Bittersweet Farm in Heuvelton offering chance for people to work for food
Saturday, October 12, 2019 - 5:48 pm

Lyndsey Slavik, an enthusiastic ‘work-share members,’ is seen above feeding Ebony and Panther, two Tamworth-Large black cross pigs. Photo submitted by Catherine Bennett.

BY MATT LINDSEY
North Country This Week

HEUVELTON – If you’re willing to work for food, now you can. Bittersweet Farm, 1249 SH 184, is offering a new kind of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) through a “Weekend Work-Share” program.

The 112-acre certified organic operation raises pigs, chickens, sheep and cows, and runs permaculture gardens and a greenhouse.

“We teach and welcome volunteers and are establishing an incubator farming program,” said owner Catherine Bennett. She also runs an organic potato company in DePeyster, Milkweed Tussock Tubers.

Members volunteer for a set amount of time (beginning with two hours and going up from there) on either Saturday or Sunday and go home with a share of farm produce and products.

“We’re trying to connect to the community and focus on spending locally,” she said. “We are sticking to our ethics that should be free … and at the same time figure out how famers can support themselves.”

Catherine, along with her parents Ann and Brian Bennett, do most of the teaching to those who come to work. Together, her parents have about 60 years of experience farming. They also rely on seasoned community members to pass along their knowledge.

“The bonus is that you’re working for whatever food you want,” Bennett said. Volunteers can go home with meat, eggs, veggies, fruit and products like jams and herb mixes.

Those would put in two hours of work generally leave with $25-30 worth of food. So that boils down to about $15 per hour for work.

There are a variety of jobs ranging from planting, harvesting, jelly-making, animal husbandry and more. “We have one lady who enjoys working with the pigs, so that’s what she does,” Bennett said

The Work-Share is available year-round, but members do not have to come every week, because it is a by-the-day program.

“For instance, if someone was interested in working two hours on Saturday the 12th, they contact us, come out and work, and leave with their share. If they decide not to come back for three more weeks, they simply do not receive a share, because there was no work exchange.

Bennett says her goal is to provide a flexible alternative to the money-driven CSA model, while educating and introducing regenerative agricultural techniques to interested parties.

“In order to create strong community connections, introduce people to the wonders of small-scale diversified agriculture, and respect the fact that many people simply cannot afford the bulk payment that is a part of a conventional CSA share, we are offering something done nowhere else in the county - a Weekend Work-Share,” Bennett said.

People of all ages, experience levels and abilities are welcome and the farm is handicapped accessible, Bennett said. Kids are welcome too.

Since the program started in September, about a dozen people have signed up.

To signup, call Bennett at 315-528-6344 or email her at [email protected] .