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Root Down Farm Ramblings

The Greenhouse has Started

by Erin and Steve on 03/13/19

Here we go 2019. The earliest seeds to be transplanted out into the fields were started in the greenhouse on Monday. Good thing the weather is a bit warmer, now if we could get the sun to stay out for more than one day maybe the ground will start drying out! We seeded 100 cell trays that had 98 cells per tray and 10 cell trays that have 50 cells per tray. That's over 10,000 seeds i.e. plants slated for the spring fields. And that's just the first week of seeding!
We are also seeding the the high tunnels (the buildings that look like greenhouses, but are not heated) for the Spring Share and even with those cold temperatures, the first seeds seeded in February still germinated. We are continuing to turn these tunnels over from the winter share so they can be seeded into again for the Spring share. It's an exciting time. If the sun is out it can get up to 80+ degrees in the tunnels even if it is in the 20's or 30's outside. But if it's cloudy outside, it can be pretty cold to work in there. So here's to more sunny, warmer, dry days. But I'm not wishing time away, this year will probably fly by like most of them do.

Sunny Days

by Erin and Steve on 02/16/19

February is getting away from me here. I don't have as much to do during this time of year, and I try to limit the amount of time I spend working because this is supposed to be (and actually is) down time for us. However, we are in the midst of a pretty large farmhouse renovation and that is taking up most of our time and lots of Steve's thoughts. If everything works out the farm will finally have it's own office and it's own kitchen. We are starting seeds for the season the last week of the month. Then it's on to the new barn improvements for the year: a new wash room. This is quite the undertaking as the barn will eventually be reconfigured on the inside, but right now the goal is the washroom. Hope there is time for that on top of everything else we have to do before we have to actually get in the field in April!
So I want February to last as long as possible. This goes against common thought, I am sure as most are ready to move past winter now. But the daylight now lasts longer than 10 hours per day, which is key for both plant growth and the psyche. So all of you who signed up for the Spring Share can smile even when the weather is crap knowing that the seedlings that will become some of the vegetables in the Spring Share are already starting to grow in the high tunnels. I mentioned starting the greenhouse at the end of the month, so for now I have seeds to sort.

Stick the Landing

by Erin and Steve on 02/09/19

I was a gymnast from the time I was 5 years old until I was 10. When I turned 10 I thought it was amazing that I had been doing something for half my life (I have a memory of this conversation). I liked doing it and even competing at gymnastic meets. Once I started growing too fast (I'm 5'10" now) it became difficult. But at the end of every event...floor routine, uneven bars, the beam, and the vault, I made sure that my dismount was spot on. I loooved to stick the landing. Then you stand up tall and put your hands up like "ta-da". Then solute the judges and walk back to your coach.
Well we just finished up the 2018 CSA share season and afterwards I wanted to put my hands up like I stuck the landing after nailing the routine, solute, and walk away with my toes pointed. We had an amazing year. I'm very proud of it. I'm also very thankful for everyone who supports the farm and this wonderful piece of farmland, the BIG old barn and the people who make everything come together including the crew and volunteers. The season in WNY can be demanding, relentless, and unforgivable so when things work out well..."ta-da". Nailed it. Now on to 2019.

Winter Share #8 of 8: 2/4+2/7 The FINAL Pick Up

by Erin and Steve on 02/02/19

This week marks the final Winter Share for the season! It's a happy occasion that somehow is sad because we won't be distributing vegetables until the end of April :( But not to worry! Remember Winter Share members can order in bulk this week (check out your email) and we still have some spots open for the 2019 Summer Share Season. Not everyone on the waitlist has received an email to sign up. We are grateful for the interest in joining our CSA and hope that your patience isn't wearing thin. We grow on a set amount of acres each year and for reasons connected to soil health, we have to limit the number of people in the CSA. It's important to keep in mind that you are what your food eats! Seriously, nutrient dense, healthy soil feeds the vegetables that end up on your table. It's important to keep that in mind when you are looking into how your food is grown/raised.
Anyhoo, it's a busy time for us on the farm as the final share is the largest one of the winter season, the 2019 share is almost full, and we are marching forward with crop planning for when it is green again outside. We are also continuing with infrastructure improvements and hoping they will be done by the time we need them to be. If you want to keep up with the farm in real-time make sure to follow us on Instagram @therootdownfarm.
Now this is what is in the final winter share: carrots, beets, parsnips, celeriac, turnips, radishes, kohlrabi, rutabega, onions, kale, cabbage, potatoes, cayenne peppers, apples from Bittner-Singer Orchards, and hopefully lettuce mix if it survived the polar vortex.

