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Root Down Farm Ramblings

Everyone Has A Job to Do

by Erin and Steve on 04/04/20

As every day is called 'odd' or 'weird' I am trying to refer to them as normal. This is the new normal for a while and we all have jobs to do. Some people have to stay at home, educate and care for their children, and only go out when they need essentials. Some people are required to be at work, helping the sick, potentially without proper equipment. Our job has remained the same: feed people. Our job is essential, and we've always done it because of our belief that a healthy local food economy is extremely important. Some people have in the past referred to local agriculture as "boutique". I hope that this crisis is showing you the importance of a healthy local food economy and has also given people a reason to support local agriculture all the time so that it is always there when we all need it.
We have been taking measures to ensure we remain healthy in order to be able to grow food for our farm community, but we are also growing food for local grocers. They are set up to interface with the general public, so we are supporting them as much as we can right now.
The CSA Share season will look a little different once it arrives. Right now we haven't made any concrete changes because we don't know what the world will look like come the share start. For anyone in the Spring Share the start date is the last week of April (if you've signed up you will receive an email from us in a couple weeks with details), and the Summer Share will start the first week of June (you will receive an email a couple weeks before the start of the share). **A plug: Please read the emails we send in their entirety. We do not send them often because when we do send them we want you to read them. They most likely contain the answer to the question you just emailed about ;)**
Pick ups for the season will be set up to make sure everyone will maintain a 6 foot distance from everyone else. We are changing things about the U-pick as well all in order to follow CDC guidelines and not contribute to the spread of the virus that shall not be named. Details of our plan to safely distribute produce will be included in the email we send out.
We hope you are keeping your distance from others when you do have to go out in public. Keep your hands off your face and wash your hands often. If you have a fever or a cough please quarantine yourself and stay home. If you feel fine help protect our community and stay home...and stay well.

A Blizzard May Come

by Erin and Steve on 03/14/20

This week marked an escalation in COVID-19 precautions and preparedness. It's a weird time, one that I didn't at first new imagine, but quickly started wondering what may happen. It's important in these odd times to make sure your mind is being ruled by reason and not by emotion. It is important to do what the CDC recommends, but maybe hoarding toilet paper, or blaming someone for the outbreak is a bit unreasonable.
I heard a good analogy on the radio last week. They compared COVID-19 to a blizzard and it went something like this: The authorities on the topic will issue warnings and inform you on ways to be prepared for the potentially dangerous storm. Some people will take the warnings seriously and do what they are supposed to do. And hopefully in the end we'll look around and say, "That wasn't as bad as they predicted". And some people won't take the warnings seriously and ignore any preparations they were asked to take. The problem is that these are the people who make it more difficult on first-responders when the storm does get bad, and maybe they make the situation even worse (think driving in a snow storm and blocking plows from doing their job). So, it doesn't matter if you think the storm will be bad or not. You should follow directions and prepare for a storm because we are all watching out for each other, and you wouldn't want to make things worse when you could be helping.
These preparations for COVID-19 include social distancing (aka avoiding crowds over 50) in order to avoid everyone getting sick at once and overloading the heath care system in our area. People will still get sick, but hopefully not all at once in order to allow for everyone who needs medical attention to receive it.

As for the farm we are following all the recommendations and so are our employees. We have work to do in order to make sure the rest of the season falls in line. We will get past these odd times and probably be better for it. So in the meantime be reasonable and be kind to one another. We need to support and have faith in our community more than ever. We love you all.

Our Good Friend Dan Oles

by Erin and Steve on 02/23/20

By now some of you may know that a dear friend of ours passed away earlier this week. Dan Oles of Oles Family Farm and Promised Land CSA died and we were incredibly saddened by the news. When Steve and I moved to Western New York in hopes of starting our life and our farm together we were not always welcomed with open arms by people in the farming community. We were young, we were different and coming from the east coast we had some crazy ideas about what we wanted to do. The first time we met Dan Oles on a dreary Spring day in 2011 he was undeniably kind and considerate of our views and thoughts in a way that other people had not been, and I liked and respected him and his wife Jane very much after that day.
Since then we have grown a friendship with the Oles family through sharing experiences and thoughts and ideas on our farms and our families and we will miss Dan from now until forever.

