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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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May 12-15 2024

DANDELION

The first of a year’s abundance of dandelions

is this single kernel of bright yellow

dropped on our path by the sun, sensing

that we might need some marker to help us

find our way through life, to find a path

over the snow-flattened grass that was

blade by blade unbending into green,

on a morning early in April, this happening

just at the moment I thought we were lost

and I’d stopped to look around, hoping

to see something I recognized. And there

it was, a commonplace dandelion, right

at my feet, the first to bloom, especially

yellow, as if pleased to have been the one,

chosen from all the others, to show us the way.

Ted Kooser

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May 6-8 2024 – SQUASH, ANYONE?

Over the past few weeks, you’ve been receiving one of the first vegetables of spring – squash! The good news is that this is just the beginning – there are more varieties on the way! As the pioneer of its family, we happily dedicate this rainy spring Newsletter to this remarkable vegetable.

Squash (zucchini) belongs to the prominent Cucurbitaceae family, a very diverse, widespread clan whose members are grown primarily for food, but also for other interesting uses. The Cucurbitaceae family tree splits into five main branches: 1. cucumber, fakus and melon; 2. watermelon; 3. various types of pumpkins and squashes; 4. the ornamental, inedible pumpkin used for decorative purposes and to make serving utensils and musical instruments; and 5. Lupa pumpkins, whose flesh is used to create natural sponges.

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April 30-May 1 2024 – MAY DAY!

This week we mark the first of May, today known primarily as International Workers’ Day, but this date commemorates an age-old traditional holiday for the workers, primarily the women. The Roman goddess Maia (AKA Bona Dea, the “good goddess”), the goddess of Spring, of fertility, healing, and growth, gave her name to the month of May. The literal meaning of Maia (and consequently the month of May) is “greater,” apropos for Spring – with greater daylight and higher temperatures that transform nature into a bevy of green. Every blade of grass and every tree begins to thrive, bursting with the energy of growth.  May 1st and May 15th became major pagan celebrations honoring the goddess Maia, revolving primarily around plants, flowers and water sources. These celebrations were strictly For Women Only, with no men allowed. Surrounding her temples, Maia’s priestesses cultivated gardens of medicinal plants with which they treated the sick.

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Passover eve, April 21, 2024, A wish for a freedom & spring holiday for everyone

True, we grow vegetables in Chubeza’s field, but alongside and between them they are accompanied by a parade of flowers. Sometimes these are flowers growing on the plant itself which turn into vegetables picked for your boxes. And there’s an amazing assortment of wild flowers in the field all dressed up to celebrate.

In honor of the Passover Spring Festival, we’re delighted to share a glimpse of our field’s Flower Finery throughout the seasons. Our thanks to Chana Cohen-Netzer who captured closeup of these beauties.

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