1/28: Another Down Week Before...

by Erin and Steve on 01/28/19

This week marks the final "off" or "down" week in between Winter Share pick ups. The Fall calendar was a bit wonky and it has led to the Winter Share season ending a little earlier than normal. The final Winter Share is next week for those wondering.
Most of the Farm Plan for the season is set, with some little adjustments still to make. Mapping out the fields this season is next on the to-do list. We use our rotation plan to map out were every single crop and all if it's required successions will go. Specific cover crops are also involved in this plan. We are turning our attention to some major infrastructure improvements to be done to the barn before the weather breaks (hopefully). We were previously in "Save the Barn" mode. Now that we have shored up the piers, walls, water issues inside the barn and put a new roof on the monstrosity, we are moving to "Improve the Barn" mode. Stage 1 of Improve the Barn is moving the wash station indoors, woohoo!! 
Anyway, lots to do in this "down" week before the final Winter Share pick up (and bulk sale) take place.

Winter Share #7: 1/21+1/24 The Polar Vortex Returns

by Erin and Steve on 01/21/19

This weekend is supposed to be crazy: snow, -3 degree temperatures, and more snow. The event is supposed to be over by Monday so we are going to move on with that in mind. If anything changes because of the weather please check back here for updates, but let's just keep our fingers crossed.
Remember the pick up will be in the root cellar at the back corner of the parking lot. The 42 degrees that the cellar is kept at will feel down right warm compared to outside temperatures! This week's share will be the 2nd to last pick up of the Winter season and then we'll be able to finally fully turn our attention to 2019. It's a good feeling every's kinda like the farm's New Year.
But since we're taking one step at a time given the weather situation we'll focus solely on this week's share:
potatoes, onions, carrots, beets, parsnips, celeriac, turnips, kohlrabi, cabbage, radishes, squash, leeks, kale, lettuce, popcorn, and more ;)

Frigid, but Off Week for the Winter Share

by Erin and Steve on 01/14/19

Well the snow I wanted has arrived, and so has the sun. Unfortunately some pretty frigid temperatures have come along for the ride, too. We're hoping some of the crops in the high tunnels (unheated greenhouses) that are approaching harvest time can make it through these cold nights!
I'm in mid-"oh no it's almost February again" mode, but am holding on to the last half of January for as long as possible. The first seeds of 2019 go in the ground in February...I'm just not ready for that quite yet. After spending the majority of my work days behind a computer right now, I'm still in my winter hibernation routine of building 1 puzzle a week, getting at least 9 hours of sleep a night, watching movies, yoga, and READING! All things I don't get to do during the growing season.
I hope you all get a chance this week to do something that you love doing that doesn't include work. We're hoping for some more snow so we can do some cross country skiing :)
Next Winter Share is next week (the week of the 21st).

Winter Share #6: 1/7+1/10 Down Time

by Erin and Steve on 01/04/19

***The next Winter Share pick up is in the Root Cellar at the other corner of the parking lot. Look for the sign and the lights***
I usually keep up with the blog and our Instagram social media account (@therootdownfarm or if you wanna just see updated pictures click on the icon above on the right that looks like a camera) over the holidays, but this year's holiday schedule was a bit more hectic. So I didn't do any keeping all. And I feel okay about that. It is always a delicate balance, for anyone who runs a business from their home, to separate life and work. As the years go on I need more and more separation, which is soooooo difficult!
Anyway, I hope that everyone had a wonderful Holiday Season. Now we are getting excited for an even more successful 2019! I know you might get sick of this, but there's even more changes coming for the 2019. If you've driven by the farm at all recently you may notice the trees being cleared, and some kept and cleaned up, behind the farmstead. We are planning on adding more high tunnels (unheated greenhouses) and more small fields in order to continue to grow vegetables in the best way possible. Improvements take time, unfortunately. But fortunately they are happening (I may or may not be the most patient person).
From now on the Winter Share pick up will take place in the root cellar. The root cellar is the small white building on the opposite corner of the parking lot from the barn. The yellow sign will be by the door and there are outdoor lights on the building that will be on. The space is heated, so we always do pick ups from this building in January and February. This is what is in this week's share: potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, carrots, beets, parsnips, celeriac, rutabegas, winter radishes, kohlrabi, leeks, cabbage, kale, squash, and more options! See you in the root cellar.