Turning Off Before Ramping Up

by Erin and Steve on 02/07/20

The farm is 'going dark' for a little bit now. We have finished the Winter Share and are starting seedlings at the end of the month. So we've decided to not answer emails or phones or be on social media for the next week and a half in order to get prepared for the new season and stop thinking about farming for a hot second!
I apologize to everyone on the wait list who did not get the chance to sign up for this seasons share. We filled up fast again this year which we are thankful for, but we can only support so many people on our land. Of course we would like to feed everybody if we could, but we are limited by space and sustainability. If you did not receive an email with a chance to sign up this season, then you will remain on the wait list and you will receive an email after our blackout period with info about your spot in line as well as some other CSA's that may suit you.
It's time for some coffee and a good book.

Final Winter Share pick up and Bulk Sale- 2/4 + 2/6

by Erin and Steve on 01/31/20

This week marks the official end to the 2019 season because it is the final Winter Share pick up! How exciting. Of course the 2020 season has also already begun via the planning and seed ordering we have already done, but now we can fully focus on 2020. We truly appreciate all of you who are part of our farm community and we love being able to provide the freshest clean vegetables you can get your hands on. So thank you to you all.
This week also marks the annual winter bulk sale we have for all our Winter Shareholders. You all should've received a reminder email about the final share pick up and details about the bulk sale and how to order if you want anything.
The final Winter Share will include: carrots, beets, winter squash, potatoes, winter radishes, rutabegas, parsnips, cabbage, onions, turnips, kale,  celeriac, kohlrabi, popcorn and more!

Winter Share #7 of 8: 1/21+1/23 Hello Winter?

by Erin and Steve on 01/17/20

Well I went to lengths to talk about how Winter doesn't officially start until December 22nd. Which is a fact (it ends on March 19th so if anyone around here is talking about "signs of Spring" they're full of it). But jeeeeeezzzzzzz Winter you could at least be here when it is your turn! I know some of you are rolling eyes or making audible noises in response to this, but I'm serious. You know how everyone seems to be getting sick this year and how the flu season is horrendous and on and on; I think it's partly because we need a real Winter here! So. Like I said before, Winter ends on March 19th so we have some time to shove real Winter in here before I start complaining that April should feel like Spring.
So here we are, and this week is fixing to be a bit cold so we are moving the Winter Share into the root cellar like we normally do. The root cellar is the smaller white building on the opposite corner of the parking lot, next to the tunnel that lines the edge of the lot. The share sign that is usually by the road will be by the entrance to the root cellar. It is a conditioned space, so the vegetables won't freeze during distribution, and neither will any of us!
This week is the second-to-last Winter Share pick up and it will include: carrots, beets, winter squash, potatoes, radishes, rutabegas, parsnips, cabbage, onions, turnips, leeks, kale, and head lettuce.

Information for Wait List

by Erin and Steve on 01/14/20

Hey ya-all on the wait list! Thanks for waiting. We just sent out our first round of emails to people on the wait list from Group A through Group C. To find out what group you are in you would've received an email from us last February telling you what group you are in. If you've asked to sign up for the share this past season, 2019,  then you have not been assigned a group yet (and therefor have not been emailed yet).
We know all this waiting can be a pain, but vegetables are mostly annuals so our business follows the seasons! (ie we aren't totally to blame, some blame goes on the nature of vegetables ;) We also had our best retention rate to date...thanks to all our wonderful members. Which means we do not have many spots available this season. Typically we have about 40 spots available, this year we have only 25.
So if you think you may be in wait list groups A, B, or C then check your inbox, and  if it isn't there then check your spam folder. If you've never received an email back from us, that means you've just gotten on the wait list this season (2019) and haven't been assigned a group yet. You will receive that information next month. 

