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Root Down Farm Ramblings

Spring Share #3 of 5: 5/11+5/13 Mother's Day Weekend

by Erin and Steve on 05/08/21

Yeah for Mommas everywhere...hopefully you can spend your Mother's Day not having to mother! Ha. I always like this weekend because the trees are flowering and (usually) the weather is warming. The crops are growing both inside and outside the tunnels and more and more of the fields are being prepped for the season. Hopefully the soil outside will warm enough to start being able to germinate warmer-weather-loving seeds, too.
This week's Spring Share (which is not the Summer Share) is looking bountiful and hopefully asparagus will start popping up in the share soon. This week's share will include: radishes and sweet salad turnips, carrots, bok choy, bunched greens, herbs, shoots, lettuce and spinach. Woohoo!

Spring Share #2 of 5: 5/4+5/6 Take It Easy

by Erin and Steve on 05/01/21

I like the saying 'Take it easy'. It's something I remember my dad saying as he ended conversations with other adults when I was a kid. I didn't think much about it, just adopted the saying myself until it became dated. But I'm starting to really like the saying again. "It" could mean anything, but make sure to approach "it" with ease, calm. At some point before 2020 somehow people were measuring their worth by how busy they were. Then it became an excuse to be treated differently...because "I'm so busy". Hopefully we don't go back to valuing spending most of our days in cars speeding around trying to do too many things that don't actually add any value to our lives. Take it easy. Plus it's a great song by the Eagles, too. Ha.
Anyone curious about our collective experiences with the COVID vaccine please feel free to ask. The last crew member to get their second dose is getting it on Monday the 3rd. Half of us got the feeling like our body was fighting something off, the other half had no symptoms after the second shot. **But you know both of these experiences are normal...just our bodies making antibodies ;) Everyone was back to normal within 24 hours of the shot. Also, our volunteers are also almost all vaccinated, too! How awesome is that.
This week's Spring Share (which is not the Summer Share, remember?) will include: Kale, salad radishes, carrots, arugula, herbs, shoots, spinach, lettuce, and bok choy.

Spring Share #1 of 5: 4/27+4/29- The Spring Share is Not the Summer Share

by Erin and Steve on 04/23/21

YYaasss! the Spring Share is starting next week in the face of two days worth of snow! For those who don't know, the Spring Share is a smaller share that starts prior to the start of the main season Summer CSA Share and lasts for 5 weeks. It's chock full of greens and other things that are only available in the Spring (think asparagus, garlic shoots, etc.). Why are they only available in the Spring?...because that's nature and we are all at it's whim so enjoy these special treats while they last.
**Side note- fresh asparagus isn't stringy. Whaaat?? you ask. It's true. All that stuff you buy either at a grocery store or off a menu that has asparagus available outside of Springtime is most likely grown in a different hemisphere and shipped here. Therefore it's not as fresh and becomes stringy. Fresh asparagus can be eaten raw and is crisp.** end side note ;)
Despite the cold snap the Springtime veggies are ready for your fridge. Next week's harvest launches the start to bigger, more regular harvests for the entire crew that will continue into November. Steve and I are getting our second vaccine this Sunday and our entire crew will be completely vaccinated by the end of the first week of May! It's such a liberating feeling; I've got an extra pep in my step (but of course after the shot I might feel a bit drowsy, we'll see).
**Side note- Am I the only one who can remember getting vaccines when I was a kid? I have a memory in elementary school waiting in line outside the music room to get a MMR booster (measles, mumps, and rubella). It was during class, and a required thing to be in class. We all got the booster and went back to class. And here I am 31 years later, getting a vaccine and low and behold it feels like I remember. Nobody? I'm the only one? **end side note
Everyone in the Spring share was sent at least 2 emails to remind ya'll that the share is starting next week and what to do to grab your veggies. This year the Spring Share will return to the share room in the barn and run much like the way the Summer and Winter Shares of last year were run. Just like the Summer Share, the amount of variety and the size of the share will grow as the season progresses. But the best tasting greens are grown in the Spring!
The first Spring Share will include: arugula, kale, radishes, herbs, garlic shoots, lettuce, and spinach. Remember to bring your mask ;)