Winter Share #5 12/17+12/20 The Last of 2018

by Erin and Steve on 12/14/18

People commonly ask what we do in the Winter months. Though the work load slows dramatically, we still have plenty to do in the reduced hours of daylight. We are still harvesting, caring for, and monitoring the vegetables we have growing in the high tunnels (ie unheated greenhouses). We also have a BOATLOAD of planning to do. All of the greenhouse plans for the 2019 season are laid now. Since we grow all of our own plants from the start, our greenhouse plan has to be very precise from each broccoli seed seeded to every zucchini. All of these precise numbers are based on harvest yields we've predicted for the season. We also have a separate field plan that is so much larger than the greenhouse plan, but just as accurate and detailed. Once again, since we start ALL of our crops from seed, anything we don't seed in the greenhouse we seed directly into the ground. Carrots are a good example of a crop seeded directly into the ground. So the field plan includes every last crop transplanted or seeded into every field in our 10 acre crop rotation. So when you come to the first Summer Share pick up next year and grab a single scallion please know that the variety of scallions was chosen for that specific time of year and seeded on a specific date in the greenhouse in order to transplant it out into a specific location in a specific field on a very specific date in order to have it ready to harvest for you on the day you pick it up. We also had to seed a specific amount of it in order to have enough for everyone in the share that wanted scallions that week. We then have to plan for succession plantings in order to have scallions available multiple times throughout the season and harvested at their peak. This is just one example. We have a plan for every single variety of all the different vegetables we grow. I'm sure you can appreciate the math involved, but also the intention that goes into every single crop you receive in any one of the shares we offer.
I take great pride in our yearly plan because it really is the foundation for every success or failure we have within a season. It is a drawn out plan of the crazy thoughts and ambitions in my head converted to algorithms and attached to specific dates all based on our experiences as growers. It comes together multiple times a week for 30 weeks in a row (plus every other week in the Winter Share). Sometimes there are "pockets" in the plan created by adverse weather conditions like too much or not nearly enough precipitation. But the plan has both a belt and suspenders to make sure each share every week is bulky.
So yeah, that's what I'm doing in the Winter, plus it is almost time to order our seed for the season, which usually takes up a good 8 hour work day (yep, the annual seed order is that involved). Now of course this isn't the only things we are doing, but I'm gonna leave the rest for another time!
So when I tell you what's in this week's share know that I planned for it in December of last year! And here's what it is: potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, carrots, beets, kohlrabi, parsnips, onions, winter radishes, cabbage, kale, bok choy, erba stella, leeks, garlic and more! (wink, wink)
**Remember that after this pick up we skip 2 weeks..the next pick up will be the week of January 7th.

A Week Off (Week of December 10th)

by Erin and Steve on 12/08/18

There is no share pick up or vegetable distribution of any sort this coming week. It is the first time since the first week of May that we won't have a share pick up of some sort at the farm. There is a beautiful blanket of snow on the ground and the sun is even out! (it only came out for 6 days in the month of November, I counted). This means that this is the first week in a long string of weeks that I'm not worried about a thing. What a wonderful feeling. Sometimes you don't realize how stressed you've let yourself become until you are able to really relax! Usually I spend my time worrying about the vegetables and the weather, but right now I'm just doing some emails, blogging and thinking about the next 1000 piece puzzle I want to build. Oh how wonderful. I'm hoping that some of you out there are getting to truly relax sometime this weekend, too.
Now I should remind everyone that the waitlist is now signing up for the 2019 season. The first round of emails sent out to the people at the top of the waitlist were sent last Saturday so check your inbox. If you received an email send in the attached sign up form ASAP. If you did not receive an email, first check your spam folder. If it is not there you probably were not high enough on the waitlist to yet receive an email. Don't worry, we will be sending out more emails soon.
As for you Winter Share holders there isn't a pick up this week (the week of the 10th), but there is one the week of the 17th so mark your calendars.

