Aley Chubeza #9 – February 22-24 2010

A few messages: We will commence with a few words about one of our very devoted volunteers, Rachel Ben Chaim, who for the past year has reported every Monday, rain or shine, to put in a long workday.

Rachel is a Chi Kung instructor. For those of you unfamiliar with Chi Kung (or  Qì Gōng), this internal Chinese meditative practice incorporates slow, graceful movements and controlled breathing techniques to promote the circulation of chi (energy) within the human body, and enhance overall health. The conscious movement promotes inner calm, a good physical feeling and clear thought. The practice is simple and deep and can be adapted for all.

rachelThe practice generates changes in everyday life, in a broader sense: letting go, going with the flow. Chi Kung is appropriate for those who suffer from lack of energy and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS and FMS).

More details can be viewed here. From our acquaintance with Rachel, I can assure you that meeting with her will be an interesting, pleasant and professional experience. She can also be reached by phone at 052-3905694.


And on a different, delectable note, we are pleased to introduce you to Yiftach’s Bread. I met Yiftach through Einat from Tel Aviv, a veteran client who discovered his bread and fell in love. And rightfully so, because it is a very unique product: sprouted spelt bread. The flyer he included with his bread is a paean to this special food, as you see:

Yiftach’s sprouted spelt bread is made of first-rate organic spelt grains that are sprouted in mineral water in a controlled and meticulous manner. They are ground by a special technique with natural sea salt from the Atlantic Ocean, without any additional flour, fat, sugar, yeast or leaven. The handmade loaves are baked at a low temperature. These elements combine to provide you with a primary loaf of bread, rich with the flavors of grains and fields, deeply fragrant and earthly-textured, tempting the palate and imagination and heightening the experience of savoring bread.

For further information, refer to Yiftach’s flyer, included in your box this week, and in an electronic form here.

Yiftach bakes his bread every two weeks. The process of sprouting and baking is a long, complex one, so it is recommended to order the bread a week in advance. To make it easier for you to calculate your order, Yiftach has prepared a table you can view here. For questions and orders (the first order can be made until this Friday, February 26), please contact me at 054-6535980 or by email.  


And one last reminder: don’t miss our “gather and cook” session at Chubeza, led by Uri Mayer Chissik on Friday, March 5 at 9:00 AM.

We will begin with a round of introduction to edible wild plants and then proceed with a wild-plant cooking workshop.

Duration of workshop: 3 hours.   Cost for the tour, workshop and meal: 140 NIS per person, or 200 NIS per family.

Places limited– please register without delay! For details and registration: [email protected] or contact Uri at 04-6063699


Venahafochu – A Heat Wave in the Heart of Winter

The past two weeks have been surprisingly hot days, especially since this is the middle of February! I heard on the radio that this has been the longest winter heat wave in 70 years! Where are the days of snow in Jerusalem on Purim? Of long underwear under rain soaked costumes? Of little Japanese parasols that become umbrellas and Indians with wet feathers? The optimistic weather report calls for a wintry Purim. Let’s hope…

We were divided in our attitude towards this heat wave. Some of us were happy (Lobsang, who recalled the blazing summer days when he nailed posts in the unrelenting Israeli sun, singing as he worked) and those who reflected with a shudder on how hot it will turn in four to five months (Alon Gilad kept mumbling, “We’ll sure miss this heat wave in August.”) I was very upset by the dryness, and deeply disappointed to have to turn on the watering system, as if we’d pulled out too early from some race that challenged our mettle to keep the sprinklers closed…

The field, too, was a little stunned by the fierce heat and dryness. As mentioned, we were forced to turn on the sprinklers, for the first time in three or four months. After a week of this heat, it became clear that the young plants needed water (the older ones already have deep roots and are able to reach the water that has accumulated at ground-level). Our new plants and the potatoes, that only entered the earth a week before the last storm, had to be watered 3-4 times weekly. The onions, planted in the hope that plentiful rains would encourage its growth, had to make do with artificial watering. On the other hand, it enjoyed the heat and began sprouting. Here and there we noticed a thin string, indicating a seed that bloated from the water and sent out its brave cotyledon (sprout, first leaf) to scout out the scene in the outside world.

Another spring sowing that was completed just before the rain was the zucchini. Our first zucchinis are the Baladi, introduced to us by Mohammed several years ago. These are the chubby, striped, delicious zucchini some of you recall from last year. They are planted first, in the beginning of February. Because, however, the planting should actually take place in the midst of wintertime, we mulch to warm it and cover the garden-bed with nylon row cover, creating a sort of warming tunnel. Sometimes it’s difficult to germinate the seeds due to an excess of rain during this time of the year. As you can probably guess, this year it was not a problem. We gave them a 10-minute drip every two days, and that sufficed. Many beautiful sprouts are already peeking out through the warm vapors that fill the little hothouse. Welcome!

