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July 15-17, 2024 – POPEYE THE SAILORMAN’S NEW ADDITION TO CHUBEZA 

For the past 20 years, Chubeza has been growing organic vegetables in the fertile fields of Kfar Bin Nun. By now, we’ve chalked up many years of experience and a steady, familiar routine.
Especially In recent years we feel quite fortunate to be planted deep in the fertile soil of the Ayalon Valley, carrying out the same seasonal tasks time and time again, granting us healing understanding amidst chaos and upheaval. A strong, lasting stability.

Beyond the comfortable routine, each year brings us new things to learn and to try out – like a vegetable we began growing this year, the star of today’s Newsletter.: the Malabar Spinach.

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July 8-10, 2024 – Okra – No Joke(ra)!

The day that okra appears in your boxes is a clear sign that summer has arrived in full force. Because okra is a summer tale of a plant born in Africa which migrated north to the Arabian lands and the Middle East before eventually reaching the American Deep South aboard slave ships. In every locale, it flourished in the scorching heat.

The Okra Story is also a tale of family warmth – of memories from our mothers’ and grandmothers’ (and lately our fathers’ and grandfathers’) kitchen, of delicious dishes whose magic is much greater than the actual ingredients. Here too, warmth is a key component. 

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July 1-3, 2024 – A FIELD DAY IN THE PUMPKIN PATCH

Each year, the summer brings a bevy of new vegetables, including the rich array of tempting varieties of Chubeza’s squash and pumpkins. This ensemble comes in green, yellow, orange or beige, dotted and striped, smooth and coarse, round, oval, pear-shaped, pinecone-shaped, pointed, flat, small, large, and even extra-large. What a field day for the lovely, colorful curcurbitas (Latin for the entire gourd family), all so beautiful and tasty!

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June 24-26, 2024 – Stop and Smell the Summer

Summer exudes the aroma of the ocean, the pool, and sunscreen, and of ripe fruit – melon, figs, grapes, and overripe peaches. In our packing house, summer carries the heady aroma of basil. When the basil-laden boxes stand in the packing house, it’s hard to ignore the heady scent in the air that spurs the taste buds to fantasize on pesto.

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June 17-19, 2024 – The King of Summer

Corn is one of the first crops the Americans learned to grow. Some 7,000 years ago, gleaners (from Central America) noticed a spontaneous mutation among the weeds, a teosinte, with a cob that was longer and filled with seeds larger than in your average ancient weed. Something sparked their intuition, and they tasted it – to their great delight. They also discovered that seeds which fell to the ground germinated to become a mature plant that yielded more cobs. After some time, they learned that if they saved and seeded the best choice seeds, the next crop would be even better! Thus, in the process of selecting the optimal plants to grow and harvest from year to year, the “cultured corn” developed sporting large, juicy kernels securely attached to the cob. Today, corn is one of the few plants which cannot reproduce without human aid, since manual separation of the kernels is a must for germination.

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June 10-13, 2024 – The Wheat Still Grows Again

On Shavuot, the wheat harvest festival, we’re reminded of a song that holds great pain along with reconciliation and hope: The Wheat Still Grows Again. The words were penned in 1974, following the Yom Kippur War, by poet Dorit Tzameret, a member of Kibbutz Beit Hashita where 11 of its sons fell in the war. It was composed to music four years later by Chaim Barkani, becoming one of the songs that has since accompanied this country, its crises, challenges and growth.

Amidst the days last fall of terrible shock and mourning, despite the hardship and pain, the wheat fields throughout Israel as a whole and the Western Negev in particular, sprouted and flourished once more. Uri Ravitz, a member of Kibbutz Nachal Oz whose mother Alma Avraham was kidnapped on October 7th (and has since thankfully returned), asked to make slight revisions to the words of the song. He changed “the depths of the North” to “the Western Negev,” adding along with the strength that accompanies the renewed growth of wheat also a cry and a demand for the return of the hostages.

It’s not the same Negev, and not the same house,
You’re gone and must return.
The path with the boulevard, and an eagle in the sky

Yet the wheat still grows again.

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June 3-5, 2024 – A SLICE OF SUMMER

Summer officially arrives in three weeks on June 21st, but though this spring has been very pleasant and (mostly) not-too-hot, this week’s heatwave hit us hard. Yet while we moan and groan about the oppressive heat, the watermelon remains unfazed. It just loves the heat, a throwback to its origins in the southern part of the African continent, the Kalahari Desert. In the scorching desert, the watermelon, boasting a more-than-90% water content, was an important, vital source of liquid to humankind and wild animals. The difficulty in choosing a good watermelon is an old story. Even in its wild form, the sweet watermelon is identical on the outside to a bitter watermelon, necessitating the thirsty passerby to punch a hole in the watermelon rind to test its taste.

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May 27-29, 2024 –  FIESTA MELONS

FIESTA MELONS / Sylvia Plath

In Benidorm there are melons,
Whole donkey-carts full

Of innumerable melons,
Ovals and balls,

Bright green and thumpable
Laced over with stripes

Of turtle-dark green.
Chooose an egg-shape, a world-shape,

Bowl one homeward to taste
In the whitehot noon :

Cream-smooth honeydews,
Pink-pulped whoppers,

Bump-rinded cantaloupes
With orange cores.

Each wedge wears a studding
Of blanched seeds or black seeds

To strew like confetti
Under the feet of

This market of melon-eating
Fiesta-goers.

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May 20-22, 2024 – Focus on Fakus

Over the last few weeks, we began harvesting our first beds of fakus, aka “Arabic cucumber.” For years, this event was followed by messages from you like, “This week I received two portions of zucchini (or cucumbers) in my box!” Thus, this year we hope to introduce those unfamiliar with the wonderful fakus, and ease its recognition by those in the know, by distributing the fakus alongside its cousins the zucchini and cucumber. (For now, the beginning of the fakus harvest, not all boxes will receive them.)

To properly meet the fakus and easily distinguish him from the zucchini, here’s what I learned from our longtime client Tzipi from Jerusalem: the fakus stem resembles that of a cucumber, not zucchini! If you received a light-colored elongated vegetable that kind-of-resembles-zucchini-but-kind-of-doesn’t, check out its stem (the part where it attached to the plant): if it is wide and star-shaped like a zucchini, well… it’s a zucchini. If it’s thin and willowy like a cucumber, then say hi to our friend the fakus.

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