Spring Share is Coming Up

by Erin and Steve on 04/17/21

The Spring Share (which is not the Summer Share... that starts in June), is starting the last Tuesday/Thursday of April. We sent out emails to everyone in the share earlier in the week. The share pick up will be in the barn's share room this season (last season's Spring Share was done in a drive-thru method because of the outbreak of COVID). The Spring Share runs for 5 weeks and pick up is from 4 to 6:00pm. Masks are still required to enter the share room and there is still the 6 foot spacing required between all customers in order to make sure everyone stays healthy (my what a small price to pay to help a neighbor).
This warm weather has got things turning green, and even the trees are starting to show some tiny leaves! It is always such an exciting time of year. We are planting and seeding as much as the weather allows. We just seeded the last seed of the Spring Share last week while also putting the first transplants for the Summer Share out into the big field.
The greenhouse is filled to the brim with heat loving crops like tomatoes. So much so that we are having to do a little 'Greenhouse Shuffle' between greenhouse 1 and 2 and the hardening off tables between them. It's all a process to get them ready to lead their own little lives out in the big, big field. Here's to a wonderful 2021 for our whole farm community!

My How Time Flies

by Erin and Steve on 04/10/21

Wow, I knew I took a small break from the weekly updates, but I didn't think it was a whole month! The weather has been so unseasonably warm that we've been a lot busier than normal at this point in the season. The Springs have been getting warmer and earlier every year usually followed by some cold, wet weather come May. So that is what we are planning will happen.
This warmer, drier weather is making it easier to get all the field work done that cold wet weather usually prevents from happening. It is the goal of all farmers to get on their land as early as the weather allows, and to just work until the weather stops you. But not this season. We have already worked our early fields and spread compost on all of them. We are getting cover cropping done and some field crop seeding done already, too (ie carrots, spinach, and salad turnips).
But the hammer will inevitably fall at some point and it will be a struggle to stay on schedule. But for now we're just getting stuff done, including our vaccinations for COVID! How wonderful will it be when I won't have to bring a mask with me to work because by the end of this month everyone here on the farm will be vaccinated!!
Here's to another wonderful season on the farm ;)

March Payment and The Savage Wheat Project

by Erin and Steve on 02/24/21

Woohoo, the sun is out an the snow is melting. I was wondering if this Winter was going to be like last Winter with not much snow, but February showed up luckily and it's been snowing everyday. Though I do love a sunny snowy day, I'm ready for some of the white stuff to melt a little. Maybe so there isn't so much pushing against the sides of our greenhouses and tunnels!
We just sent out a member wide email to update payment reminders (due March 1st) and to announce our collaboration with Emily from The Savage Wheat Project. She has started her own bakery after working at Elm Street Bakery in East Aurora, and The Grange Community Kitchen in Hamburg. She is buying up seeds of ancient grains and growing them out in hopes of creating locally produced ancient grains to use in her baking. This is the second year she has been growing a small plot of ancient grains here on our farm. She has grown out enough black einkorn that Steve was able to seed a half acre plot with it. Ancient grains are hard to find, and aren't readily available which is why she is having to start with a small handful of each of the varieties of grain and growing what she has, harvesting by hand, and repeating the next season until there is enough to grow on a commercial level. It is a big undertaking, but if any of you have had problems digesting baked goods than you should thank her for her efforts! and sign up for a bakery share too!
That's right, you can sign up for a seasons worth of baked goods to pick up when you are at the farm grabbing your veggies. Or you can do a weekly a la carte order depending on your preference. Each share contains a bread, breakfast item, snack, and dessert. Look for the email with ways to sign up!
The Savage Wheat Project's Facebook page is here:

The Wait List Saga

by Erin and Steve on 02/10/21

This season has resulted in the best customer retention rate we have ever had! What exactly does this mean? We had more people renew their share from last season to this coming season than ever before. We are proud of this because I think it means we are doing something right, but also it gives me anxiety because we were not able to accept that many new members for 2021. I am sorry for that. We really only had about 15 spots open.
So if you have been on the wait list, then you should have just gotten an email from us with info about your spot on the list and how to follow along this season (which includes reading this so maybe you already got the email ;). In the email we also have recommendations for other farms to join that are similar to us and our definition of CSA, in case you want to join another farm for this season.
We are working on updating everything from the blog here, to email lists, inventory, field and greenhouse plans, and equipment and supply lists. All in time to start seeds at the end of the month.

