Reminder: This week Monday’s box arrived Sunday, May 8th. The Wednesday box schedule remains as usual.
A Birthday Wish
The State of Israel is celebrating 63 this year, and over the past week I’ve been thinking what wishes I would like to bestow upon her to mark the occasion. Working in the vegetable garden at my daughter Netta’s kindergarten gave me an answer. In advance of summer, the children cleaned the garden of winter’s remnants and readied it for summer plants. When we tried to determine what we would plant, I remembered America’s special “Three Sisters” trio: beans, corn and squash. Archeologists have found remains of ancient bean, maize (corn) and squash seeds in Peruvian and Mexican agricultural antiquities. When they questioned native farmers, they were told that ancient tradition dictates growing the three crops together. Each of the threesome contributes to and is assisted by the other, enriching them all to flourish.
This three sister tradition was common in North and Central America, but is said to have originated with the Iroquois tribes (their English name; in their own language they refer to themselves as Haudenosaunee’s- people of the longhouse). This is a group of five nations situated in the northeast U.S.A., specifically in New England, New York, Pennsylvania and South Canada– Quebec and South Ontario. These Native Americans believed that corn, beans and squash are precious gifts from the Great Spirit, each watched over by one of three sister guardian spirits, called the De-o-ha-ko, or “Our Sustainers.” The three sisters were inseparable: they were planted together, eaten together and celebrated together.
The three sisters are an example of the “companion planting” method, composing a “guild” (a permaculture term): a group of organisms – plants, animals, micro-organisms etc. – which exist close to one another and work particularly well together. Each one contributes its own virtues (in plants, for example: protection against diseases, attraction of pollinators or other predator beneficial insects, providing food and minerals, accumulating water, providing shade, cover and more). In addition to saving water and space by such an arrangement, the plants become stronger, and their stock improves and grows well.
What are the benefits of the Three Sister guild? Corn has a strong stalk that grows tall, providing a natural trellis for bean vines to climb, making sunshine more accessible to the upwardly mobile bean. Sunrays can efficiently reach both plants, because the bean leaves grow in the opposite direction from the corn’s. In addition, corn loves nitrogen, which it takes from the earth in large quantities. Here, its bean sister lends a helping hand. As a member of the legume family, she knows the art of fixing nitrogen on her roots, improving the overall fertility of the plot by providing nitrogen to the neighboring plants. Climbing bean vines also help stabilize the corn plants, making them less vulnerable to being blown over by the wind. Shallow-rooted squash vines (or any other member of the gourd family, such as cucumbers, melons, etc.) become a living mulch, shading emerging weeds and preventing soil moisture from evaporating, thereby improving the overall crops’ chances of survival in dry conditions. As corn has long, narrow leaves, its foliage doesn’t bother the squash. Spiny squash plants keep predators from approaching the corn and beans. Thus the three sisters live and prosper in perfect harmony.
Corn, beans and squash also complement each other nutritionally. Corn provides carbohydrates and amino acids, and like other grains, goes perfectly with legumes like beans, rich in protein, balancing the lack of two essential amino acids found in corn. Finally, squash yields vitamin A and rich oils (in its seeds) that the other two sisters lack
How to Plant a Three Sister Garden: Start with the corn, seeding it at a distance of 10-15 cm apart. This can be done in a raised mound or on flat earth. When the corn sprouts are approximately 10 centimeters high, near each corn plant, seed two to three seeds of one of the summer creeping plants, like lubia, Thai beans, black beans and others. Near them, at a space of five fingers, seed some gourds: melon, watermelon, pumpkin or cucumber. When these grow, an extraordinarily fertile wild mixed thicket will emerge, stocked to the brim with delicious summer vegetables.
It looks something like this:
Thus, my birthday wishes to our young State, inspired by the Three Sisters, begins with beauty and bountiful growth. But—may the nation not forget to continue to grow sustainable agriculture. Despite the lack of earth and water, this can be achieved. May Israel not forget the wisdom of the local native culture, nor forget to respect and give room to the Palestinians living alongside us, continuing to make attempts at reciprocal and common dwelling. May all of us really believe and listen to the voices telling us that togetherness is good, that diversity is essential, that living together does not mean living at each other’s expense. On the contrary, may we learn to live together, combined, adjacent. This is strengthening, enriching and improving the other and the self, resulting in a beautiful, enriched and thriving State of Israel.
Wishing us all a delicious holiday, filled with happiness, hope and camaraderie,
Alon, Bat Ami and the Chubeza team
What’s in this Week’s Boxes?
Monday: lettuce, Swiss chard, cilantro or parsley, leeks, cabbage, celery, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, zucchini, beets
In the large box, in addition: kohlrabi, scallions, radishes
Wednesday: squash, beet, cucumbers, Swiss chard, tomatoes, carrots, parsley, celeriac, lettuce, cabbage, small boxes: leeks or scallions
In the large box, in addition: potatoes, New Zealand spinach, leeks, scallions.
The squash is a quick-growing vegetable and, therefore, needs to be frequently picked (every day or two). Due to the holiday this week, we missed a day, thus resulting in quite big squash/zucchinis. You will each be receiving in your boxes the addition of one oversized squash as an ex(ample) – please exercise utmost gravity in handling – Bon Appetit!
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.