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Root Down Farm Ramblings

Summer Share Week #17 of 22: 9/24 + 9/26 Climate Strike

by Erin and Steve on 09/23/19

I hope people were able to voice their concerns or listen to others about climate change this past weekend. There is a week long climate strike happening around the world right now and I hope we can come up with some solutions soon to help mitigate climate change. Nothing like an 89 degree day at the end of September (preceded by2 other 80 degree days) to hit the point home.
I spent part of my weekend at Urgent Care, which is why this blog post is late (sorry). My sinus problems due to allergies were horrible in the thick air this weekend. Then on Sunday I started having problems breathing because of it. But all is well and I have a brand new inhaler to carry with me.
So the share this week is plentiful and I hope you are all enjoying the abundance of your share. This week will include: Hella Broccoli!, potatoes, spaghetti squash, delicatas, and buttercups, carrots, beets, turnips, radishes, kohlrabi, onions, peppers, eggplant, hot peppers, cauliflower, brussuls sprout tops, flowering broccoli, edamame, bok choy, tomatoes, acorn squash, greens, garlic, and a Jack-O-Lantern for everyone.
The fruit share will include grapes, peaches, apples, plums and pears.

Summer Share #16 of 22: 9/17+9/19- Taking Time

by Erin and Steve on 09/15/19

**Don't forget to bring your payment for the Winter Share and sign up at this week's Summer Share pick up**
Throughout the week things come up that make me think to myself 'That would be a good thing to blog about'. Unfortunately memory can be fleeting and I rarely remember the ideas when I sit down to blog. The one (of many) things that stuck with me this week is an incident in the share room that made me want to remind everyone to slow the heck down. Apply it to everything, everywhere, all the time. I need to do it, too.
Anyway, Steve and I were actually able to leave the farm this weekend so I apologize to anyone who was expecting a post earlier. But harvest season is in full effect and we needed to take a small respite beforehand. 
So enjoy the bounty. I know the shares are big right now, but that's a good thing!! This week will include: potatoes, winter squash choice, carrots, beets, peppers, eggplant, hopefully broccoli (iffy because we are in-between plantings), hot peppers, kohlrabi, spinach, salad radishes and turnips, tomatoes, spaghetti squash, edamame, bok choy, celery, head lettuce, and escarole.
The fruit share will include organic raspberries, peaches, plums, pears and apples.

Summer Share #15 of 22: 9/10+9/12 WINTER SHARE SIGN UPS START!

by Erin and Steve on 09/08/19

The Winter Share will start signing up current shareholders during share pick up this week. Please bring your payment (the share costs $240) with you when you sign up in the share room. We typically fill up in 3 weeks so don't delay! Visit the we 'shares' tab on the website and scroll down to the winter share link and click on it for more info. Or bring your questions with you to the share room.
As the weather cools for the season (but not for good, this week is looking pretty warm) we keep focusing on the harvest and less and less on weeds and bugs. It's a relief of sorts, but the time crunch is still there. We are going to start topping the brussels sprouts this week. We take the tops off the plants so that it will shift it's focus to making larger sprouts. It's a similar concept to taking the garlic scapes off. So look for brussels sprout tops in the share. If you think they sound crazy I guarantee that if you give them a legitimate shot you'll end up loving them. We are still bringing in the fall and winter squashes, as some of you on Thursday witnessed Steve driving the tractor back and forth from the fields on Shimerville and Roll Rds to the barn carrying bins and boxes full of squashes. We will soon focus on the sweet potato harvest followed by the potatoes, and all the winter roots. It'll take from now until the end of October to get everything out of the ground while also doing everything else we have to do for the CSA and wholesale accounts. The beginning of the end of the growing season has started...I'm trying not to get tired just thinking about the work!
This week's share will continue with a full load. I know the shares have been large these past few weeks, but let's enjoy it! How amazing is this region we live in to provide such abundance and variety? I'm always in awe of it every year. This week's share will include: potatoes, spaghetti squash, acorn squash, carrots, beets, kohlrabi, summer squash, cucumbers, broccoli, peppers, eggplant, hot peppers, scallions, onions, salad radishes, bok choy, melons, head lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, and those brussels sprout tops!
**The fruit share will be a share and a half this week due to the late start. It will include table grapes, peaches, plums and pears (and maybe apples??).