Winter Share #8 of 8: 2/2+2/4- The Final Winter Share plus the Bulk Sale

by Erin and Steve on 01/30/21

This coming week marks the very last week of the 2020 growing season (technically). So we can turn our entire focus on 2021 and the longer, warmer days to come. Almost all of the seed and supplies for the season have arrived (thanks for paying for your shares ahead of time.. this is the time of year that we incur the most of our costs). So all the hopes for the 2021 growing season are inside boxes and bags right now, but come the last week of February we will start the first seeds of the year and watch all these hopes grow! You'd think I was a 'glass-is-half-full' type of person after reading all that. Ha. In the back of my mind is the knowledge of everything that could possibly go wrong.
But sunny, snowy days such as today are the ones I like to use to relax the most and try not to think about too much. I know you think I'm joking, but watching shows that should really have never been produced, building puzzles, reading only fiction, and cooking/preserving up a storm is what I spend my February doing. That list usually includes traveling, but COVID. I'm thinking we will be able to travel by next off season so I'm not too upset, honestly.
This final week we will be having our annual Winter Bulk Sale for all of our Winter Share members. If you don't know what this means please read or re-read the email sent to you on Friday. It's got all the info you need to fill your fridge with farm veggies. All orders will be able to be picked up during your regular share pick up time.
As for the final share, it will include carrots, beets, potatoes, celeriac,  radishes, turnips, rutabegas, onions, lettuce mix, kale, and cabbage as well as some other choices! See you for the final '2020' share pick up!

Off Week for the Winter CSA

by Erin and Steve on 01/25/21

There is no pick up this week for you Winter Share members, but there is a lot goings ons.
If you are on the wait list and received a sign up email from us please respond ASAP there are currently 4 more spots available for 2021. If you have not received an email from us to sign up it is because we are not to your name yet...and I'm sorry for that. We had the best share renewal rate we've ever had and simply do not have as many open spots for new comers. This makes me sad, but also we don't really have a choice. We are limited by space: physical space as far as prime farmland, u-pick fields, and parking space (no we are not going to take away more farmland for parking spaces). Anyhoo, I am sorry for not being able to accommodate everyone.
We also just finished "attending" via Zoom, the NOFA-NY Winter Conference. We gleaned a little from all the sessions we attended, so we are already incorporating what we learned into our upcoming season.
Also the friggin' Bills lost last night. It was ugly, and I could barely watch. I guess now that I don't have to think about them in the Super Bowl anymore that frees up some mental space ;)
The last Winter Share pick up is next week, so look for an email from us at the end of this week.
Onwards and upwards

Winter Share #7 of 8: 1/19+1/21 To Panic Or Not To Panic

by Erin and Steve on 01/16/21

Did you know that in late March/early April of last year there was enough toilet paper on shelves of stores, in people's homes, and in the works to wipe every single person's behind? It's true. However, something sparked a panic insinuating that somehow COVID miraculously overnight caused the whole toilet paper supply chain to stop! People bought way too much TP and then some were left without. Now said TP hoarders still have their hoards, but I'm not sure they learned a lesson. And what lesson would that be? Simple: if we all looked out for each other there would be enough. Look at each other as family, and then put that family above self. Simple. But it only works if most everyone buys in... I'm in.
This week we started signing up new members for the 2021 growing season. People on Wait List "A" all received emails with info and how to sign up. If you did not receive an email yet it is because we haven't gotten to your place in line yet. If you cannot wear a mask to the farm please do not sign up, and then please re-read the first paragraph of this post.
There is a Winter Share this week and it will include: carrots, beets, potatoes, winter squash, celery root, turnips, radishes, onions, kale, kohlrabi, and cabbage, as well as head lettuce and other goodies from the farm!
The puzzle exchange in the share room is going great! Feel free to bring a puzzle and/or take a puzzle while you're here picking up your veggies.

