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July 17-19 2023 – SOY WHAT?

Already 5,000 years ago, Chinese Caesar Shennong, considered to be the father of Chinese agriculture, declared soy one of the five most sacred types of grain essential to Chinese culture (together with rice, wheat, barley and millet). Its origins are in North China, from a wild plant named Glycine Ussuriensis.
The process of soy domestication, probably one of the first crops to be cultivated by man, began around the 11th century BC, both as food and for medicinal purposes.
It’s fascinating to ponder what this crop, which has served mankind from ancient times, has had to endure from when it was grown in Chinese fields over 5000 years ago mainly as green manure to improve the soil and enrich the earth for future crops. Today soy has morphed into a source for glue, dye, synthetic fiber, soap, ink, candles, lacquer, a rubber substitute, and of course, biodiesel fuel. From a sacred and dignified seed to a genetically-engineered, labeled, patented prisoner.

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July 10-12 2023 – Summertime, and the livin’ ain’t so easy…

It’s been two full weeks since the official arrival of summer. At June’s end, we were rewarded several additional days of not-terribly-hot weather, but from last week, those long, scorching days moved in to stay.

These are indeed Days of Beginning – the beginning of summer, which is already knocking at our door, and the beginning of an abundance of vegetables. The hot temperatures and the long daylight hours propel the upright corn stalks to soar, bloom, struggle, fertilize and produce heavenly sweet yellow cobs. The cucumbers are now ripening at a brisk summer pace. We’ve already bid a fond farewell to the fakus, more of an “end-of spring” crop. The tomatoes are blushing furiously as they becoming tastier than they could ever get in winter, joined by their cute little cherry tomato sisters in the juicy, joyful red procession.

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July 3-5 2023 – Sqhish Sqhash

Each year, the summer brings a bevy of new vegetables, among them 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, elongated, pear-shaped, pinecone shaped, sharp, flat, small, large, and even extra-large. What a field day for the lovely colorful curcurbitas (Latin for a genus of the gourd family), all so beautiful and tasty!
This year we grew six different squash varieties, from the giant Tripolitanian pumpkin which can neatly transport a shoeless princess, through the middle-sized Napolitano pumpkin, the familiar butternut squash, the oh-so-orange Amoro squash, the distinctive spaghetti squash, all the way to the compact, fits-in-the-palm-of-your-hand green acorn squash. This broad range spans varieties that differ on the outside and within, varying in colors from yellowish green to salmon to dark orange, and in taste – a mild neutral flavor, or nutty or sweet, and in texture: moist and juicy, dry and starchy or long, thin spaghetti-style.
If these quantities seem overwhelming, fear not! We remind you that you needn’t use them right away. On your kitchen counter or in a wicker basket on the living room table, they’ll keep beautifully while enhancing your décor with a flair. If you keep them dry and ventilated, they’re good for another month or even two! If they start growing a thin spider-like web, just wipe it away with a dry cloth.

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June 26-28, 2023 – KING CORN

Over the past few weeks, your boxes have proudly hosted the king of summer, his royal highness The Corn. Each year he accompanies us from June to December. Corn is evidently one of the first crops the Americans
learned to grow some 7,000 years ago, but it was starchy and hard and not sweet at al… Over the years, due to a natural mutation, the sweet corn was created, with double amount of its carnels. Since then, we are blessed with the sheer joy of sinking one’s teeth into a fresh ear of corn.
This year we are also growing white corn, another variety of sweet corn, but you probably won’t be treated to tasting totally white corn. If you come across cobs with white kernels, they will be bi-colored, with white and yellow kernels together… Why? We actually planted white corn, but several beds away was yellow corn. Since corn is pollinated by the wind, some of the pollen from the yellow corn reached the ovaries of the white corn flowers, transforming various kernels to yellow. 

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June 19-21 2023 – And then came summer…

Summer officially arrives this week, and though this spring has been very gentle and (mostly) not-too-hot, we know without a doubt that the hot, heavy days are just around the corner. 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 and 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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July 12-14 2023 – You are one in a melon!

For some weeks now, you’ve been receiving sweet, aromatic, elliptic fruit in your boxes. So this week’s sweet summery newsletter is dedicated to the fruit that almost makes this month’s heatwaves worth it, or at the least provides a measure of comfort: the melon.
Melon history begins in Africa, where there are still many wild varieties. It is unknown when, where and how they were cultivated, but somehow the farmers of an ancient era selected and saved the seeds of the sweetest melons. They were abundant in Egypt over 4000 years ago, and after many epochs travelled on commercial routes to Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, India, South-Central Russia, China and Japan. Melons are depicted in ancient art, including a 2,400-year-old Egyptian burial drawing. In the Gilgamesh Epic written over 2000 years ago, Gilgamesh is mentioned eating aromatic melons. The fruit arrived to Europe sometime around the Greek and Roman period. The Moors brought them from North Africa to Spain during their reign there. Here in Israel, melon is mentioned in the Mishna under the name melafefon (cucumber)… Melons back then were very small compared to today’s varieties, probably about the size of an orange.

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June 5-7, 2023 – To bean or not to bean, that is the question….

Over the coming weeks, we look forward to telling you a bit about the new veggie friends in the offing, beginning this week with — the fresh beans, on their crunchy pods, green and flat, or yellow and cylindrical. The fresh bean is unique from the other summer veggies because like the fakus, it appears now, at the height of spring, and will not stick around for the entire hot, steaming season. Because beans are a crop that thrive on moderation.   

The remainder of their Legume family relatives just love extremes. Fava and peas thrive on frigid cold weather, while soybeans and lubia (black-eyed peas) adore the scorching sun. The beans, however, seek weather that’s just warm enough and just ventilated enough – in essence, a transition-season climate. Which explains why beans are one of the only crops belonging to spring and autumn in our field, dropping in for a very short visit before the onerous summer heat prevails. This year’s spring has been ideal for the bean: overall moderate and gentle. A true field day for the bean!

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In perfect step with the Harvest Festival, Chubeza also harvested our very special grain in the field – the clover, which carpeted the earth in green throughout the winter season, fertilized the ground and protected it from erosion, while its roots aerated the soil as well. Now the clover has dried up and turned yellow. The harvester deftly cut the dry stems and then packed the hay into beautiful, very impressive bales of straw.

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May 22-24 2023 – Focus on Fakus

In perfect step with Shavuot, over the last two weeks we harvested our first beds of fakus, aka “Arabic cucumber.” After several years of questions pouring in like, “This week I received two portions of zucchini and no cucumbers!” this year we decided to begin to pack the fakus in a separate, additional bag from the cucumbers (for now only in the large boxes until the quantities increase). This way it will be easier for those in the know to identify, and to make introductions to those not yet acquainted with the wonderful fakus. Here, ladies and gentlemen, is the fakus in all its glory:

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