Farmers at the UVM Farmer Training Program engaging in farming.

Pursue Your Dream of Becoming a Farmer

Farmer Training Program

Hands-on, skill-based education in sustainable agriculture.

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Program Snapshot

Next Start Date

April 29, 2024

Next Application Deadline

April 1, 2024

How Often

Offered once per year

Cost

$6,650 (housing and meals not included)

Learning Format

On Campus

Duration

26 weeks

Time Commitment

40 hours per week

Credential

Certificate in Sustainable Farming

VA Benefit Eligible

Yes

Scholarships

Yes

Discounts

No

CEUs

No

Additional Details

Scholarships are available for accepted students. Applications for scholarships are emailed to accepted students in early January. The due date for scholarship applications is February 1st and scholarship applicants are notified of awards by February 15th.

Overview

UVM’s Farmer Training Program is a six-month, hands-on program for aspiring farmers and food-systems advocates that provides experiential, skills-based education in sustainable farming. Students will get a unique and comprehensive education by running all aspects of the 10-acre Catamount Educational Farm, learning from expert farmers and educators in the classroom, and alongside successful, inspiring farmers in the Burlington area. The Farmer Training Program is housed in UVM’s Plant and Soil Science Department, providing students the opportunity to interact with and learn from many of the faculty and staff who teach in the program and conduct research at the farm. Based within the Plant and Soil Science Department at UVM, the program provides students access to UVM’s academic ecosystem and top experts in the field. PLANT YOURSELF IN A NEW FIELD!

Why this program is important?

Now more than ever we need to sow seeds of resistance. Climate change, environmental degradation, poverty, and food access – are all issues at the forefront of our society. We must combat these socio-economic and environmental problems however we can. Growing local food is one significant way. Small, diversified farms that employ sustainable practices can improve soil, water and air quality, sequester carbon and increase biodiversity. The Farmer Training Program provides you the skills to manage a diversified farm and be that change our planet so desperately needs. Planting those seeds of resistance is the first step to localizing your community’s food system and healing the earth.

Why Vermont?  

Vermont is a national model in alternative food-systems development with its network-based approach. Here you’ll find farmers, food-systems advocates, regional food hubs, policy makers, and community members committed to increasing production and consumption of local foods. Vermont has the highest number of farmers’ markets and CSAs per capita than any state, and it’s consistently ranked among the healthiest, greenest places in the nation. When it comes to local food, Vermont proves what’s possible.

Graduates will gain:

  • A Certificate in Sustainable Farming from UVM
  • Experience in organic crop production, from seed to market
  • A deeper understanding of small-scale farm management
  • Entrepreneurial skills to start a farm business
  • A network of incredible people to provide support and guidance

Admissions

The program is designed for people interested in immersing themselves in sustainable, local food systems in a hands-on educational setting. Candidates include, but are not limited to: new and beginning farmers, urban and community gardeners, farm educators and students interested in deepening their understanding of sustainable farming systems in an intensive and focused learning environment.

Curriculum

Our curriculum starts in the field and continues in the classroom – from learning how to harvest arugula efficiently to listening to a presentation on soil fertility management – every part of the program emphasizes an applied, skill-based education. Over the course of six months, the UVM Farmer Training Program couples the invaluable approach of hands on learning with a classroom component and immersive rotations with incredible, successful local farmers. Working closely with experts in the field, the curriculum is designed to cover essential topics, using multiple formats throughout the growing season to build students’ experience, confidence, and skills. It is a learning experience unlike any other. Topics covered in the field and in the classroom program include:

