What is the difference between this program and apprenticing on a farm?

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.

What is the weekly schedule and time commitment for the program?

The students are on site approximately 36 hours per week (about 936 total hours overall); 5 of those hours are spent in a more traditional classroom setting each week. The rest of the time is spent out in the field – some of this time is instructional and some of this time is spent doing farm work. Here are more details about the weekly schedule.

Is this program right for someone with little experience in farming?

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.

What work is required off the farm?

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.

20110717_Farmer_Apprentice-25What are the housing options?

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 $500 and $800 per month for housing. We also support accepted students by connecting them with others in the program who are looking for group housing.

Are there scholarships or grants available?

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, David Carlson, via email at dcarlson@uvm.edu (preferred) or by phone at (802) 656-0581, and Program Specialist, Kelly Baldwin at Kelly.Baldwin@uvm.edu, 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.

Is financial aid available for this program?

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.

How many people will be in the program in 2024?

For 2024, the program is limited to 25 students.

What is the tuition for the Farmer Training Program?

For 2024, the program tuition is $6,650, which does not include housing or meals.

What is the payment policy for this program?

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, ATTN: Accounts Receivable.

What is the refund policy for this program?

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, 2024. A full refund, less an $800 non-refundable fee and a $50 cancellation fee, will be made.

After April 1, 2024, 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, 2024: 50% refund
April 16, 2024 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.

Besides tuition, what are other costs involved with attending this program?

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

  • Housing: $500 to $800 per month
  • Meals: $200 to $400 per month
  • Tools/Materials: $200 total (approximate)

What do participants do with this certificate?

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.

Where do FTP students come from?

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 varied states.

  • Vermont
  • Massachusetts
  • California
  • Virginia
  • Arizona
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • New York
  • Ohio

What’s the average age of participants?

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.

Why does the program cost $6,650?

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 4 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 (who interact with our students on a weekly basis)