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Melissa from Mipri Yadeha is preparing a special, creative line of yummy products for Mishlochei Manot:

  • § The Scroll of Esther–distinctive, hand-fashioned leather scrolls in a royal package: fruit leather in select flavors: peach, clementine, apple-ginger, persimmon-carrot, guava, pomegranate, apple-date, orange-apple and more. 10 NIS per scroll.

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About heavy haze, no rain, and… happiness

This week began with a heavy haze. In the late afternoon on Sunday it was hard to spot the olive orchard at the end of our packing house. A dirty, dusty cloud of haze sat on us and choked our souls. Unusually, the field was dry and thirsty in the morning, unlike previous mornings when the dew dampens the leaves and the field is fresh and awake. It feels like the weather, with its “no rain” decree, has decided to take it one step further and dump a dusty heat wave upon us.

Still, it’s the month of Adar, so we must be happy…?

The yucky weather made me think of half-full and empty glasses, and about the dictate to be happy. Can you even command someone to be happy? Maybe it’s a matter of character. There are those who come into this world full of happiness and a positive outlook, while others are naturally pessimistic. Or is it about choosing the right glasses to look through? Do we look at the dusty pane and get upset about not being able to see the horizon, or do we enjoy the many varieties of green we can see up close, in the nearby field?

Sure, the no-rain situation is very worrisome. We are irrigating, and every time there’s rain predicted, we hope for a major rainstorm. But by the time the clouds reach our field, they are already exhausted and empty. If we’re lucky they share a last, lame drizzle. And yet, the dampness in the air is great, and every morning the field is full of dew that delights our vegetables. The storm we experienced at the beginning of winter is already so far behind, but it did saturate the earth to the extent that even a small amount of irrigation meets underground moisture that is sufficient for the greens.

The dry weather is good for the peas, fava beans and other crops that usually suffer from too much water and dampness. And the healing sun provides the vegetables with strength and vitality. So, despite our great sorrow and craving for a real winter, and despite the many just complaints, there is also a good side to this winter. Then again, we can get upset about the sun encouraging the weeds to take over the field…

And that’s how it is with happiness. It’s not that reality is void of happy events, but that these happy events carry a measure of sad and painful sides as well, which we tend to amplify at times. This week we had visitors at our field from the permaculture course. When I told them how we started Chubeza and how I dared to fulfill my dream, I mentioned that this happened shortly after my return from California, where I was so full of the American confidence and faith that you can make a dream come true. Thankfully, I started to work as soon as I got back, because had I waited just a few more months, the Israeli cynicism and criticism would have probably paralyzed me, and Chubeza would never have happened.

It’s not that Americans or Israelis are right or wrong about the way they view reality. Dreams do not always come true, but sometimes they do. There’s a little bit of this, and a little bit of that. When we plant a wide variety of vegetables in the field at different times and rounds, some are a great success, and some fail miserably. The question is- what do we remember, how happy are we with the success, and how sorry are we about what didn’t work? Do we get really upset when the plant nursery sends us chicory instead of lettuce by mistake, or do we treat this as an opportunity to try something we would have never dared to try (and probably won’t in the future…)?

Yochai and Dotan from the charming organic field in Kibbutz HaMa’apil told me about a mistake some of their amateur workers had made by erroneously planting a double amount of cauliflower plants, half of which were intended for elsewhere, and leaving no room in the bed for the broccoli plants. So they ended up not growing any broccoli in that round, but the cauliflower turned out so yummy and beautiful that at some point they were thrilled with that mistake. So it’s a question of the way you look at things, at the half-full or empty glass, at choosing sorrow or happiness.

In order to be organic farmers, sometimes we simply have to wear those pink glasses. So much is in the hand of nature, and every once in awhile we have to accept the fact that a bed drowned in a sea or weeds not cleared in time, that we have absolutely no way to protect the little ones from the stings of the lesser pumpkin fly, that the leek is once again struck by a fungus or that the neighborhood dogs romped in our fields and tore the cover we’d spread over the greens. We acknowledge and constantly experience our limited control over what takes place in the field, and must decide how to respond to failures, mistakes or unforeseen and unknown problems. Should we be upset and despair, or take a long look at the field and see all the good that is still within it, focus on new vegetables we’re trying out and note how beautifully they are growing, and be happy with the plenty our field is yielding and how lucky we are to work in a place such as this.

So, although the haziness hid the wonderful abundance of the field and the surrounding nature, and though we coughed a lot to clear the dust from our throats, and though the dryness upset the plants already addicted to their daily dew portion, perhaps it came to remind us that sometimes beauty, abundance and diversity are hiding in the dark, concealed, or covered. The question is if we work hard to find them when we’re sure they’re there, and if we convince ourselves that something must, simply must, improve soon.

May we have a happy, hopeful month of Adar, full of half-full glasses (preferably brimming with rain…)!

Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Maya and the Chubeza team, praying for a v’nahafochu rainstorm.

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Broccoli/cauliflower, fennel/ daikon, lettuce, tomatoes, kohlrabi/ beets, cucumbers, coriander/parsley, carrots, garden peas/snow peas. Small boxes only: celery, purple or white cabbage

Large box, in addition: Kale, leeks, fava beans, dill, potatoes.

Wednesday: carrots, fennel/daikon, cucumbers, parsley, fava beans, snow peas/garden peas, kohlrabi/beets, lettuce, mizuna/pac-choi, tomatoes, small box: broccoli/cauliflower.

Large box, in addition: leek, dill/cilantro, celery, cabbage/cauliflower, broccoli

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 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!

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