  • Vegetable, flower and herb production
  • Integrated, small scale poultry systems
  • Integrated grazing systems
  • Organic soil fertility management
  • Compost production and use
  • Cover cropping and crop rotation systems
  • Propagation and greenhouse management
  • Direct sowing and transplanting
  • Crop families
  • Individual crop classes
  • Harvest and post-harvest handling techniques
  • Strawberry, blueberry, raspberry and apple production
  • Season extension
  • Organic pest, disease and weed management
  • Irrigation systems
  • Tractor and small equipment operation
  • Tillage systems including regular, low and no till
  • Hand tools and field systems
  • Product safety
  • Winter greens production
  • Perennial systems and permaculture methods
  • Understanding of food production as part of an ecological system
  • Basic carpentry skills
  • Electric fence systems
  • CSA management
  • Farmers market
  • Wholesale marketing
  • Marketing to a retail coop
  • Farm financials
  • Agricultural business planning
  • Collective farm model
  • Crop planning and field mapping
  • Organic certification process
  • Land Access
  • Systems and record keeping
  • Preservation and storage
  • Seed saving
  • Farm field trips
  • Independent projects
  • Social justice issues in the food system

Student Stories

Staff

Guest Instructors

  • Andy Jones – Manager of Intervale Community Farm in Burlington, VT
  • Ann Hazelrigg – Plant pathologist for UVM Extension and instructor
  • Annie White – Plant and Soil Science Lecturer
  • Brandon Bless – Co-owner and farmer of Bread and Butter Farm in Shelburne, VT
  • Corie Pierce – Co-owner and farmer of Bread and Butter Farm in Shelburne, VT
  • Dave Barrington – Retired Plant Biology Professor
  • Don Stevens — Chief of the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk – Abenaki Nation
  • Ernesto Mendez – Plant and Soil Science Chair and Professor, Co-Director of UVM’s Agroecology and Livelihoods Collaborative
  • Fred Magdoff – Emeritus Professor of Plant and Soil Science at UVM; co-author of the fourth edition of Building Crops for Better Soil: Sustainable Soil Management
  • Hans Estrin – Produce Safety Accreditation Program Coordinator
  • Hilary Martin – Co-owner of Diggers’ Mirth Collective Farm in Burlington, VT
  • Jacob Mushlin – Owner of Compose Design Build
  • Jen Miller – Farm Services Director at NOFA-VT
  • Jessica Sanford – Owner and farmer of Adam’s Berry Farm in Charlotte, VT
  • Josh Faulkner — Research Associate Professor; Interim Director, Center for Sustainable Agriculture; Farming and Climate Change Program Coordinator; Director, Agricultural and Environmental Testing Lab
  • Lindsey Ruhl – UVM Extension Research Specialist, Northwest Crops and Soils Program
  • Martha Caswell – Institute for Agroecology, Associate Director of Community and Learning
  • Nicole Dehne – Vermont Organic Farmers Certification Director
  • Rebecca Maden – Vegetable Nutrient Management Specialist
  • Sara Armstrong Donegan – Farm Business Specialist at the Intervale Center
  • Taylor Mendell – owner and farmer of Footprint Farm in Starksboro VT
  • Teresa Mares – Associate Professor of Anthropology and the Director for the Graduate Program in Food Systems; author of Life on the Other Border: Farmworkers and Food Justice in Vermont 
  • Terry Bradshaw – Director of UVM’s Horticultural Research Center, Research Associate for Plant and Soil Science
  • Vic Izzo – Plant and Soil Science Department, Research Associate and Lecturer; Institute for Agroecology, Head of Undergraduate Education
  • Wendy Sue Harper – WSH Consulting, Soil Scientist and previous Professor at UVM

Cost & Time

For 2024, the program tuition for this six-month program is $6,650, which does not include housing or meals.

At time of registration you will be charged $850. The remaining balance of $5,800 will be charged to your account the first month following your registration. 50% of the remaining tuition cost ($2900) is due by March 1, 2024. All payments must be paid in full by April 1, 2024. An attendee will not be allowed to attend this offering if a balance is due.

If you wish to pay by credit card, please contact the Non-Credit Registrar’s Office at (802) 656-8407. If paying by a check or purchase order, these payments must be made payable to UVM or University of Vermont and mailed to UVM Non-Credit Registrar’s Office at 109 South Prospect St, Burlington VT 05405.

