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Root Down Farm Ramblings

A Week "Off": Be Prepared to Pick Up Your Share

by Erin and Steve on 05/31/20

We are taking the week and delaying the start of the Summer Share until June 9th and 11th. The cold, cold Spring paired with restrictions and additional precautions taken because of COVID19 kind of forced our hand. We sent out emails to all of our share members last week, and you all will be receiving a "reminder" email this coming week. The email contains all the information you need about any payments due and what to do in order to pick up your weekly shares for the rest of the season. Here are the rules set by the farm (as stated in the email):
  • You MUST wear a mask while picking up your share. This is non-negotiable; please show respect to your fellow farm community.
  • Pick up will take place in the share room, but we are expanding the space by putting a large tent in the front of the barn. This means everybody must maintain a 6 foot distance from each other.
  • Please leave your children in your car or at home if and when possible (we understand there will be exclusions to this guideline, but children are not allowed to leave their parent's side).
  • Please move through the share room as quickly as possible (another reason to come into the share room by yourself).
  • If the barn is crowded please wait in your car or drive around the block until it clears out a little.
  • We still ask that you try to stick to your pick up day.
  • But if you are unable to make it you can come to the alternate pick up day (either Tuesday or Thursday) of that same week without notifying the farm.
  • You still must only come once per week. i.e Please do not skip an entire week and then double up the next, that is not allowed due to the harvest schedule that is literally set by the vegetables, not us :)
  • If you would prefer us to pack a share for you please call or text the farm 716-949-1204 during your share pick up hours only and let us know. A bagged share with your name on it will be waiting for you after 6:30 outside the share room under the tent.
  • DO NOT COME TO THE FARM IF YOU ARE SICK OR IN QUARANTINE!! Please call or text us your address and we have a volunteer to bring your veggies to your door step (only for people who are sick or in quarantine)
  • We may change or modify these guidelines as the pandemic changes. Please be patient with everyone. Always.

If you are unable to comply with these rules please email me so I can send you a refund. The rules are in place to keep our customers and our staff and us safe so that we can continue to grow and distribute food.

Final Spring Share Pick Up Plus Summer Share Update

by Erin and Steve on 05/23/20

The Summer Share start has been delayed by one week due to the cold, cold weather we had in April/Early May. I know the 90 degree weather coming is going to make us all forget it was 24 degrees just 2 weeks prior! We have sent out emails to all of our Summer Share members with the new COVID19 guidelines for picking up your share (the final Spring pick up will remain in the drive thru method we have been using).
So the Summer Share will begin the week of June 9th. This means there will be a one week gap between the end of the Spring Share and the beginning of the Summer Share. Though it wasn't planned, it will help us change and update the share room to follow the new safety guidelines (I'll list them next week) so we can safely re-open for the Summer season. The u-pick fields will be open this season, but not until July. We'll have more info on that as the pandemic response continues to evolve.

EDIT 5/25: The final Spring Share pick up will include a choice of salad radishes and turnips, spring carrots, asparagus (this crop is SUPER late this year so we are trying to make sure everyone who wants some gets some...which may mean smaller bunches), garlic shoots, beet greens, bok choy, baby kale, mint, lovage, and arugula as well as greens mix and lettuce for everyone.
Bring on the HEAT!

Spring Share #4 of 5: 5/19+5/21 Warmer Weather and updates

by Erin and Steve on 05/16/20

Let's hope this warmer weather sticks now. On Friday I went out to work and audibly shrieked at how warm it was. I just put on my layers like it was any other day these past few weeks and immediately was too warm. Last week we had 2 days (1 whole day and 2 half days) to get anything done in the field. That's not a good percentage, especially during planting season. We are hoping this week's percentage is more favorable...and that the rain is now not going to keep us out. But we keep doing as much as we can do when we can do it.
If you are wondering about any changes COVID 19 may bring to the Summer Shares you are not alone. The upick fields will be open this year, but we did not plant any peas this season because they are the first things ready. We were hoping a delayed opening of the fields may help keep people safe. We will not have any shared tools available for the fields (like scissors), and social distancing will be expected to be followed. As for the Summer Share pick up itself we are waiting for more developments as the recommendations continue to change. We will be emailing everyone in the Summer Share next week with more info (including a start date because this weather has been cray). I will give a heads up that if we do the share pick up in the barn everyone will be required to wear a mask. This is non-negotiable, so start preparing yourself if you need to. In wearing a mask you are watching out for and showing respect to the rest of your farm community by keeping your germs to yourself ;)
As for the Spring Share, this week it will include a choice of: radishes and turnips, bok choy, arugula, baby kale, scallions, garlic shoots, spring carrots, beet greens, and herbs. Everyone will also get spinach and a 4 pack of potted herbs including basil, dill, rosemary and thyme.
As always this is what we are planning to harvest this week. Come actual harvest time sometimes things change!

