Farm Internships: Time to revisit the fair wage labor law

By Matthew Myers

Vermont farmers have been in the news lately for violating complicated labor laws that exempt agricultural labor from certain standards, but not other farm activities, like processing milk into cheese. Since the VT Department of Labor began investigating agricultural labor in 2013, many farmers have paid fines and back wages to remedy the violations. Interestingly, these same laws apply to students from UVM and elsewhere seeking agricultural skills through a longstanding real-world learning model: internships.

Organic Farm 2012

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Why Food Hubs Need Skilled Employees for Long-Term Viability

Food hubs are gaining traction in the local food movement. But as with any viable enterprise, operating a food hub requires a diverse set of skills to succeed.

Sixty-two percent of food hubs have been in existence for five years or less. The United States Department of Agriculture announced last month that it’s spending millions to support local food and regional food systems – including food hubs – and to encourage research on organic farming. As consumers seek to know more about where and how their food is grown, the local food movement is becoming one of the fastest growing segments of the agricultural economy.

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Marching for the Future of Food at the People’s Climate March

On September 21, 2014, I joined a sustainable agriculture contingent at The People’s Climate March in New York City, which laid claim to the largest climate march in history with over 400,000 people marching. All told, the climate march had 2,646 solidarity events in 162 countries. Media coverage was generous, which amplified the message:  “To Change Everything, We Need Everyone.” And the word got out to the world.  Climate change awareness is on the rise.

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One Season at UVM Turned this Scientist into a Farmer

Julia Cosgrove thought she would become a research scientist after college. But her career plans changed after joining the UVM Farmer Training Program.

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The Unintentional Chocolatier

During Sarah Fidler’s semester abroad in Paris during her junior year, she wrote a dissertation on pastries and macarons. She was fascinated by the anthropological side of cooking and baking, the history of why certain foods are made in different places, and how family tradition dictates the use of specific ingredients. Studying the role of petit fours on the French table was very different from what she was learning in her dietetics classes in the UVM Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences. Little did she know that her studies in France had planted a seed for her career.

Five years later, Sarah is Research and Development Specialist at Lake Champlain Chocolates in Burlington, VT. Before you have time to wonder if this means she gets to sample her creations, the answer is yes: “I eat a lot of chocolate at work.”

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