Other costs involved with attending this program:

Here are some estimates of additional costs students should plan for:

  • Housing: $700 to $1000 per month (refer to the Information Packet section below for additional housing resources available to enrolled students)
  • Meals: $200 to $400 per month
  • Tools/Materials: $200 total (approximate)

Farm Partners

Abdoulaye Niane
Abdoulaye Niane of Khelcom Farm FTP 2021 alum

Field Trip Farms

Field trips give students an opportunity to gain a different perspective of life on the farm and see a diverse set of farming operations and marketing models throughout the state. Vermont is home to a wide array of innovative farmers who are willing and open to host students on their farms for tours, workshops, and work parties during the peak of the growing season. Through the program, students will be introduced, and at times inspired by an extensive network of farmers who are committed to small-scale agriculture as a career path and a way of life.

Black Dirt Farm is a diversified family farm in Stannard, Vermont (located in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom). They collect food scraps from their community, forage hens, make compost and worm castings with the excess food and manure, and use them to nourish their soils and crops. Their farm is firmly based in regenerative agricultural practices and the creation of sustainable food systems. They are proud of their products and excited to share them.

The average business and institution generates considerable amounts of discarded food. Black Dirt’s collection service picks up that material and puts it back into the local food system and economy, instead of sending to the landfill to get wasted and create pollution. They provide full-service collection for businesses, institutions, and community recycling centers. Black Dirt Farm offers weekly collection of food scraps from businesses and institutions in the Northeast Kingdom, Lamoille Valley, and Central Vermont.

Diggers’ Mirth Collective Farm is located in the Burlington’s Intervale. They collectively own and manage this 12 acre certified organic farm, which was founded in 1992. As a collective, each partner works to make production and marketing decisions jointly. They grow a variety of vegetables, annual herbs and root crops, specializing in high quality greens. Digger’s Mirth sells their produce to Burlington businesses and restaurants, at the Burlington Farmer’s Market and from their mobile veggie stand in the streets of the Old North End. The name Digger’s Mirth comes from the Digger movement, which took place in England in the mid-1600s: supporters were striving to create a connection between humans and their natural surroundings, and believed in collective land ownership and farming.

Fat Sheep Farm & Cabins offers a unique lodging experience on their working farm. Located on 60 acres in Hartland, Vermont, they are only 11 miles south of Woodstock and Quechee, and close to many Upper Valley tourist destinations.

Visitors can enjoy the stunning views from one of their 5 private cabins overlooking their growing fields and the beautiful hills in the distance. They offer farm activities, lawn games, a natural playground, a large fire pit with great sunset views and endless opportunities for relaxation. Guests on the farm are invited to share in the gifts of farm life. Guests can enjoy fresh produce from their fields and pasture raised eggs from their chickens.

Kids and adults are welcome to help feed the animals, collect eggs from their chickens, milk the sheep, and learn about cheesemaking (depending on season and availability). They also have 3 horse stalls available for guests that wish to bring their four-legged friends with them.

Footprint Farm is a small farm in most respects. They farm on about 10 acres in Starksboro, Vermont. They raise certified organic vegetables, flowers, and eggs, as well as pork and maple syrup that are not certified but are produced using the same organic principles. They have a CSA at the heart of their farm, which is a membership program in which 60 families from their community sign up for a season’s worth of produce, eggs, or pork. They also sell at the Shelburne Farmers Market, grow and arrange flowers for weddings, and host events from mushroom forays to puppet shows to preserving workshops.

High Mowing Seeds is a located in Wolcott Vermont. What started as a one-man operation is now a thriving business making available to home gardeners and commercial growers over 600 heirloom, open-pollinated and hybrid varieties of vegetable, fruit, herb and flower seed. True to their roots, High Mowing Organic Seeds continues to grow many of the varieties they sell on their 40 acre farm, setting them apart from the majority of other seed companies.

