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Another Season in the Bag!!!

Lisez la version française ici: https://www.rootsandshootsfarm.com/post/une-autre-saison-se-termine-l-affaire-est-dans-le-sac


Considering the state of the world, we are privileged and blessed and super grateful to play this amazing role in society and in our customers lives. While many of you have gone through tremendous hardships adapting to the new reality of COVID life, our little farm has steadily continued producing and employing and providing.


It was VERY challenging for the farm as well, and we are happy to see the tail-end of this crazy year. And it's kind of nice to go through something like this collectively- we don't need to explain our situation. We had to keep our staff and customers safe. We had to pirouette like the rest of you. The administrative burden of all these changes was HUGE. Fortunately we mostly work outside and we are essential workers so our business was not shut down.


And as farmers we are happy with the production. We had new fields to adapt to, and we won some and lost some, but it was a very productive season and we feel that the baskets were bountiful and varied and still the best CSA in the region!



The pickups: Our pre-packed bags kept the lines moving however it was a LOT for our amazing coordinators. We are always grateful for these gem-humans but never more than this year. They really stepped up. It was A LOT for them. They had a time crunch, they had space issues, they had extras to remember. They did an amazing job and all because they really believe in us. Really, they are awesome!


One shining realization from this year is that our unique model of pick-your-own veggie share from our market-style CSA stand is a great model. Ironically, it took us NOT doing it to realize how well it worked. Some of you loved receiving pre-packed bags but some of you definitely did not. We hear you.


Our original market-style CSA system is actually quite unique for a CSA farm. We have moved steadily towards more free choice, but it all came crashing down this year. Sometimes something was missed or you got small potatoes when you wanted big ones or the quarts were not heaped as much as you wanted. All of these problems are mitigated when you choose your own--you are in control! Alas, in order to keep the lines moving this year we opted for pre-packed. If anyone wrote us to say they missed something, we would always add it to their share for the next week. However this was not a great solution, just an admin- heavy bandaid. So, to conclude, we will be returning to market-style CSA pickups in 2021. If Covid-19 still has us in lock-down, we will take measures to keep everyone safe. We're not sure exactly what that will look like but we have our expert coordinators to help us design a setup that will work for everyone.




REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE

Although COVID19 has been a huge distraction, we have still been working on improving our soil through regenerative practices, reducing our plastic use and getting a handle on our carbon consumption. We've made huge progress with our permanent bed system, which is very unique considering the size of our operation and the fact that we use tractors for all of our fieldwork. The permanent beds result in much healthier soil biology, far less erosion, and loose, friable soil that is much easier for plant roots to interact with.


Our soil is our number one resource here at the farm.There have been significant bumps in the road, mostly due to extreme weather, but we are sticking to the plan. Rather than doing a deep dive into soil biology, we recommend you take look at "Kiss the Ground" a new documentary on the soil's role in nutrition and in our fight against climate change. It is a very exciting documentary and it explains what we're trying to do here :). It's on Netflix.


DONATIONS

We are so thrilled with your contributions to help us donate more food.


This summer we received $1491 in donations from YOU our CSA members, which resulted in $2962 in donations from your farm, including weekly CSA shares to two families in need, plus to Maison Libere-Elles, a women's shelter in Chelsea. That also includes bulk food donations to Children at Risk, Kitigan Zibi, and the Wakefield Food Pantry.


On top of that we have been an active donor to Foodrescue.ca, where we've donated $2268 of produce to 6 different non-profits in Ottawa since July!


Going forward, we already have $1440 donated for the Fall season, and the giving will continue through the Fall and Winter. Please let us know if you have programs, people or other opportunities for donations going forward.


Thank you so much for helping us feed our community!



OUR TEAM We have had such a great team this year! I mean, we always have a great team, but this year we relaxed a little bit on our full season commitment, meaning we were able to hire a lot of students and people out of work because of COVID. Consequently we had a lot more local people join us and it's been fantastic! Our Chelsea crew, Tomas and Ally, worked for us last year, and they came back this summer and brought their friend Tara as well. We also had Emma, a true gem, join us for the summer. hope they join us next year! There was also Dom and Julien who helped out for a couple of months. Hannen, a Wakefielder, started here last year, and this year he brought along his friends Tomas and Nelson. These guys are all finished university, and have been working through the fall. Nel, Willow, Gen and Matt have joined us for the fall-- all locals and all fantastic! Aline, a neighbour, is going into her third or fourth year of volunteering at the farm- she's a great help.


It's been great getting to know the community a little more through our team, and their families have been very supportive of the farm as well!



On the sadder side, Kielan will be leaving us at the end of the year, to focus on his growing family! It will be tough without his experience, managerial skills and amazing work ethic, but Tim and Caleb are ready to step up and take a bigger role. And the whole team is ready to make things a little more refined and process-oriented so that we can have successful continuation when our amazing team members eventually move on to new pastures! Tim will be playing a bigger role in crew management while continuing his field management and general fix-everything work. Caleb will be stepping up big in the greenhouses!


And don't forget that every one of your emails, bill payments, compliments and complaints all go through one amazing woman - Emily in the office is the eyes and ears of this entire farm and we could not have survived Covid in such stellar form without her!


FALL WRAPUP

Our call out for volunteers worked - thank you for those of you who came out to help us get the crops out of the ground!! We really appreciate your hard work. We have a bit more left, but it's manageable. The greenhouses are full of gorgeous greens and the cold-rooms are filling up with storage crops. Now its just hours and hours and hours of barrel washing, which is probably the worst job on the farm (although Kielan says it's his favourite) but a great way to catch up on audible books and podcasts.


Our fall shares have started and so far so good!


2021

We are farmers so we are always looking forward to improving things the following year. We are looking forward to the winter so we can recover a little bit. So we can ski a little bit. So we can do a lot of planning and come back stronger than ever in 2021.


We have a great team lined up (already!) for 2021. We have lots of hope for 2021. We hope you do too :)



THANK YOU

Thank you for supporting us always, but especially this year! You have helped 17 people keep a job during this tough time. You have supported agriculture that is striving to be not just sustainable but regenerative. You have allowed us to donate food to people who have hit hard times. You have strengthened the resiliency of our local food security. Your support matters! We also hope that you have enjoyed the tastes of this season. We hope we have made your families just a little bit more healthy.


In love and solidarity,


The Roots and Shoots Farm Crew












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© 2019 Roots and Shoots Farm, Inc. Photos by Michaël Racine.