Down Time

by Erin and Steve on 01/11/21

This is another "off week" for our Winter Shares, but it is an "on week" for us for sure! We got the seeds for this whole coming season ordered already, now it's time for all the tax and payroll loose ends to be tied and delivered (a part of owning a farm I dislike doing). We also have an immense amount of planning to continue from our end-of-the-year meetings we had. It includes ways to continue to improve and make our work easier...which somehow always feels like we are climbing to the top of a mountain only to find it was just a small plateau on the side of an even bigger mountain. These planning sessions remind me of that Price Is Right 'Cliffhangers' Game where the Swiss yodeling music plays as the little man climbs the mountain only to succeed and win the prize or fall off the mountain. We'll see which is it this season..haha.
We are looking to the future with hope for what 2021 may bring. We just got informed that all essential food producers are in tier 1b of the COVID vaccine distribution which means soon everyone showing up to work to grow and pack food for the masses will be able to access a vaccine. This is great news. I am trying not to think too much about our days getting "back to normal" because I don't want to waste too much mental space daydreaming, but this is a step toward being able to be inside a packed building with my fellow community members enjoying each others company. How wonderful it will be... eventually.
Snapping back to reality, we are also making sure to really make some downtime to honestly just do nothing. It's an important part of resting and renewing for the season coming. I always say I hibernate during these months. Plus we gotta be ready for the coming 'Roaring 20's' that will inevitably happen once we get rid of COVID!

Winter Share #6 of 8- 1/5+1/7: Happy New Year

by Erin and Steve on 01/02/21

**We will be emailing the wait list for this upcoming season soon**
We hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. Steve and I spent our first Christmas together with just the two of us. That's right, every single Christmas since we met has been spent with family of some sort somewhere. Now if you live around your whole entire family and married someone who's whole family is also from around here, then this may sound odd to you. My closest family member lives 5 hours away. Steve's closest family member lives 3.5 hours away. So in a non-pandemic world we travel, because though 5 hours isn't that bad in a car, once you drive it you're staying for at least one night. So we travel and stay on air mattresses, small old beds, floors, and couches, and though it is great to spend time with loved ones it is by no means relaxing or rejuvenating. Fun, but after a long season not very restful.
So this year we stayed at home. It is also the first Christmas we've ever spent with our dogs Arlo and Linus, and I think they loved it, too because they got their own Christmas dinner. In a nod to Steve's late Grandma Rosemary we made lasagna on Christmas Eve (think back to when his Grandma had all her grandchildren at her house and had to feed them all the night before the big Christmas pasta ;). We made it without noodles and instead did layers of roasted parsnips, celeriac, and cabbage. Layers and layers and layers of roasted veg with cheese and our own tomato sauce in between each.
Then for Christmas Day we had a ham steak (because why would 2 people need an entire ham!), kale salad, and halupki... another nod to Steve's Grandma's Christmas traditions. Halupki is very, very similar to galumpki, but Slovakian not Polish. Christmas cookies and homemade fruit cake for desert.
It was enough leftovers to make it all the way to New Year's Eve, which we usually spend together. We do not traditionally go out to eat on this night so we have our own tradition of going to Hayes' Seafood market and buy what's fresh and looks good that day. We then make our own pasta to eat with it. This year we made linguini with our own basil pesto topped with a mixture of our shallots, olives, and peppers with some spices mixed in next to a swordfish steak. We like to put Chambord in our Champagne so we had that too. Dessert was chocolate and more cookies of course.
So all in all we ate too much, slept amazingly well and were even able to do personal projects during this time, as well as read entire books (what!!??) and build an ungodly amount of puzzles. Our Christmas presents are still trickling in, which is kinda fun. And for our family we bought gift certificates to their local restaurants and bakeries. Which as I type this it making me want to order take out soon!
Anyway, that's what we did and we had the most relaxing holiday in a very long while. We also got to see family via Zoom so we saw and talked to everyone we would've. Of course we didn't get to play board games with them, which is sometimes the most fun, but we will be able to do that soon as well. I hope all you all were able to find peace and happiness at some point this holiday.
As for the Winter Share (oh yeah that's what this post is supposed to be about) it will include: carrots, beets, celery root, potatoes, winter radishes, rutabagas, turnips, parsnips, kale, cabbage, winter squash, leeks, kohlrabi, onions, bok choy, and spinach, head lettuce, and even more!