Khelcom Farm in Berlin, Vermont is a Black owned, family operated, sustainable urban farm with Senegalese roots. Abdoulaye Niane (FTP 2021 alum) and his wife Marja Makinen and their 3 children grow a wide variety of vegetables and flowers. Abdoulaye and Marja are cultivating harmony with the land and their community. Khelcom Farm was founded on the principle that education, hard work, and food sovereignty can liberate people and provide a better future.

Maple Wind Farm is a diversified pasture-based livestock, poultry, organic vegetable, and maple products farm located on two conserved properties in Huntington and Richmond, VT. Using environmentally sustainable practices and alternative energy inputs, they produce 100% grass-fed and grass-finished beef, heritage breed pork, certified organic and non-organic broiler chickens, layer chickens for eggs, and certified organic turkeys, all on pasture. They process our own poultry and poultry for other farmers at our Richmond-based Vermont-inspected poultry processing unit. Maple Wind Farm also operates a small sugar bush, offers winter yurt rentals, and relies on wind and solar power for much of its power requirements. They sell direct at our farm in Huntington (by appointment), at the summer Richmond and summer and winter Burlington farmers’ markets, and wholesale to restaurants and food markets and coops in Vermont and greater New England.

Old Soul Farm is located in central Vermont on 13 acres of sloping, south-facing mixed pasture and woodlands. It was originally a dairy farm and the owner prior to us kept horses so the pastures were managed and the soil was fertile. They have turned the few flat areas of that pasture into our vegetable fields and the sloping terrain around them have been planted with fruit trees, nuts, berries, flowers and other perennial plants. The idea is to create an edible forest which will feed us and the surrounding community throughout the year and which is managed in a way that is good for the earth. The owners are graduates of the Farmer Training Program.

Located in the Champlain Valley in Hinesburg, Vermont, Red Wagon Plants is a premium grower of heirloom and specialty plants for kitchen gardens. The Red Wagon team loves plants and grows them for their retail and wholesale customers at their greenhouses. As gardeners and cooks, their love of food starts with seeds and soil and ends with spoons and plates. They strongly believe that the kitchen garden has significance in providing not only fresh, wonderful food for the table, but also helps their communities be strong, healthy, and beautiful.

Julie Rubaud, the owner, was born in France, a country where they take their kitchen gardens seriously and simultaneously take them for granted; they are simply a part of life. When Julie moved as a child with her family to Vermont, gardens always helped to ground her and make her feel at home. When traveling as a teenager and a young adult, and later as a market gardener in her twenties and thirties, gardens of all kinds drew her in for a closer look and connection. Julie grows plants because she loves them and they speak to her. This sensitivity paired with her many years as a vegetable and herb farmer provides her with an expertise that is invaluable to her customers, her growing business, and to her employees.

Alumni

woman smiling with flowers in hand at farm

Gen grew up covered in soil, with a shirt full of gleaned potatoes from her family’s fields. Food was always a part of her definition of family and community. She spent a lot of time working in kitchens and in food retail spaces. Finding herself constantly looking out the window, it became clear that a shift back to soil and sun was calling. Enter FTP.

The program guided Gen’s longing for connection with land, food, and people and solidified an understanding of her role in the work of feeding others. Following FTP, Gen worked for a couple of seasons as the Farm Production Coordinator at The Farm at VYCC (Vermont Youth Conservation Corps), a youth development non-profit that has spearheaded the Health Care Share model in Vermont. This past year, she also co-founded and co-managed a small goat dairy herd, experimentally distributing raw milk and cheese every week to community members as a gift—an exploration of non-transactional, community-based food sharing. She continues to explore this topic along with a growing interest and skillset in on-farm slaughter and small-scale whole animal butchering.

