Farm-to-table business burns, community rallies around them

Posted at 11:32 PM, Dec 06, 2018

Food doesn't get fresher than this. In the lobby of the First Presbyterian Church, in Allentown, dozens of shareholders take part in a CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture.

“We go through a lot of produce. So it works out really well for us,” said Karlen Chase, Thursday night. 

Chase has been coming to Native Offerings drop off spot for years. It's where she gets Western New York grown food like, potatoes, onions and cabbage.  But, she wasn't so sure about this Thursday's pick up.

“I was surprised that it happened so quickly, I thought at a minimum we might miss a few weeks,” said Chase.

Along a snowy rural road in Otto, it’s remarkable any of those vegetable made it to Buffalo.   

“You go to bed and you have plenty and you wake up and all of a sudden you’re in a load of scarcity,” said Stew Ritchie, the co-owner of Native Offerings.

Last Wednesday, Native Offerings barn burned.

“Stew is running over there, trying to get things out, trying to put the fire out and I was like, this isn't going to happen,” recalled Deb Ritchie, co-owner of Native Offerings.

The Ritchies lost everything in the barn.

“Our potatoes, our winter squash. We had kale in here, we had Napa Cabbage. We had our onions,” listed Stew.

They didn't know what to do. They didn't know how to continue their business. 

“We felt very deeply about our commitment to the CSA,” said Deb.

While the embers were still burning, their neighbors and their customers rushed to help.

“People in the community just saying, what do you need? I'm here,” said Deb.

Neighboring farms gave produce. A GoFundMe was setup. And a couple that nearly lost everything, is already eyeing a spring thaw.

“We'll be a leaner farm, but we'll be back and running by spring,” said Stew.

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