Summer Share #14 of 22- 9/3+9/5: The Crazy Continues

by Erin and Steve on 09/01/19

***Just FYI, we will be signing up Winter Shares starting next week. More info coming to your inbox soon!***
The crazy harvest days continue this week. I'm pretty sure that this coming week will be the last weeding we'll have to do for 2019.That's a direct result of temperatures dropping. Nighttime temperatures are important this time of year because if they start dropping below 50 degrees the tomatoes start to protest. Also the fall and winter squashes start coming in from the fields, but the summer squashes and cucumbers are going to be plowed in because they are done for the season.
So it's on to harvest, harvest, harvest for us mostly from now until Thanksgiving. Of course it can be fun, but it is the heaviest time of the year for us. And there is a time crunch involved which adds to the crazy. Here we go!
This week's share will include: potatoes, summer squash, cucumbers, carrots, beets, peppers, eggplant, bok choy, kohlrabi, winter squash, kale, chard, broccoli, melons, tomatoes, celery, escarole, spinach and choice of salad greens.
The fruit share will include organic raspberries, peaches, nectarines and plums.

Summer Share #13 of 22: 8/27 + 8/29 A Chill

by Erin and Steve on 08/25/19

This is the 3rd day in a row I've had to wear a sweatshirt because of the chill in the air in the morning. It's a great time of year to have your windows open in the house. It makes working conditions pretty nice, too.The cooler weather crops are liking this weather, too. You'll see a small change in the share this week, but a big one in the coming weeks as the vegetable varieties start to change with the changing night time temperatures and day length.
So again, I have to remind everyone not to rush to pumpkin lattes and apples, there is plenty of time for that. Savor the summer squash, cucumbers, tomatoes and melons and peaches...all the fleeting crops that I'm sure some people whined about at one point already. I eat cucumbers like it is nobody's business during the summer, because they are only available for about 10 to 12 weeks out of the year. That's 40 weeks without fresh cucumbers (this isn't counting the pickles I make and can). Same with tomatoes.
So let's celebrate the insane bounty of the share this week (the shares have been ginormous these past few weeks and this week is no different) and accept the changing seasons as they happen! This week's share will include: potatoes, zucchini, summer squash, cucumbers, onions, carrots, beets, peppers, eggplant, hot peppers, kohlrabi, melons, chard, kale, tomatoes, cabbage, bok choy, lettuce and sweet corn.
The fruit share will include seedless table grapes, peaches and plums.

Summer Share #12 of 22: 8/20+8/22- Thunder

by Erin and Steve on 08/18/19

Steve and I worked on an organic dairy that also had a horse powered market garden with a small CSA when we lived in Vermont. There was a steer there that I really liked. He was huge, but calm and a bit ho-hum. This isn't typical of steers who are known more for their obnoxious antics. The steer's name was Thunder because his mother gave birth to him in the pasture in the middle of a thunderstorm. The name fit his stature, but not his demeanor.
I think of Thunder the steer when I think of Summer thunderstorms because when you're a farmer a bunch of thunderstorms can be really bad, especially for vegetables. But Thunder the steer is a good memory. Thunderstorms bring in heavy winds, big rain drops and plant diseases. I know I'm going to get asked a couple times this week if 'all this rain is good for the plants'? A ton of rain all at once is generally not good for anything. And thunderstorms at the end of August are usually the mark of the end for cucumbers and summer squashes and dare I say tomatoes in our growing region.
Other crops that love the Fall are doing well, though. And soon you'll see some of the crops we grew in the Spring start returning as well as the ones we grow only in the Fall. The plants dictate their growing seasons, not us, which is why eating with the seasons is a bit magical (and is a simple thing everyone can do to help combat climate change to boot ;).
So if you haven't gotten the subtle hints make sure to get your pickling cukes and canning tomatoes for the season while you are here! Paste tomatoes will be in the share room this week, too, and cherry tomatoes in the u-pick.
This week's share will include: potatoes, zucchini, summer squash, cucumbers, cabbage, scallions, onions, fennel, carrots, peppers, eggplant, beets, melons, chard, kale, tomatoes, head lettuce or lettuce mix and maybe sweet corn again. I say maybe about the sweet corn because it might not be ready on Tuesday or maybe even Thursday for that matter. In any case it will eventually be in the share if not this week.
The fruit share will be similar to last week with plums and peaches and nectarines.

