Drivers rolling down scenic Bayberry Lane in Westport might be forgiven for being distracted. Next to the road, which undulates gently past multimillion dollar mansions and older ranch homes, a field has been ploughed.

Only the oldest local residents would remember the last time this land was worked – some 60 years ago. More surprising than the sight of the field is the people who are cultivating it: two twenty-something UConn graduates who have elected to slog away at the land.

Welcome to the new face of farming.

Small-scale farming is often a tough career choice: long, exhausting hours, an unpredictable income and price pressure from buyers. Not to mention being at the mercy of the weather. It's no wonder that so many farmers have opted out.

Greg Belta, whose 24-acre farm is tucked away off the same Bayberry Lane, half a mile from the newly ploughed field, knows how hard it can be.

Belta, 62, lost the roof of one farm building and his greenhouses were badly damaged by the heavy snows in the winter. Now, in the spring, frequent downpours have skewed his planting schedule.

In 2005, when developers were knocking on his door and real estate prices were cresting, he nearly threw in the towel.

“We were very close to that,'' says Belta. His two grown daughters persuaded him otherwise and now he's selling at farmers markets, on his farmstand and through community supported agriculture (CSA).

Like local growers across the county, a groundswell of community support for farming has transformed his business.

With a CSA arrangement, locals can buy a share in the farm's harvest at the start of the season. Customers pay typically $500-$600 for a full share and receive a weekly box of fresh and varied produce through the fall.

Belta's Farm started its CSA program last year for 20 customers. This year it will have 60.

“The CSA program brings in early money so you can pay your bills ahead of time,'' says Belta, whose family has owned the farm since 1945. “That all helps.''

Over at Stone Gardens Farm in Shelton, Stacia and Fred Monahan are in their fourth year selling through a CSA. The program this season has some 350 full shares, more than quadruple its first year.

“It's a growing business too,'' says 33-year-old Stacia Monahan. “We're hiring more people from the community.'' The farm has five employees and will hire five more to pick, wash and pack the fresh produce once the CSA starts.

Monahan and her husband started their farm in 1998 and they now till more than 50 acres for vegetables. They also raise livestock.

If they were selling at wholesale prices they “wouldn't be able to make it as a farm,'' says Stacia Monahan. “There would be no vegetable farm here.''

Local support for agriculture is also evident through the increased scattering of farmers markets. As of 2010, there were 21 such markets in Fairfield County.

“Farmers markets in Connecticut are sprouting up left and right,'' says Dr. Candace Benyei, president of Fairfield County Farm Bureau, Inc. a farming advocacy organization formed in 1915. “There's a huge demand for Connecticut-grown.''

Benyei, who has bred and trained horses at Whimsy Brook Farm in Redding for 40 years, said well-informed consumers in Connecticut are keenly aware of the environmental and energy costs of transporting produce over huge distances.