Abdoulaye is an immigrant from Senegal in West Africa and grew up in the capital city of Dakar. He lived in Italy for over a decade before moving to the United States. He traveled to a few different places before landing in Vermont. He worked as a precision machinist for many years but after finishing FTP in 2021 he has pivoted to farming. Along with his wife and children he started Khelcom Farm in Berlin VT in 2022. Khelcom Farm is an urban farm which grows and sells diversified vegetables, herbs, cut flowers, and eggs. In addition, he always has an eclectic mix of chickens, water fowl, goats, and sheep for personal consumption. As his business grows, he is broadening out and incorporating other passions such as education and community building into his farming model. He continues to focus on building healthy soil, living in concert with the land, and sustainable practices. He credits FTP for giving him a solid foundation to have the knowledge and confidence to pursue this transition.

Evan was living and working in the tech startup world in San Francisco before moving to Vermont for FTP. Erika was finishing an AmeriCorps program in Montana. They each started the program with absolutely no experience raising food and fell quickly in love with the beautiful labor of feeding land and people — and with each other! They were inspired by an abundance of incredible farmer mentors but disturbed by the tight financial environment most farmers find themselves in and the economic paradigms that make growing food so challenging. They spent the years after FTP exploring cooperative farm models and alternative economics, eventually landing at Brush Brook Community Farm in Huntington, VT, a diverse livestock and veg operation that offered all food as a gift at no charge. They’ve been in love with sharing food, building community and gift-based living since, and jointly lead a few experiments in gift-based food distribution and work-party-based food production. They are still learning from and building on their time at FTP, and live a life that far exceeds what their pre-FTP brains could ever have imagined. Don’t hesitate to be in touch!

Eric joined the Farmer Training Program in 2019 to explore sustainable agriculture through personal, technological, and business lenses. He grew up in the suburbs of Long Island, NY and fell in love with farming after volunteering at Churchview Farmette in Pittsburgh, PA. FTP taught him crucial farm management skills, grounded his knowledge in broader political, social, and ecological contexts, and fostered so many meaningful, life-long connections. Eric is currently a software engineer building logistics software for Silo, a tech startup working toward transparency and sustainability in the produce supply chain. He still plans to start his own farm operation in New York that focuses on community building, seed saving, and ecological growing practices.

Our farming journey began in 2015, when Fabio quit his job slinging’ brews to intern with Paul + Sandy Arnold of Pleasant Valley Farm in Argyle, NY. Christine left her job as a veterinary assistant to join him through the Fall and Winter. Under the Arnold’s tutelage, we got our first taste of production, year-round farming – and fell head over heels.

Following the completion of our internships, we returned home and took over a family garden. That year we sold a few CSA shares and at a community farmers market while working “9-5” jobs to build our farm-nest-egg. After that important first season, it was clear which skills we each had and which we lacked. So, in 2018 we packed up again and moved to Burlington, VT to attend the Farmer Training Program at UVM. We credit FTP – and our incredible instructors, cohort, and rotational farm mentors – with filling in the gaps/teaching us the tools to become more thoughtful, capable, and confident farmers.

Post-VT and in pursuit of land to lease in our native Capital Region, we posted our profile on what is essentially a dating service for land-owners and land-seekers. With this resource, we connected with our incredible partners, Cecilia Aldarondo + Gabriel Kristal. In 2019 we broke ground on their land outside of Saratoga Springs, NY selling veggies and some flowers at three small farmers markets. That first season, the four of us built such a solid and reciprocal relationship, that when Cecilia + Gabe decided to relocate to the Hudson Valley, they asked if we would join them. So in 2020, mid-pandemic, our newly formed collective moved to our forever-farm in Catskill. Visit our farm’s website @ Nimble Roots Farm

