OTTO, NY (WKBW) — Early signs of spring seem to be everywhere on the Ritchie's farm in Otto, NY. Birds are chirping. The sun is a little higher in the sky and there is lots and lots of mud.
“It's always exciting once the spring starts,” said Stewart Ritchie.
Stewart and Deb's business, Native Offerings, provides fresh vegetables to customers around Western New York. The run a CSA or community supported agriculture.
That was nearly put on hold in late 2018, a fire tore through their barn with nearly all of their winter's produce.
“It's 25 years of farming and it took us that long to get everything together and now we have five months to put that together,” said Ritchie about preparing for a new season.
The rebuilding process was and is largely helped by the community. People donated tens of thousands of dollars to help Ritchies. That money has replaced their tractor, a barn wall, and eventually, later in spring, a new barn.
“The community has been amazing and continues to be amazing,” said Deb Ritchie.
Next week will be the last of their winter product that will be delivered to their customers. Those customers include restaurants in Buffalo. They'll start their summer deliveries around Mother's Day.
For their last bit of fundraising, friends of the Ritchies are holding a benefit. It will be held Sunday, March 31st at the Barrel Factory in the Old First Ward.
The hope is this will be the last little push to get Native Offerings back on track for the start of spring and the rest of the year. You can get tickets: here.
“We always think every year is going to be better than the last. And I think this year is definitely going to be better,” added Stewart Ritchie.