Winter Share #5 of 8: 12/15+12/17 Baby It's Cold Outside

by Erin and Steve on 12/11/20

This coming week will be the 5th of 8 Winter Share pick ups, but the last pick up of 2020. It is, unfortunately, going to be COLD this week! We are in the midst of insulating and heating our share distribution room in the barn. We are doing this because the root cellar space that we would normally retreat to in the cold is too small a space for COVID safe distancing and also only has one entrance/exit. So we have taken on the task of insulating the share room already, but the permanent heater will not be hung in time for this week's pick up. Make sure to bundle up and prepare to wait outside the barn if we are too busy inside. Despite the pandemic ("pan" meaning "all" or "everyone of a group", just another reminder this is not just happening to you, it is happening to all of us :), the shares have been our best ever. This share will be the biggest one of the Winter season because we are sending you off for 2 weeks. Of course this was initially built into the farm calendar because usually people are traveling, but I'm gonna say it's now built in for collective reflection.
We here at the farm are reflecting on the whole past season as we are planning for 2021. I know I mentioned this last week, but it is a long process that includes listing all of our accomplishments and disappointments over the past season. These ended up ranging from "great Fall cauliflower harvest" to "no one on the crew getting COVID" to "potato digger frustrations and time wasted with it". From these lists we set goals and also set a plan for making sure our disappointments aren't listed two years in a row. We also make changes to the seeds we order and the dates seeded as we see fit. That process alone takes about a month to complete before we can start ordering seed. But after all the reflection we are thankful for all of you and all of our crew.
On a different note, if you noticed we started a puzzle exchange at the farm. There are a few guidelines including puzzles must be 500 pieces or more, all pieces must be included, and no children's puzzles please. If you pick one up plan on bringing one back at some point.
So this is what's in the share this week: carrots, beets, potatoes, sweet potatoes, kabocha squash, parsnips, cabbage, kohlrabi, rutabegas, onions, bok choy, fennel, apples from Bittner-Singer, as well as leeks, kale crowns, lettuce mix, and butternut squash for everyone.
The remaining Winter Share pick up dates are:
Dec. 15th and 17th
Jan. 5th and 7th
Jan. 19th and 21st
Feb. 2nd and 4th

No Share Pick Up this Week

by Erin and Steve on 12/05/20

There is absolutely no share pick ups this week. It is the first relaxing week we will have since we were all in quarantine. I'm excited thinking about all the stuff I'm gonna do, including crop planning for 2021, building a puzzle, and watching movies among other things. Soon hunting season will be over so hiking will be on the list soon, too.
For those who noticed changes in the share room this last week we are in the middle of insulating the share room in the barn so we can heat it come January and February. We are doing this because we usually go into the root cellar for Wintertime share distribution, but the space is too small for COVID safety. There is also only one way in and one way out so it really isn't a good option during a global pandemic (not that there could ever be a pandemic these days that didn't include the whole world, but I like to remind everyone that we are not the only ones living the pandemic).
So come January we will have the share room in the barn heated and will have watched all 8 of the Harry Potter movies. The 2021 season will all be planned and Steve and I might be a few pounds heavier ;)
Oh but we do have 1 more share pick up this month next week. It will be the last of the bigger sized shares for the Winter because afterwards we go on an even longer break!
Remaining Winter Share dates:
December 15th or 17th
January 5th or 7th
January 19th or 21st
February 2nd or 4th

Winter Share #4 of 8: 12/1+12/3 It's December Already

by Erin and Steve on 11/29/20

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and I hope you all did too! We had 2 Zoom calls and we got to see people we wouldn't normally see, which was awesome. I have cousins in Alaska, Oregon, Michigan, and aunts and uncles in Michigan and Illinois and we all got to see each other this year. And we also got to see Steve's family which we never see on Thanksgiving because we are always in Michigan! This will be a Thanksgiving to remember, and I know that the reason is a global pandemic so of course I am not happy about that, but it made me think of the other memorable Thanksgivings I've had.
Plus we had amazing food, too. We made a chicken instead of a turkey. We had mashed potatoes with parsnips and yogurt, roasted carrots, stuffing, and kale and napa salad. I also made a pumpkin apple pie because I wanted both kinds, but didn't want to make 2 pies for 2 people. Then the next day I made biscuits out of the leftover mashed potatoes and biscotti out of the leftover baked pumpkin (which was butternut squash).
But now that we have all collectively eaten too much it's time for another share pick up. This week's share will include: potatoes, carrots, beets, squashes, celeriac, salad turnips and radishes, fennel, parsnips, arugula, scallions, onions, bok choy, kale and leeks, cabbage, kabocha squash, and lettuce mix for everyone.

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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