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Root Down Farm Ramblings

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.

Winter Share #1 of 8: 11/5+11/8 Where Did October Go?

by Erin and Steve on 11/03/18

Seriously. Where did October go? I can't believe the Summer Share for the 2018 season is over and the first Winter Share is starting already. I think all this rain and just awful dreary weather is the culprit. But we are excited to keep trooping along and continuing to harvest for the Winter Share (we are a bit behind because of the mud, but the hardest things are done for the year!).
So I have to say thanks to all you cold hardy Winter Share members because I always eat seasonally. Not just because I grow and preserve it all, but because it is what my mind and body craves this time of year. You've already heard me harp on about if you're feeling helpless about climate change, the easiest thing you can do is eat locally with the seasons (it drastically cuts down on jet fuel use ;), but also I think it is important to invest some of my time in preparing food to eat; good food. So I want to say to everyone that it is worth it to take time out of your day to invest in learning, preparing and eating seasonal vegetables and it's a great an investment in your children's future to be able to learn, too. Yes you have to put money aside to help send your kids to college, or help pay for their would-be wedding, but investing time in teaching them to take care of their health will also help them live a long, healthy life.
Sorry to go on, but everyone is so busy these days and I just do not believe that lack of time to eat well is a good excuse. I'm just saying it's well worth everyone's time and energy.
So let me step off my soapbox and tell you what is in the first Winter Share of the season: potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, carrots, beets, parsnips, purple top turnips, daikon radishes, kohlrabi, greens, parsley, scallions, celery, brussels sprouts, garlic, fresh ginger, chard, kale and collards. We also always have apples from Bittner-Singer Orchards. Just FYI as most of you know we are adamant about growing EVERYTHING we provide in our CSA vegetable shares. We are also very up front about the fact that none of the fruit in the fruit shares (and apples in the Winter Share) is grown by us. If ever there is a big crop failure and we feel a share needs to be supplemented by purchasing from another certified organic farm, then we will let you know that via labels in the share room. I am passionate about what we do and our growing practices, so if you are ever curious about anything or just want to have a conversation about it please come ask me in the share room.
Alright..bring on the Winter Share Season!

Summer Share Week #22 of 22: Final Share...Frowny Face

by Erin and Steve on 10/27/18

For everyone who was in the 2018 Summer Share season thank you so much for supporting your neighborhood farm! We had a wonderful and successful year that wouldn't have been so wonderful without you. We'd love to see your smiling face again next season, so please remember to turn in your share renewal form to hold your spot for next season! The very last Summer Share pick up is this week and it is going to feel a bit more like Winter. But we'll try our very best to make it warm and bright inside the share room.
The rain continues to dominate the Fall, which kinda sucks because Fall is my favorite season! Usually the sun comes out to shine on the changing leaves, but we haven't seen much of the sun as of late. We were able to get next year's garlic in the ground just before the next large system started this weekend. I feel like we are lucky for this. We have begun our Winter Share harvest haul, but are a bit behind because of the rains (but what's new really?).
So don't forget to ask any questions or say hello and/or goodbye this week while you are picking up your share that will include: potatoes, winter squashes, sweet potatoes, onions, carrots, beets, kohlrabi, radicchio, peppers, scallions, edamame, kale, chard, greens, butternut squash (again...we have a lot!), lettuce, brussels sprouts, leeks, celery and fresh ginger.
The final fruit share will include apple cider and quince, apples, and pears.

Summer Share #21 of 22: 10/22+10/25 Two More Shares (Renew Now)

