Signups for the 2019 Roots and Shoots CSA are going faster than ever! Sign up now to reserve your place!
We read your surveys and are making big changes including:
EVEN MORE free choice
Improved Customer Service
New pickups in Zibi (Hull) and Wakefield
Exclusive access to limited farm products for CSA members
NEW Sustainability Goals!!
For more details on these changes, and for news updates from the farm, read on!
Curious what was in the share in 2018? Check out Cookery Nation's 2018 CSA unboxing. She captured every delivery for us and it's amazing!
Focus on CSA
We are only going to Landsdowne market (dropping Westboro market) this year so we can focus on CSA. We've also made a number of changes in our team in order to allow the four main farmers (Kielan, Tim, Robin and Jess) to stay on the farm. We will be focusing on really boosting soil health which allows us to grow healthy, nutrient dense veggies.
Offer more free choice
Last year we introduced "free-choice" roots, and this summer we are hoping to try it with things like zucchinis, eggplants and tomatoes - the crops that are harvested multiple times throughout the season (unlike cabbage heads, and broccoli). This would mean that on the day of your CSA you can walk up and decide to take two quarts of tomatoes and one of eggplant, or two boxes of zucchinis and one tomato... you know, choose your own! This will only happen when there is an abundance of these things.
Along with the trade bin, we hope this will allow you to eat what you want, not what we tell you to :).
If this sounds confusing, don’t worry! Our wonderful drop-off coordinators will be there to walk you through your options. Just know that we are doing our best to offer you more flexibility and choice this season!
New Vegetables, More Variety
Last year we added watermelon, cauliflower and eggplant to our production. These are pretty challenging crops for our farm, and we were disappointed in the quality of the watermelon and cauliflower. We're going to grow eggplant again, and we've brought Jess's Dad on board (John Weatherhead from Waratah Downs, ON above photo) to grow the things we'd rather not - cauliflower, fall cabbage, watermelon, and possibly even SWEET POTATO for the fall share.
We really appreciate that you commit to getting your food from us. In return, we do everything we can to make sure you are rewarded with the freshest, most competitively priced, local, organic food in the region.
Exclusive CSA offers
We will be offering a limited number of egg shares to CSA members. Our hens are moved around our cover cropped fields. They get the benefit of greens and bugs to forage, you get the benefit of healthy eggs, and we get the benefit of their poop! These hens are happy. they have their own house and are fed 100% certified organic grain. Don't miss out! This is a popular and limited resource!
We will also be growing a small patch of flowers. We will be offering pick your own bouquets to all CSA members that pickup on the farm!
Berries and stuff!
We also planted a 1/2 acre of raspberries last year. They started producing last year, just enough for us to fill our freezer with a few bags but we anticipate there will be much more this year. Unfortunately we won't have enough to include them in the CSA, but we will offer these as either pick-your-own or in the online farm-store, but only for CSA members (extras may be sold at our on-farm store).
New Pickup Locations
We have added drop-offs in Hull (Zibi) and Wakefield (location tbd). And our Chelsea pickup will be more central and accessible (stay tuned for details) You can still sign up for these locations now!
While we pride ourselves in customer service, we're also getting a little too big for Jess and Robin to be handling all the admin in our "spare time!" So we've made the big move of hiring an office admin. Emily has been working with us since January, learning the ins and outs of the Farmigo system, our accounting, and how to process the cheques and billing. It's very exciting to have this kind of support, and we know it will make the whole process much smoother for all of our customers!
At the same time we're also going to be moving the office out of our house for the first time ever. We've had a big empty space above the pack-shed since it was built and we're in the process of insulating it so that it will be ready for this summer. Again, not a revolution, but something that will make it a lot easier to have your questions answered and clear communication with the farm for the whole summer!
Tips on how to make the most of your basket
The above picture is lifted from the community Facebook CSA page - one of our expert members made beet chips and shared the picture and method!! It is an inspiring group to be a part of! We know you are busy, and figuring out what to do with your veggies can sometimes be a challenge. We offer tips every week in our newsletter and on the CSA-only community page where veteran CSA members share what they're doing and newbies can ask questions!!
We really want to be a more sustainable farm! Every year we see more indications that our climate is not as stable and predictable as it once was. There are more droughts, more floods, and we feel we are at the mercy of climate change! We want to start doing more than the basic minimum, and we are preparing a summary of our carbon footprint for our customers and our own reflection.
As farmers, we feel that we have a responsibility to produce safe, healthy food for our customers. We also feel that we have a responsibility to respect, protect and honour the patch of earth we use to produce that food. Our farm practices are always becoming more efficient and sustainable, from cover cropping to pollinator friendly crops to planting trees, we are constantly looking for ways to support our local ecosystem and sequester carbon. But we use combustion engine tractors and drive an old truck and rely on plastic for some of our production.
If this is an important issue for you please let us know! We need help making a carbon budget and evalutaing our best strategy moving forward. Thank you for joining us!
Plastic : Get rid of it!!
We are so excited to be going plastic free for the CSA share!! We will be sending loose greens to the CSA pickups for greens shares. Bring a container from home, and coordinators will help you fill it with a standardized quantity of greens. We will send backup paper bags, just in case. For wholesale orders we are looking at compostable bags, but still need to run some tests on storability. If we do this, it will almost eliminate our packaged plastics!
We had been using biodegradable mulch that was made from cornstarch, but two years ago Canada banned this for organic production because 2% was petroleum. Fair enough, but it put us in a position where we had to switch to plastic mulch. We hate that the plastic mulch goes to the landfill at the end of the year, and our goal is to reduce this mulch by 75% in 2019.
It is possible to grow without mulch but on our scale it takes meticulous management of soil over years. We are working on this, but in the meantime we still need some kind of weed barrier to help us out.
For our squash, for instance, black mulch warms the soil and keeps the weeds at bay while the crop establishes. Eventually they grow 6 feet wide and their huge green leaves cover the paths (that are not covered with weed barrier) but there are still weeds that pop through. Even one missed weed can cause huge problems down the line by spreading hundreds of thousands of seeds. So this year we investing in a woven plastic landscape fabric that can be reused for 20 years.
The only problem with landscape fabric is that it has to be laid and pinned by hand, which is a huge undertaking. We may have to have a volunteer day to get that done :)!
Carbon Sequestering and soil health
Using green manure (thick stands of crops just to build soil) is a huge part of our production. We let our fields rest every other year and grow cover crop to build organic matter in the soil and help fight diseases. This lowers the amount of fertilizers we need to ship into the farm and is the best way to build a healthy soil. It also is a tonne of organic matter (carbon) that is NOT removed from the soil.
We would love to add more forest and fruit trees to our property to help with sequestering more carbon. Please let us know if you'd like to get involved!!
More than just food!
By signing up for a share you are not just signing up for a fresh, nutrient-dense, pretty-darn-delicious basket of veggies that also happens to be a great deal. You are also supporting local farmers who are stewarding the soil, improving growing practices and reducing the environmental impact of our food system every day. Thanks for choosing Roots and Shoots and stay tuned for our next CSA Members Event!
If you haven't already, Click here to sign up for your 2019 share here!