Summer Share Week #11 of 22: Halfway

by Erin and Steve on 08/11/19

Week 11 is always a week to note during the CSA season because it marks the halfway point for the Summer Share. For us it marks a shift in energy from frantic and crazy to maintaining and harvesting. Mostly by this point you can look at the fields and literally reap what we've sown. The struggles of the season are apparent at this point (cool, and wet seems to be the theme for this year) as well as the successes. The end date for cover cropping is rapidly approaching; mid-September marks the last date for summer cover crops. The typical first frost of the season is 2 months out which is a deadline for getting some crops out of the fields. I'm happy because by the end of this month hopefully the bugs will take a chill pill.
Following that thought, I just want to make sure that everybody knows we grow all the vegetables and melons and herbs and flowers at the farm. This is the way we've always operated. Every piece of veg you put in your mouth has been seeded by hand in the greenhouse, or by a push seeder in the field, or a pull-type seeder that is pulled by our tractor. Our fields are on the corner of Shimerville and Roll Roads. There is 25+ acres on that corner. I have to make a statement like this every year because we get some strange questions in the share room. The latest one was:
Customer: "Where were these tomatoes grown?"
Share room volunteer: "In the field."
Customer: "Are they local?"
I try not to get worked up over questions like that last one because in my mind I've put so much of my life energy into growing great tasting and healthy vegetables (and melons) for people that it is an insult to me when someone asks me where I've purchased produce. We don't purchase produce. Only the fruit share is purchased because we do not have orchards and our CSA customers wanted access to local fruit. The fruit in the fruit shares are not annuals; we grow annuals.
I would encourage anyone to come talk to me and ask questions about our produce because I've seeded, grown, tended, and harvested it all. The share pick up takes place at my home and all this means a lot to me. It's important to me that our community has access to produce grown without synthetic chemicals (ie organic) that is super fresh and connects people to a specific piece of farmland. In turn I hope our community as a whole is healthier, happier, and connected. This is also important to me.
So I know last week's share was huge, but this week's share is equally awesome. It includes: potatoes, zucchini, summer squash, cucumbers (yes, more cukes...enjoy them while they are here, they do not like this cool stormy weather), carrots, beets, cabbage, onions, peppers, fennel, chard, scallions, lettuce mix, cantaloupes, garlic, and tomatoes.
The fruit share will include apricots, clingstone peaches, nectarines, and hopefully plums.
The first cherry tomatoes of the season are ready in the upick field!

Summer Share #10 of 22: Real Summertime

by Erin and Steve on 08/03/19

There are officially 7 more weeks of Summer. That is almost 2 more months of Summer, which means that we are only a little over a third of the way through the season because Summer is 3 months long. So why are people saying the Summer is almost over...IN THE BEGINNING OF AUGUST? Now you're probably saying to yourself, 'because school is going to start soon'. School starts almost 5 weeks from now. Now my mother used to get mad at me when I would say "Just chill out" to her, but seriously just chill out and enjoy the real Summertime! Stop worrying about when you're going to have to purchase a pumpkin to put on your porch. It's Summer not almost Fall.
To add to that the Summer crops had to endure a freakin cold, wet Spring so I am going to enjoy the Summertime bounty while I can. Why? Because you can't beat the flavor. Seriously. So enjoy this week's share that includes: zucchini, summer squashes, cucumbers, carrots, beets, radicchio, cabbage, scallions, fresh onions, peppers, some eggplant, maybe...we'll see, head lettuce, potatoes, canteloupe (we harvest these fresh just like everything else here so do not put them on your counter; if you do not understand this statement come talk to me and I'll explain how grocery stores work as opposed to farms), tomatoes, more cucumbers, fennel, kale, and chard. The fruit share will include blueberries, apricots, and plums.

