Root Down Farm Ramblings
If you are getting antsy for Spring think about how we feel! The plants in the greenhouse are busting at the seems wanting to get in the ground, but Winter just isn't giving up. Today it seems like the sun never rose this morning, the wind is whipping and the imminent ice storm is weighing heavy on my shoulders. We have the generator at the ready, propane heaters at the ready, temporary extra supports in our high tunnels and blankets of sorts for the plants in the unheated tunnels. Let's collectively hope that after this winter storm we don't have to say winter storm anymore until it is Winter again and that Spring will come out of hiding along with the sun.
If you have signed up for the Spring Share and are wondering when the share will start it is set for the first full week of May, which is the week of the 7th. Once we have a better grasp on when the first vegetables of the share will be harvest-able we will email everybody in the Spring Share with more information. As we all know, the shares are all weather dependent and the Spring Share needs Spring to happen so it can, too.
Until then let's keep our finger crossed that this ice storm doesn't bring to much ice. Stay safe.
Spring is running a little late this year. It 'officially' started on the 20th of March and we got a little sneak peek, but it's snowing outside right now and another (that's right, I said another) wind storm is on it's way and scheduled to arrive this afternoon. Hopefully we won't lose power again today. On Wednesday the power went out at about 11:30 am. We weren't too worried about the greenhouse at that moment because the sun was coming out at times and keeping the temperatures around 60 degrees inside. Once NYSEG (NYS Electric and Gas) updated their outages webpage they had predicted we would get our power back just before midnight. With the sun seemingly permanently behind the clouds as we entered the evening and the winds at about 50 mph the temperature in the greenhouse started dropping below 50.
Granted at this moment with 7 more hours on tap before the electricity was scheduled to be turned back on we were just concerned about keeping it above freezing inside the greenhouse. We started prepping the generator and grabbing extension cords and setting everything up. Our plan was to turn the thermostat up higher than normal and turn on the heat using the generator, then let it heat the greenhouse to temperature and turn off the generator. We did not want to run the generator without a load on it. We were then going to time how long it took for the temperature to drop to 40 and plan on turning it on again after that timed interval. So with our grand plan in place we were all set up and almost unplugging the heater from the greenhouse to plug it into the generator when...a small hum started. I was looking around and told Steve to 'wait a minute'. The electricity had turned back on at 5:30pm, 6 hours after turning off but just in time for us not to have to take shifts throughout the night turning the generator on and off. And all the little plants waiting for their time in the sun (whenever that comes back) where no worse for wear. The freaking crazy winds continued until about 6:30 pm when it seemed like Mother Nature flipped a switch and they all but stopped.
My head was still humming, but I was relieved we wouldn't be sleeping in our winter coats and waking up every hour or two to turn on the generator and heat up the greenhouse. The farm house had only dropped to 58 and though I was mentally prepared for what was to come, I did not want to do it. I definitely take electricity for granted, even though it is an extremely fragile system and we are probably lucky it works as well and as often as it does. Solar power (and wind power on that day for crying out loud!) start to make a lot of sense after a day like that, eh?
I just have to say it: I can't stand commercials or commentary that make fun of vegetables. Kale gets it's fair share of unprovoked attacks. Kale didn't do anything but help people. Seriously.
This is the first time since last Spring I've gone without the option of eating kale whenever I wanted (we don't buy produce at the grocery store because we grow all the produce we eat) and I miss it! The winter kale is the best kale there is...it's the kale we give out in the Winter Share. It is the most tender and the sweetest and we were devouring all kinds of kale salads this winter, among other things. But alas, there is no more until next winter. I will just have to wait.
So lay off the attacks. Yes it is just as manly and cool to eat kale as it is to eat whatever else they're advertising. Remember to treat kale and all vegetables the same way you would like your food to treat you (and your body).
The weather whiplash is in full effect. My dad keeps saying things like "It must be March", which has somehow become his least favorite month. Though my anxiety starts to increase this time of year, partly due to the weather, I love March. It can be sunny and 50 and then snow a foot. It gives me energy to work and then makes me sit on the couch or behind the computer. It's also the month of our largest single seeding in the greenhouse since we start all of our vegetables in the shares from seed. So we'll be working inside the greenhouse on a sunny day in March in t-shirts sometimes. March also has the first day of Spring which is on the 20th.
So lots-o-changes in the immediate future for the farm, which is a good thing. Like I said, it's regenerative and gives me energy and excitement for the year as long as March isn't dumping 2 feet of snow on the ground at once (knock on wood).
**Don't forget to send us your second payment for your vegetable share. We're aiming for June 4th for the Summer Share and May 7th for the Spring Share. And if you want that mushroom share let Rusty Bucket Mushrooms know (link in previous post and in your inbox)
It feels like the New Year has just begun here on the farm. Now that the Winter Share is officially over we can turn our sights fully on 2018 and start revving the engines. We'll be completely excited when the first seed of the season germinates (either in the ground in the High Tunnel or in a tray in the Greenhouse). Sometimes at the end of a long season it can be hard to muster the energy to think about ever being excited about germinating seeds again, but here we are just as excited as before.