Ian finished his undergrad studies with a degree in Environmental Science and had planned to make an impact from behind a desk somewhere. But some stints in NGOs and then in tech startups left him unfulfilled and yearning for more tangible results. With a taste for entrepreneurship and a desire for something more than the farmhand grunt-work he had done during summers in school, he found his way to the Farmer Training Program. The unique combination of practical work and lessons in theory he gained at FTP set him up to immediately start making the tangible impact he had wanted. Upon graduating from FTP, he got to work bringing some much-needed life to high-tech Controlled Environment Agriculture with Edenworks (a rooftop aquaponic greenhouse) and then Upward Farms (the world’s first Organic Certified, aquaponic vertical farm producing Ready-to-Eat greens for Whole Foods). For better or worse, the vertical farming bubble popped, but the strong foundation and diversity in training from FTP allowed Ian stay in the field of agriculture. He is now the Inspections and Compliance Program Manager for GrowNYC, which administers the largest farmers market network in the country. Whether puzzling out food safety regulations, developing traceability standards, or just talking with farmers about terrible weather, Ian continues to draw upon what he learned at UVM, even eight years after graduating. He recommends the program to anyone seeking to learn holistic, practical ways for making tangible impacts for their community.

Andrew Bahrenburg serves as a Senior Agricultural Marketing Specialist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, working on the Department’s food supply chain resilience and local food systems initiatives. He previously served as the agriculture and climate advisor for Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and in senior policy roles for American Farmland Trust and the National Young Farmers Coalition. Andrew graduated from the Farmer Training Program in 2013 and served as the FTP Farm Assistant and Educator for the two subsequent seasons before becoming an organizer and advocate for Rural Vermont. For Andrew, the Farmer Training Program helped provide the practical farming skill-set necessary to understand and advocate for small-scale farmers and local food systems at both the state and federal policy level.

Naked Acre Farm

From Oregon to Vermont, Ryan found his way to the Farmer Training Program in 2013. Prior to a transition to agriculture, Ryan was deep in the backcountry leading wilderness trips with youth. He is currently the sole farmer and owner of his business Naked Acre Farm. Ryan began farming immediately after he graduated from the program. Naked Acre Farm is featured on menus at Hen of the Wood and other high-end restaurants in Northern Vermont.  He attributes a lot of his initial success to his time spent learning from mentors and other farmers in the Farmer Training Program. For 2017, he is expanding to two acres. “After three seasons, I feel like I have a touch of farming wisdom, developed systems, established relationships with my markets, and a strong support system largely derived from my amazing FTP cohort who come help me weed and harvest garlic when the work seems too much.   In addition, I am looking to purchase land this year and to find my permanent Naked Acre to call home.”

Todd got into farming through a CSA workshare program at Green Gate Farms in Austin, TX. He had quit his Boston lawyer job and was looking for a fresh start. After a brief stint taking culinary classes and studying agricultural and food law, he decided to dive into farming full time and enrolled in FTP. He loved the program’s comprehensive approach to all aspects of a farm business, and the great network of farmers he was introduced to through the program. After a couple years working on different farms in Massachusetts, Todd and his partner, Suzy Kaplan, started Fat Sheep Farm & Cabins in Hartland, Vermont in 2016. They milk sheep, make cheese, grow vegetables, berries, and grain corn, and sell those products at their farmstand and to area restaurants. They offer farm-stays in five cabins on the property and guests can take workshops on cheese making, sourdough baking, and get tours of the farm. The farm-stay experience was voted best Vermont farm-stay by Yankee Magazine and has been featured in the Boston Globe Travel section, Food & Wine, Travel & Leisure, Outside Magazine, and Edible Vermont. Todd also serves on the policy committee for Vermont’s Farm to Plate Food System Plan, and is active in policy circles concerning regulations that impact agritourism.

A Week on the Farm

Farmer Training Program students gain most of their hands-on experience at UVM’s Catamount Educational Farm. They are exposed to a multitude of other farms through our weekly field trips. On top of all the experiential learning, students have lectures that deepen their production, marketing, and business planning knowledge.

Just like on a working farm, a week in the life of a student can be varied and diverse.  This is what a typical week In the Farmer Training Program looked like.

Plants and people in greenhouse

Just like on a working farm, a week in the life of a student can be varied and diverse.  This is what a typical week In the Farmer Training Program looked like. Some adjustments to the schedule will be made to address safety concerns in response to the COVID pandemic for the 2021 cohort.