Summer Share #9 of 22: 7/30+8/1 Well, duh

by Erin and Steve on 07/27/19

A lot of the times I'm scanning news headlines online, or articles recommended for me that pop up on Mozilla I'll stumble across an article about food. Honestly I usually read the headline, think to myself "well duh", and then move on. The latest headline I read was "Eating Whole Fruits and Vegetables Make You Happier". Well, duh. If you've ever seen the documentary "Super Size Me" you already know that. Or maybe you know from your own personal experience. But that documentary came out in 2004, and here in 2019 someone completed an experiment that tells you if you eat real food you'll feel better. Well, duh!
If you can remember, or maybe you never saw the Super Size Me (which you should), it follows a man who is in good shape and young that has decided to eat McDonalds at every meal for a month. There are a lot of crazy things that happen not only to his physique, but also to his mind, motivation, energy levels, and his stamina... if you get my drift ;). No duh you feel like crap when you eat crap (that would be my working title to the aforementioned article).
But if your body, and your mind for that matter, is used to or addicted to processed, fake sweetened and flavored foods then you can retrain your taste buds. You can do this by eating better. Don't buy peanut butter with added oils and sugars. Don't like it at first? Just keep eating it and eventually your taste buds will adjust. Seriously. This is true for kids, too. Not just the ill effects of an unhealthy diet, but also their taste buds will adjust once they start eating differently.
Good thing we have the freshest vegetables you'll find (because we harvest right before you come to the farm). This does mean that eating seasonally is best as well. Which this season means Summer produce is later than normal. This week's share will include: potatoes, zucchini, summer squash, cucumbers, carrots, beets, onions, radicchio, kale, greens, peppers (only a little for the first time), kohlrabi, scallions, cabbage, collards, and tomatoes! (these are only just coming in, too, so get excited but not too excited :)
The fruit share will be sweet cherries, apricots and plums. Bulk cherry orders should be here this week as well.

Summer Share #8 of 22: 7/23+7/25 July, it's July

by Erin and Steve on 07/21/19

Steve and I laughed out loud a few days ago when an employee asked what the hardest month of the year is for us. It's JULY!! There is so much in the ground right now: we still have crops that were seeds/transplanted into the field the first day we could get in (around April 15th) and now we are seeding and transplanting crops we will be harvesting into November. They are all in the ground at the same time, plus the larger harvests have started, including garlic. Plus the bugs are now full on, plus the weeds are truly loving this heat. Plus we still have more seeding and transplanting to do while we also take care of all the crops already in the ground all at different stages of life. Yes, July is the busiest month.
But with the cold Spring we've had, some of the Summer heat loving crops were pushed back. The weather held them back from maturing at their normal pace and here we are in week 8 of the share and the tomatoes look like they MIGHT think about MAYBE starting to ripen sometime soon. So I am thinking they are still at least 2 weeks out, unfortunately. Eggplants will be more like 2-3 weeks I think. The peppers are looking like they may be ready soon-ish. The beans are finally flowering...again they are probably 2 weeks out. But when they come in it will be glorious and looking like bountiful, barring any extreme weather events. I always have to put in that caveat because it seems like we've dodged some bullets recently when it comes to extreme weather. Soon enough it will be our turn.
So the best thing to do is enjoy the bounty we have, because the other vegetables are pulling their weight, big time! The cucumbers are unbelievable right now (I just keep thinking about cucumber juice or water on these hot days). And we have a number of different varieties of squashes. I know people can take zucchini and summer squash for granted, but it really is only in season 14 to 15 weeks out of the year. So make sure to get your squash dishes on ;)
This week's share will include new potatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, cousa and patty pan squash, cucumbers, carrots, beets, kohlrabi, fennel, cabbage, fresh onions and scallions, salad turnips, head lettuce, greens, radicchio (everyone is getting one, so plan on it in a meal this week!), and kale, chard, collards choice. The fruit share will likely be just cherries again as other fruits are behind as well because of the cold, damp Spring.
**Fruit shares don't forget to pick up your bulk pitted cherries if you ordered them this week.