So I hope you are as excited about shares starting as we are about seeds. If you are on the payment plan please remember to send us your second payment (look for all the info in the emails we sent out yesterday). We are looking at the week of June 4th as the start week for share pick ups. Also, we are excited to add Rusty Bucket Mushrooms to our list of farm friends who will be delivering mushroom shares to the share room on your pick up days. So if you are wanting to add a mushroom share check out the email we sent out or head over to their website to sign up (remember to tell them you're with Root Down Farm)
Phew. We've reached the final distribution for the Winter Share and it also marks the final share for the 2017 growing season. Though we are pretty far into 2018 now the farm can final bid 2017 farewell and move on. We are flipping the root cellar right after the final share on Thursday and turning it into our early season propagation house where the first seeds of 2018 will be planted. Here we go again!
So we will see all of you Winter Share members for the last time this week and we won't see you again until everything is green again.
This week's share will include: carrots, beets, potatoes, parsnips, celeriac, turnips, radishes, kale, horseradish, cayenne peppers, cabbage, and hopefully some spinach from the high tunnel! Don't forget to let us know if you are planning on purchasing extra produce ahead of time.
Steve and I just returned from a brief (but jam packed) vacation to southern Florida where we enjoyed 78 degree sunny days. It was relaxing, but by the end we were ready to go home and see some snow. While we were away we mentioned Groundhog Day to a few people we met in passing and it was like they never really consider it...ever! I guess when "Winter" consists of 78 degree days and sunshine you may not pay much attention to whether or not there will be 6 more weeks of it or not. I, on the other hand, kind of view this date as the start of the long haul which is why we had to stuff in a vacation now before we are on lock down on the farm through the Summer.
Don't let all this warm weather talk get to your head. We have 2 more Winter Share pick ups including the one this week. The final share will be the week of February break for area schools so if you are traveling during this week please look at our email we sent you about it. This week's share will include: carrots, beets, onions, cabbage, kale, sweet potatoes, parsnips, celeriac, radishes, turnips, horseradish, hot peppers, and popcorn.
This week is another off week for the Winter Share pick up, but that doesn't mean there isn't anything going on! As you may have noticed we are now full for our 2018 Summer CSA Share Season and the wait list has all been contacted with additional information and updates as to their 'status' (so if you were on the wait list before January 15th you would've received an email from us...so if you didn't receive one it is probably in your spam folder so make sure to add our email address to your address book). Updates to the barn continue to be an ongoing winter project for us. It will one day be the way we see it in our dreams. The website is next in line for it's yearly update and we are almost done finalizing our greenhouse and field plans. Most of the seed has been ordered and delivered and the 2018 to do list has already been formed. Oh yeah, and we are trying to fit in as much R&R as possible because it is January and we are vegetable farmers in Western New York for crying out loud.
I'm not sure how many people know this, but I went to Miami University and "studied" marketing. Technically I have a BS in Business Administration, which in my mind, as I was earning it, was a load of BS. After graduating (15 years ago now) I decided not to go into any field pertaining to Marketing. Little did my young, idealistic self realize I'd end up using it...as a farmer.
The most difficult part of buying fresh, local, whole produce is actually using it. It's difficult to take the time and learn how to. I've spent almost all my time after graduating learning how to use, cook, prepare, store, and can vegetables because I had absolutely no clue up until then. (Insert part where my Marketing degree comes in) Grocery stores like Wegman's print large ads recognized as a recipe magazine to try and get people who don't really know how to cook to follow their recipes filled with all of their products. This drives me NUTS as a vegetable farmer, but my Bachelor's Degree is saying "it's textbook". If you are someone who is learning how to cook, maybe how to eat better, maybe struggling with using vegetables that aren't in Wegman's ad magazine please know this: 1) Recipes are not set in stone. Try starting to understand flavors and keep staples in your pantry and experiment, that's half the fun. And 2) You are not alone. Keep at it (and stay away from recipes that ask you to buy a specific brand of something you can only get from 1 store...that's just them Marketing to you). Our website has a bunch of recipes and so does the rest of the Internet.
So here is what is in the Winter Share this week: carrots, beets, onions, sweet potatoes, celeriac, potatoes, cabbage, radishes, turnips, horseradish, kohlrabi, kale and choice of fruit. See you all in the root cellar again for share pick up!
Oh boy, it's been awhile since we updated the blog, but I went ahead and took some serious time off for the holidays this year. Last year after Christmas ended I was really sad because it felt like it had come and gone so fast that I had missed it. This year I was determined to not let that happen, and my plan worked. It's a good feeling to know that I actually relaxed (as opposed to taking a few extra days off and feeling guilty about it the whole time). Now I hope it doesn't seem like I'm bragging, because I wish (and hope) that everyone has felt or does feel this way. It's time to stop time from slipping away!