Winter Share #4 12/3+12/6 The CRAZY Schedule Continues

by Erin and Steve on 12/01/18

We warned you all that the calendar this season is wacky and therefore our pick up schedule would be, too (#notourfault). The first snow for the north towns was a pretty one. Now that it is December my body is entering it's normal 'hibernation mode". Yes, ever since we started Root Down Farm the Winter has become a real resting period for me. Sometimes it is difficult to accept. I will feel guilty if it seems like Steve is working and I am not, or to even take an entire day off because there is always something I could be doing. And when you work from home it is even more difficult to draw those lines because work is all around me! But my body seems to try to solve the problem for my mind by simply shutting down at night...completely. I'm serious. If people could hibernate I'm sure that's what a doctor would tell me I do every Winter. I get tired at around 9 at night and then I'll wake up at 8 am with a good 11 hours under my belt no problem. And that is the norm during these short days when the sun is only up for 9 hours out of 24. All this rest and recovery is so I can 'wake' in the Spring ready to hit the ground running, because there's no other way when you are a vegetable farmer in Western New York!
As for this week's share, here's what you'll be getting: potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash choice, carrots, beets, parsnips, celeriac, rutabegas (they are small this year), daikon radishes, cabbage, kohlrabi, sunchokes, kale, scallions, lettuce mix, bok choy, and other greens depending on how they've fared in the weather!

Winter Share #3: 11/26+11/29 Moving Fast

by Erin and Steve on 11/26/18

Thanksgiving was so early this year I feel like I keep falling behind. So this blog may be a little late, but the vegetables will be harvested and in the share room right on time. We are still harvesting a few things from the fields, but most of the freshly harvested vegetables are coming out of the high tunnels (the unheated greenhouses).
Also just a reminder to anyone in the Winter Share who hasn't signed up for the 2019 Summer Share season should do so ASAP. We are going to start emailing the wait list the first week of December.
As for this week's share, this is what will be in it: potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, winter squash choice, parsnips, watermelon radish, celeriac, kale, chard, parsley, sunchokes, onions, leeks, scallions, garlic, and head lettuce.

The First Annual Thanksgiving Market at the Farm!

by Erin and Steve on 11/16/18

Woohoo, we're excited that our initial idea a few years ago is now coming to fruition! The first ever Thanksgiving Market at the Farm will take place in the share room in the barn on Monday November 19th from 3 to 6pm. It's open to everyone who renewed their shares for 2019 and their friends and family. We always loved the thought that our share holders could enjoy and share vegetables from the farm on one of the best holidays of the year: Thanksgiving! Everything will be set up like a farmer's market and you can come shop al la carte for anything you need. Make sure to bring cash or check. Look for all the details in the email we sent out to everyone.
So mark your calendar and we'll see you then! (Sorry for all the exclamation points, but we're excited).

UPDATE: Winter Share Pick Up Thursday 11/15

by Erin and Steve on 11/15/18

Yes there will be some weather in the area during our normal Thursday pick up at the farm from 3 to 6. We are only expected to receive 2 inches of snow by 6pm so this isn't anything us Buffalonians should worry about. If you are coming from an area where the weather is no good and can't make the trip to the farm please call us. If you are coming from work downtown and traffic is slow (as it should be when it is snowing ;) and you think you may be a little late just call and let us know.
We will update this post if anything changes.

Update: 7:30 am 11/15/18

Winter Share #2: 11/12+11/15 Plus the Thanksgiving Market at the Farm

by Erin and Steve on 11/10/18

This weather is putting a definite period at the end of the season. We feverishly harvested the bulk crops from the fields, including in the snow on Friday. There is still more to harvest fresh in the fields and the high tunnels, with plenty more to do to but the farm to sleep for the winter.
On a different note, we are happy to announce the first ever Thanksgiving Market at the Farm! It's something we have stewed over before and then actually planned, planted, and harvested for it, too! It takes place on Monday the 19th from 3 to 6 pm. Fresh veggies from the farm will be set up like a market in the share room so you can fill your Thanksgiving tables! This is not a share, so you do not have to sign up for it. Just show up on Monday the 19th between 3 and 6 pm with either cash or a check to shop and pay a la carte for whatever vegetables you want. We will close when we are sold out (or at 6pm depending which comes first). Look for an info-packed email from the farm in your inbox!
As for this week's Winter Share, it will include all the same vegetables plus more, including: potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash choice, parsnips, carrots, beets, daikon radishes, kohlrabi,cabbage, onions, radishes, kale, chard, scallions, head lettuce, salad greens, leeks, brussels sprouts, celery, and parsley.

Root Down Farm
5850 Shimerville Rd 
Clarence Center, NY 14032

Pick up hours:
Summer Share M and Th 2-6:30
Winter Share M and Th 3-6
Spring Share M and Th 4-6
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