!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.


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!


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

[email protected], 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!


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!