Winter Share #6 of 8: 1/7+1/9 Another Winter Share and Waitlist Sign Up

by Erin and Steve on 01/02/20

Woohoo, we made it to what seems to be a mythical year, 2020. This warm up has been good for our high tunnel crops like head lettuce (which will be in the share this week!). It also means I'll be emailing the wait list soon. We used to do it right before Christmas, but it seemed a bit intrusive and so we will be sending emails to you wait-listers next week about signing up for the upcoming season.
As for the farm we are continuing our planning for the next CSA season, but also taking some REAL TIME OFF!! :) This may be a bit of an inconvenience to some of you, and I understand. But we need a break, a good winter's nap, so don't plan on getting a quick email response if you email. We'll respond...eventually.
As farmers we get a lot of questions about our Winter activities. And of course we do a Winter Share, but I always have felt I need to explain all the work we do in the Winter to everyone so they know how much planning (and also maintenance of everything) we do. But now I just don't care if everyone knows how difficult this job is, because I know. I'm not sure how many teachers get asked what they do with their Summers, but children are crazy! (you know that, you have some). So I'm sure Summers for teachers just aren't long enough when all that planning and preparing for next year has to happen along with some real rest. So I hibernate in the Winter. As much.as.possible. Because I need to give more than my all when the time comes.
All right, that's enough about me and what I will be up to for the next month and a half (sleep). This week's Winter Share will include: carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, potatoes, winter radishes, rutabegas, parsnips, cabbage, onions, turnips, leeks, kale, winter squash, and head lettuce. And if you are wondering, yes, all our veggies are grown without supplemental heat; just what the sun provides in the tunnels.

Winter Share #5 of 8-12/17+12/19: Game On

by Erin and Steve on 12/14/19

Well it's time to get back at it after the week "off". We have a Winter SHare pick up again this week and it will be the last pick up of 2019! Now of course the Winter Share continues into 2020, but that's not 2019! On some level I can't believe it's gonna be 2020. I remember being floored when I realized one day that it would soon be the year 2000. But that was 20 YEARS AGO. Kids born in 2000 are almost of legal drinking age! Anyway here we are.
This week is also the last field harvest (specifically kale), but there is more goodies in the tunnels to help us through to the last Winter Share pick up. But that means we get to officially clean up the rest of the deer fencing and last of the row cover before we get hit with more snow, again. This is also the last pick up in the share room in the barn before we move into the root cellar. Thursday is looking brisk, so if you are planning on coming that day make sure to dress warmly.
We will also be starting to take a look at the waitlist for the 2020 CSA season in the New Year, so if you've been on the list a while make sure to check your inbox in January. We only have around 30 openings this year!
So this is what will be in the share this week: carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, potatoes, radishes, parsnips, cabbage, onions, winter squash, rutabegas, turnips, leeks, kale, bok choy, and lettuce mix

No Pick Up This Week!

by Erin and Steve on 12/07/19

Now you may be asking why there is an exclamation point at the end of the title for the post this week: it's because I am excited. I'm going to take this week to relax (at least a little). Of course there's the seed catalogs I mentioned last week that just keep coming, so I won't stop looking at those, but otherwise I don't want to think about planning and office work and shares much at all this week. Woohoo.
I'm hoping everyone will have time to relax in these next few weeks, too. The days are so dark this time of year, we are all supposed to hibernate a little anyways.
So we'll see you Winter Shares not this week, but next.

Winter Share #4 of 8: 12/3 and 12/5 After Thanksgiving

by Erin and Steve on 11/30/19

Well, it's almost time to get off the couch and get back at it. I think that from Tuesday to Friday, with Thanksgiving in the middle, I spent more time on a couch or recliner or car seat than any other place except a bed. Which doesn't sound all too healthy, but when we get our first real break since the 4th of July we really don't want to do much more than sit and think about nothing or football (I grew up in Michigan so this year we got to watch the Lions and the Bills). So we can check that off the list and now it is time to get back at it!
We still have some crops in the fields we are harvesting and some more clean up to do in between snow falls. And soon it will be time for Winter work, which includes ordering seeds!! Yes I have received most of our seed catalogs and am starting to go through them. Very exciting.
As for the share this week, this is what will be included: carrots, beets, radishes, sweet potatoes, potatoes, winter squashes, parsnips, cabbage, onions, turnips, leeks, fennel, kale, chard, lettuce, bok choy, and the last of our 2019 garlic crop.

2nd Annual Thanksgiving Market at the Farm Monday Nov. 25th from 2 to 5

by Erin and Steve on 11/21/19

We are having the 2nd Annual "Thanksgiving Market at the Farm" in the share room at the farm on Monday the 25th from 2pm to 5pm. It's not a share, instead you pay for what you want in order to have the best vegetables for one of the best holidays of the year...Thanksgiving!! And all your friends and family are invited!! Here is a list of what we will have available:
Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Winter Squashes, Yellow Onions, Carrots, Turnips, Rutabega, Celery Root, Parsnips, Beets, Leeks, Celery, Kale, Chard, Head Lettuce, Garlic, Apples (These are from Bittner-Singer Orchards, not from us. As you know we grow everything else other than the fruit ;)
and some extras like parsley and salad radishes
We will be open until we are sold out. So make sure to bring cash or check to pay for your loot and dress for the weather. See you there.

