Bernard Whitmore

Putting your money where your mouth is. CSAs are exactly that, because when you take part in a CSA you’re committing financially to local farmers and taking part in some of the risks they face. 

The USDA defines it as “a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community’s farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits

Spirituality aside, as part of the bargain, members receive a season of fresh vegetables and fruit. Each week you’ll pick up a carton of whatever the farm is currently harvesting. If you’ve never had a vegetable garden or shopped at a farm stand you may be on course for a flavor awakening.

Anyone who’s grown tomatoes can testify to the fact that the flavor of a perfectly ripe tomato plucked off the vine resets the very concept of tomato. That’s the way it is for most other produce, corn on the cob, green peppers, carrots. And fruit… Eat a peach! Just-picked ripe peaches explode with sweet nectar. Most of us have never had a farm-fresh egg.

My first introduction to CSA was through Patty, a workmate, who signed up for a CSA without considering how often she’d be traveling. Then, realizing she wouldn’t be home to pick up her orders, she gave many of them to me. Each box held surprises and a pile of free food!  What impressed me was that she remained happy to be supporting the farm, it’s what really mattered to her.

Would you commit to a stranger? Probably not, so it makes sense to learn something about the farm you chose to support with your CSA dollar. There are enough options in our region that it pays to shop for what works best for your household size and dietary preferences.

A few of these farms are featured below. Many more can be found at the Massachusetts Agriculture website:

Many Hands Organic Farm (MHOF) 

Located in Barre, MA. Contact by email or (978) 355-2853; (978) 257-1192

Grow certified organic produce, meat and eggs in Barre, MA (Baystate Organic Certifiers and the Real Organic Project). MHOF has been in existence since 1982 and has been selling to the public since 1985. We are highly diverse, no till, and focus on high quality and nutrient density through practices supporting maximum photosynthesis. Our pork, chicken, turkey and eggs are certified organic by Baystate Organic Certifiers.

CSA Worcester Pick-Ups are Wednesday at Elan Vital Medical Center, 21 West Street. Pick-up is available from 4:30 – 6:30pm.

Red Fire Farm 

Located in Granby, MA. Contact by email or (413) 467-7645


The mission of Red Fire Farm is to be a year-round local source for high-quality food and garden plants grown using organic principles that result in safe food and a healthy environment. With that in mind, we’d like to share our thoughts about how and why we farm the way we do. If you eat our food, you have a hand in what we create. You support it and keep it going. These are some of our guiding thoughts that motivate the farm and farmers and help create our food.

Red Fire Farm has plenty of CSA options (family size, specific produce) and pickup locations. The Worcester CSA Pickup is Wednesdays 3-7 p.m. at the First Unitarian Church (90 Main Street). I’ve walked past their display of produce and longed to take part in this CSA.

Rattle Root Farm

Located at 89 Mirick Road, Princeton, MA. Contact them at

Rattle Root Farm is situated on a leased, six-acre field in Princeton, MA. We farm sustainably – meaning we try to work with the land to regenerate topsoil, improve biodiversity, and produce nutrient-dense food to feed our community. 

Our stewardship of this land is a commitment to building relationships within our local community and ecosystem, and more broadly to our wider environmental and social contexts. We hope to responsibly and thoughtfully feed our neighbors and surrounding communities, work towards food equity, and create a space where our customers feel empowered to engage with how their food is grown.

Unlike most other farms, Rattle Root is close enough to visit and small enough to get to know. When I visited, I spoke to Hanna, the farm manager and she described their CSA. Because you pick up your order right at the farm, you’re able to make some substitutions and pick herbs and flowers. It’s a new farm that you could build a close relationship with as you watch it grow.

What to do when you have too much?

If that should happen, some farms partner with Woo Fridge and enable you to donate your box when you’re out of town.

WOO FRIDGE – a mutual aid effort that provides Worcester neighbors with safe and free access to food. A network of free food fridges throughout the city. We believe that having daily access to fresh food is a right, not a privilege, and that food insecurity is the result of harmful food policies and ineffective food systems. Our mission is to empower neighbors to share food and build long-term relationships to ensure a future where everyone in our community is cared for and safe. Join us in ensuring no one goes hungry.

Accepted Foods:

All produce, Unopened frozen foods, Breads and pastries. Prepackaged frozen meals, Pantry Staples (bread, sugar flour, canned goods etc).