To start off the week you have a crop class in the field to learn about the individual growing considerations and harvesting techniques of various crops. You then meet with your fellow students and program staff to do a field walk where you will assess the needs of the farm for that week. Students observe crop health, weed pressure, harvest needs, etc. to help create a list of tasks and priorities that need to be done. This weekly activity of the farm walk helps you hone your skills at “thinking like a farmer” and helps you develop a critical eye for what the pressing needs are on a farm. After the farm walk, the group has a meeting detailing the logistics and learning goals of the upcoming week. The remainder of the day students will develop their field work skills – operating tractors, harvesting, seeding in the greenhouse, or hoeing in the squash field.

All day Tuesday, you are on-site at Catamount Farm experiencing hands-on learning, while completing tasks designated as priorities in the field that week. It is a harvest day, so half of the students will work on harvesting and washing produce in preparation for our varied marketing channels: the Old North End (O.N.E.) Farmers’ Market on Tuesday afternoon, our Wednesday CSA pack-out and delivery, and for wholesale deliveries to some of UVM’s dining halls. In the afternoon some students will attend the O.N.E. market while other students will work in the field weeding, doing tractor work, and tending to farm chores.

Wednesdays are another day where everyone is at the farm. In the morning, one of the harvest crews will be packing out CSA shares. Other groups are continuing with priorities in the field – whether that is thinning the carrots, hilling the potatoes, trellising the tomatoes, or harvesting corn. The afternoon is a classroom day. Classes are taught by both FTP staff and guest speakers. Guest speakers include UVM professors, extension agents, area farmers, and other agriculture professionals. Class topics will include soil fertility management, pest and disease management, livestock management, food sovereignty, farm financials and business planning and more.

On Thursdays, the cohort is on the farm for half of the day. Farm priorities are accomplished as a team throughout the morning. In the afternoon, the group heads out to an area farm for a field trip. An array of farm operations are represented on our field trip days. We explore everything from goat farms to herb operations to farms managed cooperatively to compost making facilities. The intention of our field trips is to showcase for students the myriad facets that a future in farming can be.

Friday mornings start with either a written assessment on competency and understanding of highlighted skills and objectives from the previous two weeks or a discussion surrounding our assigned weekly readings. After reviewing the assessment in small groups or discussing readings, students and staff recount accomplishments and remaining priorities for the week. The latter part of the morning is spent in rotation groups to finish any necessary tasks before the weekend. Friday afternoons include another class to wind up the week. Fridays end earlier than other days of the week – we break at 2:30pm.

Information Packet

FAQ

This program offers a more formal, intensive approach to a farming education, with a weekly classroom day taught by a wide range of experts, including farmers, University professors, extension agents, and other professionals working in the local food system. The program is in UVM’s Plant and Soil Science Department, providing students the opportunity to interact with and learn from many of the faculty and staff who teach in the program and conduct research at the farm. In addition to the classroom curriculum, participants gain in-depth experience through managing the 10-acre Catamount Educational Farm with staff instruction, working alongside seasoned farmers with diverse business models, and visiting other local farms. Students also design and complete an independent project that allows them to further explore their specific interests. Unlike being an apprentice on one farm, where your main responsibility is to be a worker on the farm, the UVM Farmer Training Program offers time and resources for learning that a traditional farm apprenticeship cannot provide.

Students are on the farm Monday-Thursday 8:30-4 and Friday 8:30-2:30. This allows students to find employment on Friday afternoons and weekends. Students typically devote 40 hours a week to this program, which includes the time on the farm, reading assignments and projects. Some weeks will require a little more time to complete assignments and when students are on the farmstand rotation. Here are more details about the weekly schedule.

This program is geared for beginning farmers who have shown enthusiasm and commitment to sustainable agriculture. If you have not yet worked a full season on a farm, you can demonstrate that commitment through volunteering on a farm, attending conferences, WWOOFing, having a community garden plot, taking relevant courses, etc.

