Vendor Profile: Winter Moon Roots

Written by Michael Docter 

You probably know us from eating our delicious winter carrots, beets, parsnips, Macomber rutabagas, and Asian Radishes after shopping at River Valley Co-op. We love growing for RIver Valley Co-op because their customers  have a special love for our local farms.  

Here are some things maybe you didn’t know about our farming operation:

All of our roots are all grown without the use of any pesticides – ”organic” pesticides or otherwise. While copper sulfate and other potentially toxic sprays are considered organic and used on many organic farms, we won’t use them. Winter Moon Roots takes environmental sustainability seriously.   

Winter Moon Roots started in 2008 when Michael Docter left the Food Bank Farm. We set out to fulfill a mission to provide local organic produce while leaving a minimal carbon footprint. Winter Moon’s storage facility is designed to use the least refrigeration possible. It relies on a computerized fan and venting system that brings in cold winter air rather than energy-intensive conventional refrigerants. This means that instead of a conventional cooler we are using the night air to keep the roots at an ideal temperature most of the time. The exception is when winter night air goes above freezing for several days. Then we kick in back up refrigeration if we have to.

We also deliver over 25,000 pounds of roots by bicycle each year. Maybe you have seen Michael and his friend Merve (from Mitch’s Marina) hauling roots through town on bike trailers… or maybe you have seen Henry the produce manager come out and help them push the root laden carts up the co-op’s steep driveway! Somebody did once asked Merv and Michael, “Are you crazy or are you stupid” ... We are not sure how to answer that one... But we are having a fun time riding through town!

You can tell our roots from others because they are all kinds of shapes and sizes. Thanks for not being picky if our carrots are not always perfectly straight. Our only concern is how they taste! We sell only bulk roots so please bring and re-use your plastic bags. Roots keep best in a closed plastic bag with a few small air holes punched in the bag. The roots are alive and they want to breathe. Always refrigerate. Apples give off ethylene and cause carrots to go bitter so please store your apples elsewhere by a cold door or window in winter.  

Changes Are Coming at Winter Moon: Over the next few years, Michael will be handing over ownership of the farm to Rosendo Santizo.  

For over 10 years, Rosendo has worked tirelessly on the farm. It’s his turn now. This will be one of the first times, in a while anyway, that a farm has transferred ownership from a farmer to a farmworker. But it is not at all a new idea. Many of the farms in Hadley today are owned by Polish immigrants who took over their farms from their predecessors, who of course, were immigrants from England.   

When you’ve worked the land together for so long as a team, it feels good to think it can go onto a person who knows it so well.  

Thanks for supporting Winter Moon Roots and River Valley Co-op. Together we can make a difference.

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