2011-04-20 / Front Page

Root Down Farm will let community reap its harvest

by ANDREA KIMBRIEL
Editor


Steve Blabac gets ready to milk a goat at Simmons Farm in Middletown, R.I., where he and Erin Grimley met. The farm makes goat cheese and also offers Community Supported Agriculture. Steve Blabac gets ready to milk a goat at Simmons Farm in Middletown, R.I., where he and Erin Grimley met. The farm makes goat cheese and also offers Community Supported Agriculture. People will have a new way to support local agriculture through Root Down Farm at 8386 County Road, East Amherst.

Steve Blabac and Erin Grimley are leasing a portion of the Ken Spoth farm for Community Supported Agriculture, which will allow people to receive fresh vegetables, flowers and herbs weekly from June through October.

Seed, fuel and other necessary investments for a successful farm can be expensive, so Community Supported Agriculture gives people the chance to invest in a farm in advance and then reap a portion of the harvest, said Grimley.

She said the community shares the risks and rewards of farming, and participants receive food that’s never been frozen and shipped.

They have already filled the 50 slots available this year, but those interested in participating are encouraged to get on the waiting list for 2012. Information is available by visiting www.therootdown farm.com.


Erin Grimley teaches third graders how to harvest carrots at Cedar Mountain Farm in Hartland, Vt. The students took carrots back to school with them, and the lunch cooks used them in that day’s meal. Erin Grimley teaches third graders how to harvest carrots at Cedar Mountain Farm in Hartland, Vt. The students took carrots back to school with them, and the lunch cooks used them in that day’s meal. Although the farm is not certified organic, everything will be grown pesticide, herbicide and fungicide-free, she said.

Grimley said they hope to offer people as much choice as possible, with a mix and match table where people can choose the items they prefer.

Blabac and Grimley, who plan to marry this summer, have apprenticed, interned or worked on a number of CSA farms. They met on one in Rhode Island. Blabac said he’s spent time on farms in states including New York, Massachusetts and Vermont.

Grimley worked at the Food Bank Farm in Massachusetts that gave half of its produce to food banks. She said they are looking for ways to assist the community through Root Down Farm.

Grimley said the Clarence Greenprint Program brought them to the town. They were looking for a farm, and Nancy Smith of the Western New York Land Conservancy, which has been involved with the Greenprint Program, assisted them in finding their location.

Root Down Farm is hosted by the Ken Spoth Farm Market, and Grimley said Spoth’s daughter Sue Kelkenberg, who runs the Farmers Daughter Gifts and Antiques at 8386 County Road, is providing support for their effort.

“It’s a great opportunity for us because it’s already a working farm,” said Blabac.

The average age of farmers is 63, and a fewer members of younger generations are willing to take over family farms, he said. It can be costly to start farming.

“To get into it’s really hard, so we’ve been really lucky,” he said.

Because the area faces significant development pressure, the pair want to be part of the effort to preserve its rural and agricultural character, Grimley said.

They also plan be involved with the farmland protection plans being developed by the Town of Clarence and Erie County.

Customers will come to the farm for their food so they can connect with each other and meet the farmers.

“We really want that one-on-one relationship,” she said.

They will also offer a you-pick section with flowers, herbs and vegetables for members.

Grimley, who has a marketing degree, said she always wanted to work for a nonprofit and is dedicated to helping good food be affordable for all.

“We believe wholeheartedly in changing this food system,” she said.

Blabac grew up working in gardens and studied land management and urban planning in college before deciding he wanted to save land by farming it himself.

“We want to grow to the point where we can provide almost a whole diet for Western New York,” Grimley said.

They hope to add such things as eggs and dairy products in the future.

The two of them will do most of the farming, but volunteers are welcome.

More information is available by calling 949-1204 and emailing csa@therootdownfarm.com.

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