by Erin and Steve on 10/21/18

Yes, there are only 2 more share pick ups left in the 2018 Summer Season! How quickly and simultaneously how slowly has this year been? It's like I was just complaining about the late snow falls at the end of April and now here we are at the end of October.
We still have a lot to bring in from the fields for storage for the Winter, but will also be harvesting the day of pick up for crops that aren't for storage (crops with leafy greens or short storage lives). This is another time of year that is a stark reminder of the seasonality of vegetables. I've had a few people ask about tomatoes, which are a heat loving crop that cannot really handle nighttime temperatures under 50 degrees. This time of year we are lucky to reach 50 degrees as a high for the day, so 1) we are lucky to even have tomatoes still, and 2) this year has been an awesome tomato season in WNY...it's typically about 10 weeks long if you're lucky. Eggplants and peppers are in the same family of vegetables. Though they are a little more cool weather tolerant, they really all but stop growing under 50 degrees. But the crops that prefer cooler temperature and can even handle multiple frosts are loving this weather...which are the vegetables that are abundant in the share this time of year. To boot, eating with the seasons is one of the easiest ways to help mitigate climate change!
So this week's share will include: potatoes, winter squash choice, sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, fennel, kohlrabi, onions, eggplant, sweet peppers, hot peppers, scallions, edamame, kale, chard, some tomatoes, leeks, butternut squash and garlic (or fresh ginger).
The fruit share will include apples, pears, and quince.

Summer Share #20 of 22: 10/15+10/18 Try and Try Again

by Erin and Steve on 10/13/18

The "Summer Share" as we call it starts before Spring has had a chance to end and ends well into the Fall. But somehow the "Late-Spring-To-Well-Into-Fall Share" doesn't roll off the tongue as nicely. But it is time for current members to renew their Summer Share for the 2019 season. All current members have been emailed all the info needed to do so. If you are on the waitlist you will receive an email in December or January from the farm with share info and availability.
So last week it was 80 degrees, but this week we are probably going to see our first frost of the season. We also received 5 inches of rain in one week (starting a week and a half ago) and it has done some damage to some crops. But the one crop that was looking great and was going to be harvested this coming week that suffered the most was the spinach. Ugh. This is actually the second Fall planting of spinach. The first Fall planting of Spinach failed because it was seeded in the very beginning of August when we had drought-like-conditions and it never properly germinated. Awesome. So, to sum up: one planting failed because it was too hot and dry and the next planting made it to maturity only for half of it to die due to too wet conditions. Now spinach can be finicky, but come on! Maybe you would think that that is where the story ends, but it's not. I then planted a third planting of spinach to make up for the first, but you have to watch out how late you seed stuff here in WNY because it may not mature in time before it gets too cold. So that's what's happening with that planting PLUS about a third of it died because of the 5 inches of rain. So needless to say there will be some spinach in the share this week, but only about 50% of what there should be.
The rest of this week's share will include: potatoes, winter squash choice, radicchio, fennel, kohlrabi, beets, carrots, cauliflower, eggplant, peppers, chard, kale, scallions, onions, lettuce, greens, pumpkin squash, garlic, edamame, and brussels sprouts.
The fruit share will include quince, apples and pears.

Summer Share #19 of 22: 10/8 +10/11- Making Sense of It All

by Erin and Steve on 10/06/18

I've had a few conversations recently about the way food is grown and the terms used to describe it. If you know me at all you know I hate the term "Home Grown" because it makes absolutely no sense. It insinuates the food was grown in someone's back yard, and hides the exact growing practices and location it came from. But that's not the only terms used to market food that get me.
Hydroponics is somehow getting mixed in with the same crowd as organic, but it is not. Hydroponics simply grows produce in water, and since there is no soil to nurture the plant growers add all kinds of chemicals to feed the crop. The reason we grow in the soil is because the nutrients the vegetables need to grow are provided by our soil (as long as we care for the soil through cover cropping, composting and crop rotation among other things). In hydroponics there isn't any soil to provide nutrients. So growers add tubs of liquefied chemicals that are not regulated by organic certifiers to take the place of soil. If a label says "hydroponically grown" it by no means is any better than any other conventionally grown produce out there.
Now the last term I'm going to mention is just as annoying, but maybe gaining more traction recently: "Amish Grown". Once again this term is not regulated and it contains no information about how it was grown and where it came from. Amish people use just as much chemicals and plastics as other conventional farmers. Once again the term does not mean it's any better, healthier, or fresher than any other conventionally grown produce out there.
If some of these marketing terms annoy you as much as they do me the best thing to do is actually talk to the farmer that is growing the produce you intend to purchase.
When Steve and I started Root Down Farm CSA we did it because we are passionate about growing produce for people in our community and showing the value in family farms. If you ever have any questions about the farm and our growing practices or general questions about food at all please feel free to start a conversation in the share room while you are picking up your share. I have no shortage of opinions!
This week's share grown by us to organic standards includes: potatoes, winter squash, fennel, kohlrabi, beets, carrots, onions, eggplant, peppers, hot pepers, chard, kale, broccoli, flowering broccoli, radicchio, bok choy, lettuce, leeks, and spaghetti squash.
The fruit share will include asian pears, bartletts, apples, peaches and quince.