Of course all this cold weather and large amounts of snow is helping, but we've been snow shoeing and cross country skiing because the conditions are so great as long as you can keep warm. But it's looking like the weather will warm for the week of the share, which helps us out because we need the vegetables that we are going to harvest to be thawed so we can harvest them! Jeepers.
So all you Winter Share members don't forget to head to the root cellar for your shares (which is the white building next to the greenhouse lining the back of the parking lot). This week's share will include: carrots, beets, onions, sweet potatoes, kohlrabi, celeriac, turnips and radishes, parsnips, butternut squash, cabbage, kale garlic and leeks as well as a surprise!
We've already entered the Holiday Season and holy moly did it make it's presence known! It's been friggin' cold for a couple days now, but it looks like the temperatures are going to get back up to average by the end of this weekend. This works out for us because we are still planning on having the Winter Share pick up in the big white barn. Now there isn't any heat in there, so be prepared (it should be above freezing at least:)
With the arrival of the snow our hurried work in the fields has been halted. Yes, there is still more to do out there, but it is going to have to wait until there is a snow melt. We are continuing to work in the High Tunnels and Steve has started on the projects we need to complete in the barn before the weather warms again and our attention gets drawn elsewhere. Added to this is gift shopping and signing up our waitlist for the 2018 summer season. Whew. We hope you all are finding time to enjoy the beauty the snow brings our region and also enjoy this time of year; it always goes by too fast.
Now don't forget we have a Winter Share to give to you this coming week: December 18th for Monday pick ups and December 21st for Thursday pick ups. The share will include: carrots, beets, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, celeriac, parsnips, radishes, turnips, cabbage, kale, winter squash, garlic, leeks, and horseradish and rutabagas and apples from Bittner Singer Orchard. Sounds like the start of a wonderful Holiday dinner.
We were recently interviewed by American Farmland Trust and featured as a farm story on their website and social media. They do great work protecting farmland across the country. Click the link www.farmland.org/root-down-farm if you are interested in reading more about our story and this farm:).
This coming week we will be "off" again for the winter share (ie there will not be a pick up). It kinda comes with good timing, too. The Polar Vortex is again invading us and the temperatures will be dipping WAAAYYY below freezing for a good week. We have the vegetables tucked in in the field tunnels in hopes that once the weather warms slightly that we will again be harvesting from them. It also looks like we're going to get some real snow over this week, too. So stay warm and we'll see the week of the 18th.
Usually our Winter Shares are spaced every other week. However, this week that is not the case. We have another pick up this week, so don't forget to show up at the farm:)
We've had a lot of questions about winter growing and 'post harvest handling' (ie what you do with the veggies after they are harvested) as we say in the biz. So, I'm going to try to sum-up what we do in hopes of not sounding like a text book. We are always working and creating priorities in our to-do list based on weather. It's constant. If you hear me talk about the weather or blog about the weather it is not a conversation filler...it is on my brain 24-7. It dictates everything we do, including what vegetables we grow when and what we do to protect them from the weather if we need to.
The crops that can stand up to sustained freezing temps are still in the field (right now that is kale, leeks,some lettuce mix and spinach, and scallions). Some vegetables are in the root cellar because they had to come out of the fields before the frost (winter squashes, onions, potatoes and sweet potatoes). Some vegetables are best stored in the walk in cooler, like most of the root vegetables and cabbage. And finally some vegetables are STILL GROWING!! in the unheated High Tunnels (everything else in the share). It is fun to go out to the high tunnels on the morning of share pick up in the end of November, well now the beginning of December, to harvest fresh greens. We'll keep doing that until it get too cold, or more importantly, there isn't enough light in the day for them to keep growing.
As always, if you ever have any questions about the vegetables, the best time to ask is when you are picking up your shares! This is what is in the winter share this week: carrots, beets, onions, sweet potatoes, winter squash choice, salad turnips, radishes, celeriac, parsnips, scallions, leeks, kale, chard, salad mix, cabbage, bok choy, and kohlrabi.
*1) If you are on the waitlist look for an email from us soon. If you have been on the list for over a year then you should've received an email from us last Dec/Jan stating what 'Group' you are in (A, B, C, or D). You will all be emailed in this order. If you have just joined the waitlist this year you will be emailed in January with an assigned group for the 2019 CSA Season.
We are always so grateful to be supported by a wonderful community. It warms our hearts. Please except our apologies for not always being able to accommodate everyone who wants into our CSA shares at this time.
*2) We have only 2 more openings for employment this coming year. Please visit the 'Jobs' tab at the top of the website for information on how to apply. Hard workers only please:)
It's almost December, are we still supposed to be this busy?