Summer Share #7 of 22: 7/16+7/18 Lookin' Good

by Erin and Steve on 07/14/19

Steve and I go on what we call 'field walks' once a week, usually on a Sunday morning with coffees in our hands. Early in the year the field walks don't take as long because there isn't as much field to walk. We also got caught in a couple downpours then. But this time of year it takes a good hour + to walk all the fields checking out everything from plant health to weed pressure, from bugs to harvest readiness. We make notes the whole time trying to plan out our week. Sometimes there are areas of the fields I'd rather ignore and others I want to photograph for Instagram. But this week things are looking good, and I feel comfortable with all of it. Yes some crops are still lagging behind, but I have a feeling when they ripen it will be a huge harvest at the jump (think tomatoes).
This week's share will include: zucchini, summer squash, cucumbers, new potatoes, carrots, beets, scallions, kohlrabi, fennel, cabbage, kale, salad turnips, escarole, and salad greens. The fruit share will be cherries.

Summer Share #6 of 22: 7/9+7/11- Transitions (plus the Fruit Share is Starting!)

by Erin and Steve on 07/07/19

Transitioning from one thing to another can be difficult. I don't care if people think transitions are harder for children, because they are hard for all of us. Transitioning from one thing to another, one place to another, from one focus to another: It's difficult. And filling the gap (or the transition ;) from one season to another on a farm during a difficult weather year can be trying. It's awesome how different this season is from the last. Last year was super hot, which had some pros and cons. And this year started out super wet and unseasonably chilly. We are still experiencing side effects from the atrocious Spring weather and as we transition from Spring crops to Summer crops it's an awkward part of the year. But the harvests continue to roll in and I am amazed every day at the resilience of life on the farm. Any time I prep myself to complain about the weather I have to stick my foot in my mouth because our cooler isn't big enough to hold the bounty from the fields. Seriously we need a new cooler!
So keeping that in mind, the share this week reflects the seasonality of our region as well as the crazy weather we've experienced. This week's share will include: Broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, yellow squash, patty pan squash, cucumbers, salad turnips and radishes, fennel, radicchio, bok choy, garlic scapes, kale, chard, salad greens, scallions, head lettuce, collards, kohlrabi, cabbage and escarole.
The fruit share starts this week with sweet and tart cherries.

Summer Share #5 of 22-7/2+7/4: Shoptalk; Thursday pick up 1-4:45

by Erin and Steve on 06/30/19

There are a few things we the farmers want to convey to you the eaters that aren't necessarily related, so here it goes:
All you Thursday picker uppers remember that Thursday is the 4th so therefor we will have pick up times moved up to 1 - 4:45** Obviously some people still work on the 4th so if you are only able to arrive a little later or want us to put a share together for you to pick up at a later time please call us to set that up. Otherwise we'll see you from 1 - 4:45 ;)
Also we have some sad news about the u pick fields this year. They probably got the brunt of the wet/cold Spring (the soil type in those fields are heavier clay-based soils) and we lost the peas and more than half of the first planting of beans to rot and an obscene amount of slug damage...which is caused by wet/cool weather. We also had some of the flowers die after being transplanted. I am saying this because I can already hear comments about how the UPick is usually better, which it usually is, but we were unable to convince Mother Nature to give us a normal Spring. Now that being said the flowers that survived are growing, the tomatoes look great, the 2nd planting of beans is gang-busters so it's not all doom and gloom. But I think the upick fields will sputter along a bit before they kick it up to the normal gear.
As you might have heard a lot of plants across the region are behind due to the cold/wet Spring. This includes our garlic (which were a week later than ever), the fruit share (cherries will be in at the start of the share which is July 9th and 11th, also a week late), and the summer crops! The tomatoes are just now making small green fruits, the peppers and eggplants are mostly still flowering, the corn is not knee high yet, and the melons are also just starting to flower. I just checked the first of the potatoes as well and it looks like those are at least a couple weeks behind normal as well. It all means that they will be arriving in the share room late, too.
I'm sure you've noticed, but I thought I'd add that we ordered more Mix-and-Match re-usable bags. They are made from recycled cotton and are being sold at cost ($7) in the share room. Just ask for one.
And finally this is what is in this week's share: Broccoli and broccoli shoots, broccolini, zucchini, yellow squash, we're hoping for some cucumbers, cauliflower, turnips, radishes, kohlrabi, fennel, radicchio, bok choy, garlic scapes, kale, chard, fava beans, beets, head lettuce, and salad greens.