Summer Share #18 of 22: 10/1+10/4 The Last Month

by Erin and Steve on 09/29/18

It seems we've really turned a corner in the season here and Fall came in quickly. This means that we still have a ton of harvesting to do regardless of the weather because it's just that time of year. There is always a lot of farm clean up to do as well, which just isn't as fun! But with the arrival of October comes the final month of the Summer Share season. We have 5 more distributions including this week and the final pick up is the week of the 29th. We will have share renewal during this time as well where all current members can renew their share for next year. Look for more information on that next week.
As for us we start thinking about the Winter Share haul and I start worrying if we can get it all done at the right time (because in addition to the Fall rains we also have the first frost and freeze to contend with). I also start wanting to consume more hot beverages, specifically ones containing pumpkin spice. I know it's a bit annoying, but there is a time and place for pumpkin spice and a cold harvest morning is one of those times.
So look for the continued changes in the share room produce and savor the ones whose season is ending! This week's share will include potatoes, winter squashes, kohlrabi, fennel, radishes, turnips, flowering broccoli, peppers, eggplants, hot peppers, bok choy, salad greens, beets, lettuce, celery, escarole, garlic and kale and chard and maybe some broccoli, too.
The fruit share will include pears, apples, peaches, and grapes.

Summer Share #17: 9/24+9/27 Here's to Fall!

by Erin and Steve on 09/22/18

Fall starts today and since it was almost 90 degrees yesterday, I will take the high of 61 degrees today. I'm excited for Fall, but that also means the first frost date of the season is on it's way: October 10th is the average. So that means that though the tomatoes have really run the full marathon this year the lower temperatures mean it's the end for them. The remaining Summer crops are the eggplant and peppers, so savor them while they last! This also signals the end of the U-pick fields for the year as they have to get cleaned up and cover cropped to be ready for next year.
Maybe this cooler weather will also remind you to bring your Winter Share payments with you to the farm this week and sign up for the Winter Share. We only have about 10 shares left! We will be opening up the Winter Share membership to the general public after this week, so make sure to reserve one if you've meant to, but haven't already.
So this week's share will include: potatoes, winter squash choice, carrots, beets, kohlrabi, eggplant, sweet peppers, fennel, bok choy, hot peppers, salad radishes, salad greens, tomatoes, lettuce, celery, escarole, and pumpkins!
The fruit share will include: Apples, pears, peaches and plums.


Summer Share #16 of 22: 9/17+9/20 A Tomato A Day

by Erin and Steve on 09/15/18

That's right, it is the 16th week of the share which marks the 10th week of tomatoes in the share. I am insanely happy about this not because we've never done it before (because we have), but because there are still decent tomatoes out in the fields and in a year where many farmers all over the country are dealing with extremely adverse weather conditions our plants are marching on. Now this is the classic 'count your chickens before they've hatched' scenario, but we are thankful for the tomato harvest this season. So I know that on your end of things it may be a chore to make sure to eat your tomatoes, but believe me it is all for the best. I just can't bring myself to think of the foam tomatoes that are everywhere when they aren't in season (yes they literally taste like foam). The tomato season is fleeting, so really enjoy it, because next week I could be writing about how they are all gone for the season.
We are also still signing up current members for the Winter Share, so please remember to bring your payment with you when you come to pick up your share this week. This is what will be in the summer share this week: potatoes, winter squash, carrots, beets, onions, salad radishes, peppers, eggplant, hot peppers, bok choy, greens, fennel, head lettuce, celery escarole, and the amazing tomato!
The fruit share will include raspberries, peaches, plums and pears.

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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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