Winter vegetables, on the other hand, are not exactly enjoying the dryness and heat, as you can see in your boxes. The cauliflower, cabbage, fennel and broccoli are smaller than their rain-swelled brothers of a month and two months back. The dryness is hard for them, the artificial watering doesn’t compare to the generosity of rain, and though the plants are holding in there, they are certainly not at their best. The heat, too, is hard on them. We laud their efforts, and join them in prayer that the rain comes this weekend.

The rest of the field is entering the spring regime: the agrils were removed from the leafy vegetables, a new plot was turned over, a new transport of chicken manure arrived and will soon be spread, and the pumpkin plots have been prepared, with a generous stripe of chicken manure in the center, mixed with the damp clods of earth. This week and next week we plan to plant our pumpkins, the Provence pumpkins and the precious Tripolian pumpkin. With them, we will sow their esteemed cousins, the Faccus, the cucumbers and the zucchinis. Spring is in the air!

Last Wednesday you started receiving green garlic. Green garlic is actually regular garlic that is picked a little earlier, at its younger stage. Its leaves are green, and it is not so pungent, though very special. This is a good opportunity to introduce you to an earlier stage of this great vegetable, and an opportunity for us to avoid spraying the garlic. Garlic is particularly vulnerable to an attacking fungus, and organic prevention dictates spraying it with a copper mixture. Copper is a natural mineral, which is why it is permitted for use in organic farming (albeit with caution, as it has a high level of toxicant.) For us, spraying with copper would be like failing ourselves: we strive to maintain a delicate balance between beneficial insects (carnivores) and vegetarian insects (who eat our vegetables) to keep the ecosystem strong and secure, and copper threatens the balance by harming to many insects. Thus we prefer to pick garlic earlier and offer it to you in form of green garlic.

green garlic

So far this year, most of the garlic is growing nicely, and the plots are relatively clean. We hope to wait as long as possible and pick as much of this great garlic, which will be dried in the field and stored in ventilated baskets in the packing shed for distribution to you during springtime and summer. The green garlic can be used for its green leaves/stems: use 6-15 cm of the base of the stem, from the part that’s closer to the head, which is particularly tasty and lush. Like the leek, the stem of the green garlic can catch earth between its leaves, so wash them well before use. Green garlic can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Like dry garlic, green garlic has a host of versatile uses: chopped and added to salads, made into spreads, added to sauces, blanched, lightly sautéed, added to omelets, bread dough, soup, quiches, etc. One stem of green garlic is equivalent to one or two cloves of dry garlic.

And some general information about garlic: long before its renowned virtue as a vampire repellent, garlic was used throughout the world. It is mentioned in the Bible, in Confucius’ Chinese writing, and for Chinese rituals. In Egypt, too, garlic achieved a laudable stature, and the pyramid-building slaves were fed lots of garlic– which they couldn’t seem to forget (“we remember… the onions and garlic” Numbers, 11:5). The Vikings and Phoenicians never embarked upon a voyage without stocking up on garlic. The Greeks gave great credence to garlic’s many virtues. Aristophanes recommended garlic to athletes and soldiers to bolster their courage. Garlic is said to banish evil: decking your door with wreaths of garlic will ward off witches and vampires. Add garlic to your horse’s bridle, and victory is yours. And, should you happen to encounter a bullfight, a strand of garlic ‘round your neck will protect you from the horns of the raging bull.

Before we close, we extend a bounty of good wishes and hugs to our Alon, Maya and Geffen, who were blessed with a beautiful baby boy this Sunday afternoon. Being born on the seventh of Adar is a great attribute (traditionally, the day of Moses’ birth and death), and also to be a boy among the Chubeza team’s babies (mostly girls) is no small feat. Much happiness, love and family time to you all!

Wishing you all a good week, which will hopefully be capped by rain,

Alon, Bat Ami and the Chubeza team


This week’s basket includes:

Monday: lettuce, cucumbers, cauliflower, parsley, tomatoes, broccoli, celeriac, green or red cabbage, kohlrabi, green garlic, cilantro/dill

In the large box, in addition: radishes, leeks or green onions, spinach

Wednesday: broccoli, red or green cabbage, tomatoes, parsley, celery, kohlrabi, cauliflower, fava beans, lettuce, cucumbers, dill

In the large box, in addition: small radishes/daikon, green onions, green garlic


Good Green Garlic Recipes

For our newest (green garlic) arrival, some tasty serving suggestions and also a green garlic pesto picture essay from Julia of Mariguita farm, a CSA farm in California.