Summer Share #4 of 22: 6/25 + 6/27 Summer is Officially Here

by Erin and Steve on 06/23/19

Yeah for the beginning of Summer, and hopefully it will start feeling like it around here! I'm sure if you are calling around to u-pick farms in the area in search of strawberries or wondering about the start of cherry season I'm sure you've found that everything is late! Our garlic scape crop is coming in a full week later than normal. For the previous 8 years they have always been part of week #3 of the share, but instead you'll see them this week, week #4. On that note, for everyone in the fruit share it will be starting a week later than normal because cherries are a week behind, too. So if you signed up for the fruit share (an email is coming) it will start Tuesday the 9th or Thursday the 11th.
The weather is making us even more organized than before, making sure we get all the work we need to get done while the sun is shining and the fields are dry enough to be in and balancing that with the wet times, where we can spend more time in the high tunnels or working on projects. But we sure have not had to irrigate, which I think is contributing to the feeling that the Summer really isn't here yet. But the zucchini and summer squash are on their way, I'm not sure if we'll get a sneak peek of them this week or not, but the overnight temperatures are looking good, so cross your fingers!
This week's share will include: broccoli, broccolini (last week for this), radishes, turnips, kale, chard, collards, salad greens, beets, broccoli raab bok choy, kohlrabi, garlic scapes, and head lettuce.

Summer Share #3 of 22- 6/18+6/20 It's Late June, Time to Complain (just a little)

by Erin and Steve on 06/16/19

Oh what a weekend I've had. It was wicked windy on Friday, to the point where it limited some work we could do. And then I woke up on Saturday and IT WAS STILL WINDY! I know my last post was about how it's still Spring and I know we get wind storms in the Spring, but not this late! and not sustained for this long! So Saturday morning we went out to check the fields and one of the row covers (40x200 foot sheet) had blown completely off the watermelon we just transplanted and the cantaloupe sheet was halfway off as well. In the wind we couldn't get the watermelon cover back on so we just had to secure it in place and subject our little seedlings to the torment of the weather. We then had to cancel our plans to leave the farm because we had to check everything that could be a affected by the wind on the hour every hour. So by about 5 pm we thought it was calm enough to leave the farm so we headed out and as I was on Transit Road with my blinker on and braking before my turn when someone flippin' rear-ended me...flat breaking on his part. And as we are talking after the accident it started to rain! AAAAHHHHHH! So then we just went back home. I hope you all had a way more productive and fulfilling weekend than I did, especially you dads out there. Sometimes it feels like I should just 'pack it up' for the day and try again tomorrow; sometimes you just can't win.
But we went for our weekly field walk on Sunday, delayed due to the wind on Saturday, and though the crops have endured some crappy weather, including way too much rain, they are surprisingly doing well. I can't believe the broccoli crop right now, and we were pleasantly surprised by others like the first cabbage of the season is in. The onions, after being planted in a wetter area of the farm looked like they are bouncing back (hopefully they can handle this latest deluge). So it looks like the mix-and-match will be in full effect in the share this week. Woohoo!
This week's share will include: carrots, broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, broccolini, salad radishes and turnips, beet greens, broccoli raab, kale, chard, collards, bok choy, salad greens, spinach, and head lettuce. Yes, head lettuce will be in the share for a few more weeks because this is the time of year it really shines! So get your dressing ready because it's salad season. And if you or your significant other is thinking something like "I like bacon", or "I eat sausage every morning", then great. Crumble that up and put it on a salad.

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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