Each week students are assigned readings that correspond with the weekly classroom presentations. There are other projects that students are expected to complete including a crop planning exercise, farm financials and business planning project, soil fertility management exercises and a final independent project. Every other week an assessment will be administered to help students determine if they are meeting the learning objectives.

Students are responsible for finding their own housing in the Burlington area. They can choose to live in the thriving downtown area or in one of the nearby communities, opting to rent an apartment or a room, or share a house, depending on their preference. Students should expect to pay between $700 and $1000 per month for housing. We also support accepted students by connecting them with others in the program who are looking for group housing.

There are regional and national opportunities worth researching and applying for. A few great examples: Future Organic Farmer Grant Fund and VSAC Grants for non-degree courses (VT residents only). Women applicants can apply for scholarships from Les Dames d’Escoffier International. AmeriCorps educational stipends and the VA GI Bill can also be used to cover tuition. The University of Vermont is able to certify VA benefits for the Farmer Training program. If you intend to use VA benefits for this program, please register and contact UVM’s Veterans Affairs Coordinator, to inform the university of these intentions. To register without a deposit (if using Post 9/11 GI Bill or VRE Chapter 31) please call our Noncredit Office at (802) 656-8407.

Learn about additional options for discounts, grants, loans, scholarships, and more on our tuition and financial aid page.

The Farmer Training Program is a non-credit program, and therefore it is not eligible for financial aid, work study, or University loan programs. Previous students have taken out personal loans.

The program is limited to 25 students.

The program tuition is $6,650, which does not include housing or meals.

At time of registration you will be charged $850. The remaining balance of $5,800 will be charged to your account the first month following your registration. 50% of the remaining tuition cost ($2900) is due by March 1. All payments must be paid in full by April 1. An attendee will not be allowed to attend this offering if a balance is due.

If you wish to pay by credit card, please contact the Non-Credit Registrar’s Office at (802) 656-8407. If paying by a check or purchase order, these payments must be made payable to UVM or University of Vermont and mailed to UVM Non-Credit Registration Office, Re: Farmer Training Program, 109 South Prospect Street, Burlington, VT 05405, ATTN: Accounts Receivable.

If you need to cancel your attendance, you must notify us via email at learn@uvm.edu or call us at (802) 656-2085 by April 1. A full refund, less an $800 non-refundable fee and a $50 cancellation fee, will be made.

After April 4, refunds (less the $800 non-refundable fee and a $50.00 cancellation fee) will be issued according to the following dates:

April 1 through April 15: 50% refund
April 16 and beyond: NO REFUND

If a medical condition necessitates cancellation/withdrawal (documentation provided), this will be reviewed by our Studies Committee for any type for a refund.

Here are some estimates of additional costs students should plan for:

  • Housing: $700 to $1000 per month
  • Meals: $200 to $400 per month
  • Tools/Materials: $200 total (approximate)

Many participants use their experience in the program to start their own farm and food businesses or work for another farm. Graduates become educators or work for non-profits and other organizations, helping to reform our food system and increase access to local foods. This practical training program helps prepare students to be effective workers in the local, sustainable food movement as it continues to grow and create new job opportunities for qualified people. See our alumni page for profiles of our alumni and how they have incorporated their experience into a career.

The students who enter UVM’s Farmer Training Program come from all over the country. We often get a greater number of people from New England, but the remaining spots fill with individuals from a variety of regions around the country.

One of the rewarding aspects of FTP is that, because it’s a certificate program, it attracts individuals from a wide range in age demographic. Most students are in their mid to late 20s and early 30s, but we always have individuals who fall to either side of that range (from early 20s to early 60s). This range in life experiences and careers makes for rich conversation and perspective.

Participating in UVM’s Farmer Training Program means going back to school. This is a full-time, structured learning experience that uses UVM’s farm as its classroom. There are many dedicated instructors who teach within this program:

  • FTP’s 5 full-time staff members
  • Other farm staff members
  • Our many guest instructors (UVM professors, extension agents, area farmers, other agricultural professionals working at area non-profits)
  • Our partnership farmers