Winter Share #3 of 8: 11/19+11/21 Thanksgiving CSA Share and Thanksgiving Market

by Erin and Steve on 11/16/19

YES! There is another Winter Share pick up this week. I know they are 'crammed in here' because of the way the calendar falls this year, but make sure to use this week's share for Thanksgiving and all the meals that surround it ;)
That being said, we are also again having the Thanksgiving Market at the Farm on Monday November 25th from 2 to 5pm. All of your family and friends and neighbors are invited. It will be set up like a farmers market so you pick out what you want and purchase it a-la-carte. There will be a list of the vegetables that will be available at the market on this blog next weekend. You can expect all the Thanksgiving vegetable staples to be available and tasting better than anything you can get at the store, per usual. Stay tuned for more info!
This week has been a chilly one, I'm sure you are aware. We are hearing stories from farmers all over who have lost crops due to this unusual weather (it got way too cold way too fast in case you didn't notice; like January in the beginning of November which is still a Fall month). Some large farms only getting 1/4 of their crops out of the ground before this arctic blast. Farmer friends in North Carolina had 48+ hours in a row under 32 degrees. I know you might think to yourself 'who cares?' but I'm talking about North Carolina! not Buffalo. So once again, we are thankful for this abundance we have and are able to share with the community around us, so let's give Thanks!
This share will include: carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, potatoes, celeriac, radishes, parsnips, cabbage, onions, winter squash choices, purple top turnips, celery, leeks, parsley, fennel, brussels sprouts, chard, kale, head lettuce and scallions, and apples from Bittner-Singer Orchards and McCollum Orchards.

Winter Share #2 of 8: 11/12+11/14 Baby It's Cold Outside

by Erin and Steve on 11/09/19

It's about to be January in November real quick! It seems like mid-November every year there is a little 'winter is coming' check that Mother Nature likes to impose (everyone remembers Snowvember, right?). Last year there was a little burst of cold at the end of this week. But this year THERE IS AN ENTIRE WEEK OF JANUARY WEATHER IN THE BEGINNING OF NOVEMBER! We're lucky to have most of our winter crops out of the big fields right now. But as you Thursday picker uppers saw, we had to harvest the brussels sprouts early because there is no chance this week. We also have green leafy things in the tunnels that are semi-protected, but we're still crossing our fingers that those more tender crops will make it through this week, because THERE IS AN ENTIRE WEEK OF JANUARY WEATHER IN THE BEGINNING OF NOVEMBER that we hadn't planned for.
So we are doing our best to make sure these leafy greens make it to the next few shares, because real Winter is coming December 21st...yes, this is still Fall no matter what retailers are telling you. So this cool blast is a great reminder to everyone: eat winter vegetables. Srsly. It is a great way to help mitigate climate change. Get ready this winter to eat winter vegetables.
But since it is still Fall, this is what is in the share this week: carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, potatoes, celery, salad radishes, kohlrabi, cabbage, onions, acorn squash, bok choy, scallions, parsley, fennel, chard, kale, brussels sprouts, head lettuce and leeks.

Winter Share #1 of 8 11/5+11/7 First Winter Share Pick Up

by Erin and Steve on 11/02/19

Very busy here at the Farm, and windy.  Excited to have the summer share done and ready for the winter share, did I mention the wind?  We are very thankful for the summer share season and for the wonderful members that joined us in the bountiful year.  We are looking forward to next season while preparing for the start of the winter share this week.  This weeks share will include:
Potatoes, sweet potatoes, Parsnips, Celeriac, Turnips, Salad Radish, Kohlrabi, onions, Squash, Leeks, Broccoli, Parsley, Cabbage, Bok Choy, Lettuce Mix, Spinach, Celery and B.Sprouts.

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Root Down Farm
5850 Shimerville Rd 
Clarence Center, NY 14032 
csa@therootdownfarm.com

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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