Along the backroads of the small town of Northfield is Green Mountain Girls Farm, where Laura Olsen UVM ’92 and Mari Omland grow vegetables, raise pigs and turkeys, host farm stays, and run a popular farm stand.
This summer, Analiese Morvan, a Northfield native and incoming first-year UVM student, and Rose Thackeray, UVM ’17, of Warren, are working at the farm, learning everything from harvesting vegetables to caring for livestock.
Green Mountain Girls Farm owner Laura Olsen, left, with incoming UVM student Analiese Morvan and recent graduate Rose Thackeray.
In its eight years of operation, Green Mountain Girls Farm has hired its fair share of UVM students and alumni. While Laura has a soft spot for her alma mater and is always pleased to hire UVM students and alumni, hiring someone depends on whether they are a good fit at the farm.
Laura and Mari tend to use behavioral interviewing when screening applicants because it’s a solid predictor of future performance.
“People who have worked on a farm or in a restaurant are pluses. We like to hire people who can multitask, have a strong work ethic, communicate well, and can do the janitorial work that comes with farming, like cleaning livestock equipment and washing vegetables,” Laura says. “We want people to learn what it takes to run a sustainable farm and food business, and to take that forward with them.”
Summer on the Farm
Analiese, who has worked at the farm for the past three summers, will study animal science at UVM. Since she was 10 years old, she has helped raise and train her grandparents’ oxen. In recent years, she has competed in oxen shows around the region, including Eastern States in Springfield, Mass., where she won a top herdsman award.
“Oxen are rewarding to train, and I’ve learned about patience,” says Analiese, 18. “Oxen are smart, sweet, and challenging—and they have their own unique personalities.”
One of Analiese’s earliest experiences working at Green Mountain Girls Farm was arriving at the crack of 7 a.m. to help neuter goats. She loved every minute of it.
“Before coming to Green Mountain Girls Farm, I had only worked with oxen. Here I’ve learned about all different kinds of animals and their care,” she says. “And there are so many rewards of harvesting vegetables and knowing that you have grown something in a sustainable way.”
Recent graduate Rose, who majored in environmental studies at UVM, became interested in farming during her undergraduate career. The 22-year-old grew up in Braintree, Mass., where dance was a big part of her life. As she has grown older, she is less interested in the spotlight, and finds comfort working behind the scenes.
Rose’s connection to food began when she worked in restaurant kitchens in Burlington and the Mad River Valley. She spent last summer working at Maple Wind Farm in Richmond (where her “a-ha” farming moment happened), and found the Green Mountain Girls Farm job through the NOFA-VT website. She plans to stay at Green Mountain Girls Farm indefinitely.
“One of the rewards I find with farming is being with the people who are alongside of me doing this work,” she says. “It’s been an opportunity to create meaningful relationships.”
For Laura, the people she hires need to understand that working at Green Mountain Girls Farm is more than a job.
“We hold ourselves to high expectations. We want people who care and who want to be here,” she says. “There is so much satisfaction in raising food and doing it right. Farming can also be a part of addressing climate change, public health, and water quality. There are so many ways to make a difference in the world just by farming well.”