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Root Down Farm Ramblings

Summer Share #3 of 21: 6/23+6/25 Stay the Course

by Erin and Steve on 06/20/20

Today is the first day of Summer, and it is HOT! This year has trended on the hot side coupled with a few record lows. Can you believe that in this hot and dry stretch of weather we are transplanting and seeding our Fall and Winter crops right now. It's kind of a mind trip to think about, but as I mentioned in the last post, the growing season in WNY is crazy fast. This may mean that the rest of our Spring crops (like broccoli, cauliflower, and leafy greens) are hating this, but it probably also means that our Summer crops (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons) are loving this. The farmers are never happy with the weather so we both love and hate it. It is difficult to work in, though.
We are all killin' it on the COVID front. Did you hear New York has the lowest infection rate in the country?? That makes me feel happy and a bit optimistic. If we can keep on the safe side and continue to follow the guidelines from the state, which clearly work because we used to have the highest rate of infection in the county, then maybe more and more we can get to a place we recognize as more normal! Though a number of you have said you like the new flow in the share room better ;) haha.
The Share this week will include: garlic scapes (for sure), and head lettuce for everyone as well as a choice of radishes, salad turnips, carrots, beets, broccoli, kohlrabi, bok choy, mustard greens, kale, and chard.

Share #2 of 21: 6/16+6/18 Even Steven and No Karens

by Erin and Steve on 06/13/20

Thank you everyone who picked up their share last week! Thank you for looking out for our little farm community and making sure everyone who has a share feels comfortable coming to the farm to pick out their veggies. I had 4 people tell me that their trip to the farm was their first time out of their house since mid-March. It makes me happy that those people who are most vulnerable in our community feel most comfortable coming to the farm. We also are thankful to Clara the volunteer who delivered a share to a family in quarantine.We also bagged shares for people who still feel that they cannot come into the share room. (This is an option for anyone who does not want to be at the farm while others are around; just call or text during your share pick up hours and we will bag a share for you and place it outside under the tent for you to pick up after 6:30). I also was told of one death as a direct result of contracting COVID19. I don't like talking about the virus, but I do think it is important to be reminded of these numbers and lives in order to stay vigilant in continuing to fight back and DO SOMETHING to stop the spread. For info on the pandemic visit
We also feel lucky that New York State as a whole is seeing declining COVID cases, and so is Erie County, which is a direct result of citizens doing their best to stop the spread. There are 19 states currently seeing a rise in cases, and quite a few hot spots scattered around the country. So thank you everyone who is doing their part in social distancing and wearing a face mask to stop the spread so we can eventually get back to normal (whatever that will eventually look like).
This is the time of year when there starts to be more to do than can be done on the farm. The growing season in WNY is short, but freaking crazy! But it's been an interesting year where something goes wrong, but something else in or out of our control goes right. Kind of like that Seinfeld episode where Jerry is Even Steven. In the episode he loses a gig and then another pops up for the same date and pay. He plays cards and ended up with same money he started with. Elaine throws a $20 bill out his apartment window and he finds a $20 in the pocket of a coat he hasn't worn in a while. We planted our first tomatoes out in the field before that crazy cold weather in May. I thought they may all die so we potted extra for our 3rd planting. Turns out they didn't all die and now we have about the same (actually a little more) tomatoes than planned. We are also having difficulties getting some supplies and seeds delivered to the farm that would normally not be a problem. A third of our sweet potato slips disappeared somewhere in the FedEx system and are probably a box of rot in some warehouse right now. But I had ordered slips from somewhere else and they packed extra and so we ended up planting about the same amount as we had planned. I wish I could think of every little instance this has happened this year, but I'll take Even Steven in a year like 2020!
I hope everyone has had a good week and we look forward to another safe share distribution that will include: Head lettuce and greens for everyone as well as a choice of carrots, radishes, beets, broccoli, bok choy, kohlrabi, salad turnips, kale, and chard. There maybe garlic scapes for everyone too; if not then they will be in next week.

Summer Share #1 of 21: 6/9+6/11 We're Starting!

by Erin and Steve on 06/06/20

Yeah for the start of the Summer Share. We often talk about how crazy we are for farming the way we farm. The amount of diversity in the crops we grow and the fact that we have to have enough for 300 families weekly for the entirety of the growing season is CRAZY! But this year farming has been the most sane thing happening. And we are happy to be able to feed you all. I hope that you have some comfort knowing that clean, healthy veggies are grown right here in your community for you.
The share room is going to look a little different this year. We've doubled the size of the share room by adding a tent to the front of the barn. There is a new exit door out the back so that you don't have to double back through the share room. There are also green dots spray painted on the floor to help you keep a 6 foot separation from the person in front and in back of you; only go to the next green dot if the person ahead of you has left their dot. And also it is mandatory to wear a mask while under the tent and in the share room (this is also state law mind you). We are excited to see all of you again, but we are going to have to wait to hug and chit chat until it's safe again, unfortunately. There is a detailed list of guidelines included in the email sent out, and then resent just yesterday. Check your spam folder and mark our email address as 'safe' if you think you didn't get it (you did ;)
The fields are looking great (knock on wood...ha), and the first share this year is a hefty one! It includes greens, head lettuce, and bok choy for everyone as well as a choice of carrots, radishes, broccoli, kale, chard, broccoli raab, sprouting tot soy, and more!

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.

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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