2014 CSA work memberships

We will not be offering CSA shares in 2016, as we explain here.

We are looking for a few members to pay for their shares through work rather than with cash. If you like the idea of getting a regular dose of fresh air, exercise, and produce, read on. Positions are very limited, because work share members often like to stay with us for multiple years. We will want to meet/interview prospective workers and discuss the details in person in conjunction with a farm tour for those who have not been here. Contact us with a brief statement explaining your interest & availability through the season.

Sunday morning worker commitment:

30 shifts of 3 hours each on Sunday mornings from March through November; work shift start time varies with day length and weather conditions. Roughly, hours are as follows:

March & April:  9 a.m. to noon
May & June: 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.
July: 7 a..m to 10 a.m. (may stick with 8-11 if the weather isn’t scorching)
August: 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.
September, October, & November: 9 a.m. to noon

We have found that we need regular reliable help. We have also found that even the most dedicated worker needs an occasional Sunday off for vacation or other life events. To fulfill their commitment, member-workers will be need to work, on average, about 5 out of every 6 weeks for the season of March to November, and we prefer that the off days be spread somewhat evenly through the year. (Taking all of July off because it is hot isn’t an acceptable plan, for example.) On the other hand, we can only manage so many people on any given day. We use an online calendar to allow worker-members to commit to days that they will work and pre-schedule days that they will be absent. This system helps us to maintain a relatively stable amount of work from week to week.

Weekday help:

We may have an opening or two for regular help on weekdays. If your schedule allows consistent availability on a weekday and you are interested in a work share, please let us know.

Worker receives:

Chert Hollow Farm single share membership with all membership benefits; option to upgrade to a full share membership through cash payments or additional work.

Workers are considered full members of the CSA with all benefits that includes. We distribute shares for worker-members as a part of our usual distribution route on Mondays or Thursday. In some cases, workers may have access to products that aren’t available in sufficient quantity for the full membership (such as asparagus), or other seconds/extras available on the fly on work-shift days.

As a thank you for the effort & sweat in the fields, we generally try to schedule a worker appreciation event for workers & their families sometime during the season.

Getting to the farm:

In past years, workers have carpooled to the farm to save on transportation costs; we definitely encourage this practice. Though we cannot help with transportation costs to get workers here, we waive the delivery fee for their share for deliveries to World Harvest or in the $150 delivery zone.

Type of work:

Work at Chert Hollow Farm tends to be diverse over the course of the seasons, though any given day or series of days may involve repetitive tasks. The farm is managed using primarily manual methods. Tasks that we tend to need help with include weeding, hoeing, mulching, setting up & taking down trellising, composting, harvesting, and washing/packing. There may be some opportunities to work with the animals, though produce is the core of our business.

No matter how boring, tedious, or strenuous, the work is important to the farm’s success. As Richard Wiswall stated in The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook: “Farming is production work. The farm earns money by what is actually produced and sold. Since production per hour or day is very important, employees are expected to work quickly and efficiently, to keep up with the pace set by the employers or work quickly on their own.”

Even in the most repetitive tasks, we find great joy in observing the natural world while working, whether observing/listening to birds, seeing unusual insects, listening to a chorus of frogs, and so on. This benefit is enhanced by our non-mechanized methods, and should be considered a tradeoff for the manual labor. Much work is also compatible with extensive conversation which helps to add interest to sometimes dull tasks. We simply ask that the conversation not interfere with work speed, productivity, or quality.

Safety:

We place a high priority on personal safety, but working farms inevitably involve some degree of risk. Work may include bending, lifting, and repetitive motions; spreading moldy hay/straw; working in variable weather conditions (including intense heat and cold); use of sharp tools; working around loud machinery (though rarely); and exposure to domestic farm animals and manure. The farm is host to a number of potentially hazardous organisms including poison ivy, biting insects, ticks, rodents, snakes, spiders, and more. Other hazards include electric fences, uneven pathways, tripping hazards, and more. We ask that workers be aware of hazards, inform us immediately if they feel unsafe, and alert us to hazards about which we might not be aware.

Food safety considerations are also of great importance. We ask that workers follow farm protocols and use common sense to minimize risk of pathogen contamination of produce and other farm products.

Legalities:

Workers are considered customers, not employees. Many CSAs discount a portion of the membership fee in exchange for one or two work shifts. We simply take this precedent to its logical extreme by allowing some members to work off all of their membership fee. We remit sales tax to the state for the cash value of work shares (also accepting work to compensate for the cash sales tax).