Spring Share #3 of 5: 5/12 +5/14 Stay the Course

by Erin and Steve on 05/10/20

I hope people haven't gotten too bummed about the weather. It hasn't been my favorite thing, either. It's either really cold or really windy, or both. I believe last Friday was the coldest on record for that date (meanwhile the western half of the country is experiencing record heat in case you were unaware). We have a few more cold nights to make it through before it warms up again...then it's gonna start raining. Ugh. This weather is making it difficult to get any work done by both farmers and crops!
I hope everyone is continuing to stay vigilant and stay healthy. Western NY is unfortunately lagging behind the rest of the state pertaining to COVID 19 cases yet. So wear your mask, wash your hands, and stay 6 feet away from your neighbors while you are in public. If you feel sick, please please please stay home. You can even get tested to make sure you do or don't have the virus. I follow all these guidelines to keep YOU healthy. I just ask that you do the same for others. If anyone is wondering what they can do for their community to help, that is it. We are doing our best to stay healthy so that we can continue to grow food for everyone!
This is a reminder that if you are quarantining or are sick, please let us know so we can set up a way to deliver veggies to your door step. Do not come to the farm if you are sick.
This week's share will include spinach, lettuce mix, and a choice of radishes, salad turnips, broccoli raab, baby kale, scallions, bok choy, chives, lovage, and zesty shoots.

Spring Share #2 of 5: May Flowers

by Erin and Steve on 05/02/20

With all the crazy going on these last 2 months, it's hard to complain about anything else. Including how cold it's been (and there is a chance for snow this week!!). We have been experiencing a lot of demand for our vegetables, and I've started feeling bad about not being able to meet people's needs. I am happy people are turning to the local food economy and hoping that they are realizing how important it is for a community to be able to raise it's own food and for farmers to make a living at it. It is important because in times of crisis everyone needs to lean on it, but in good times people tend to neglect it and small family farms serving small communities start to disappear. We want to feed more people, but we also want people of Western New York to know that we are a small cog in the Western New York local food economy. And I hope you remember from now until forever to make sure our local food economy is robust, so it will always be there in times of need.
Enough from the soap box; though there is snow in the forecast there are flowers blooming outside and fresh veggies are starting to grow a little faster. We just planted the first of our tomatoes, under cover of course, and are reminded of the joy that a fresh tomato brings.
This week's share will include: Spinach, Lettuce Mix, Zesty Shoots Mix, and a choice of arugula, baby kale, radishes, broccoli raab, salad radishes and turnips, chives, and celeriac.

Spring Share #1 of 5: 4/28+4/30: The Spring Share is NOT the Summer Share

by Erin and Steve on 04/25/20

I'm sure some of you have read a blog post with the same title in the past because, to be clear, the Spring Share is NOT the Summer Share. Everyone in the Spring Share has been sent emails from the farm. If you have received that email it is because you asked and paid to be in the Spring Share. If you did not receive an email about the Spring Share it is because you didn't want to be in the Spring Share and have not signed up for it. The Summer Share, which is the main season share, begins the first week in June. The Spring Share is starting this coming week and pick ups are at the same days and times as always Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:00 to 6:00pm
Because the 'virus which shall not be named' is now in control of everyone's everyday we have put in new measures on the farm to insure everyone's safety. If you are picking up a Spring Share (and most likely a Summer Share too once that starts) you must follow these new changes:
This is what's changing:
1) We will have a "drive-thru" service for every share member set up in the parking lot.
2) Do not exit your car, just pull up to the 1st station under the tent.
3) Roll down your window and "order" what you want so we can bag it for you.
4) We are currently not using re-usable bags. I am sorry for this, but we need to protect the 6 ft distance needed to be kept between people.
5) If you have to cough or sneeze while your window is down please cough or sneeze into your car, and not at our employees! **We encourage you to wear a mask while your window is down. This may become mandatory.**
6) As your share is bagged, pull around to the other side of the tent where you can pick up your share placed on a separate table from your car. If you have to get out of your car to reach your bags make sure that there is a minimum of 6 feet between people.
7) If there is a back up in the drive thru, please do not block traffic on the road. Just drive around the block so you can let traffic die down. There is plenty of produce so there is no need for everyone to arrive at the same time.
8) Please do not come to the farm if you are ill or in quarantine for being around someone who is ill. Please let us know your situation via phone or email and we have a volunteer to drop off your share on your doorstep.
**We want to protect our employees and you so please do not get out of your car and approach someone. A strict 6 foot distance will be enforced, and we would encourage you to stay in your car. If you have to get out of your car you are required to wear a mask.**

Thanks for your understanding and patience in advance as we work out the kinks to our new system. The share will include: salad radishes, arugula, broccoli raab, chives, cabbage, celeriac and spinach and lettuce mix. This will be the smallest share of the season because it grows as the season progresses (pun intended).

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 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

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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