STAFFORD — Down to Earth farm is recruiting members for its community-supported agriculture program, or CSA.
The farm’s CSA members can either pay for shares or work at the farm in exchange for a steady supply of fresh, local produce.
The farm chose to offer the work option because the operators believe in the importance of consumers having a connection to their food, Charlotte Hansen, the group’s treasurer, says.
“I think it gives you a greater appreciation for food,” says Rich Longmore, the farm’s assistant manager. “I don’t waste as much now, because I know how much effort went into producing it.”
Working members of the CSA help out at the farm for two hours every other week and attend two full workdays during the growing season.
Members will reap the benefits of their investment — of time or money — during the harvest period, which runs for 22 weeks from June to November. Down to Earth recently obtained a grant to erect a high tunnel, which will extend the harvest season even longer.
A 2017 study done by researchers from Cornell University, the University of Vermont, East Carolina University, the University of North Carolina, and the Evergreen State College in Washington State found that membership in CSAs improves fruit and vegetable intake — which is correlated with overall health — in both low- and high-income families.
CSA membership grants easy access to fresh, local produce. Typically, access and cost is the barrier between families and fresh produce, the study found. Low-income families might turn away from CSA programs because of membership costs, but Down to Earth’s program eliminates this issue by allowing members to work for their share.
CSA participants consumed more fruits and vegetables than the U.S. median, the study found.
“What we offer goes so far beyond anything you could find at the supermarket,” says Mary Ellen Vigeant, who writes the farm’s newsletter. “It’s great to watch people collecting their shares, swapping recipes, and getting so excited about the food we’ve grown together.”
Applications and details are available at the organization’s website,