Meet our guest instructors and staff

The knowledge and resources within our community are exceptional. We are privileged to bring in these farmers, agricultural extension agents and other experts to teach our Farmer Training students.

Rachel Stievater (she/her)

Director, Farmer Training Program

Rachel StievaterRachel Stievater was turned on to the idea of farming while being a student at Oberlin College. She left school for hands-on experience and has never looked back. After apprenticing on farms in the northwest and northeast, she became a Field Manager at Hawthorne Valley Farm in Ghent, NY. Although a production farm, Hawthorne Valley also runs many programs for students. It was here that Rachel began to see the importance of incorporating education into agriculture.

This led her to Farm & Wilderness in Plymouth, Vermont where she became the Garden Manager for 4 years. Farm & Wilderness operates a year-round, highly diversified, small-scale farm. Seasonal interns, campers, and students learn through working on the farm.

She took a break from Farm & Wilderness to raise a son, start a homestead and a cut-flower business, and return to college at UVM to obtain a degree in Plant Biology. After finishing her degree at UVM, she realized she missed the educational side of farming and returned to work as the Garden Manager at Farm & Wilderness for another three seasons. Rachel was excited to return to UVM in 2015 as the Catamount Farm Manager and an FTP instructor. She moved into an FTP Co-Directorship role in 2017 and Director in 2020.

Jay Hardesty (they/them)

Catamount Educational Farm Program Coordinator and FTP Lead Instructor

Jay Hardesty blowing a kiss in a farm settingJay graduated from the Farmer Training Program in 2015 and then continued their farming career in Ohio, where they gained further experience in management, winter growing, microgreens and mushrooms. They’ve been working with FTP since 2018 as one of the core instructors. Along with daily farm tasks, they also work closely with students in the greenhouse, during harvest and at a weekly Farmer’s Market. In their free time, Jay loves to share homecooked meals with friends and sleep many hours. They also love dancing, bike rides, beach swims, smooching their dog Carrot, and tending their many gardens.

tanamá varas (all pronouns)

Catamount Farm Manager and FTP Lead Instructor

tanamá standing in a farm settingtanamá is a lifelong student of the earth, who has been involved with land stewardship work for the last decade. Beginning with conservation of butterflies and native plants to social movement organizing with peasants, tanamá has a wide range of experiences. This includes a formal B.S. in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems with a focus in agroecology from the University of California, Davis followed by multiple years of soil research at UC Berkeley. They have worked on various types of farms including at Zen centers, school gardens, non-profits, and indigenous communities.

tanamá is passionate about political education, a plastic-free agriculture, dismantling patriarchy, land reform, and prison abolition. They hope to see urban-rural migration in the near future. When his hands are not in the soil, he can often be found reading books on soil and anti-imperialism or at the skatepark connecting with youth on their role and importance in the food system.

Guest instructors:

  • Ann Hazelrigg – Plant pathologist for UVM Extension and instructor
  • Andrea Solazzo – Agriculture and Community Outreach Manager at the Vermont Foodbank
  • Annie White – Plant and Soil Science Lecturer
  • 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
  • Hans Estrin – Produce Safety Accreditation Program Coordinator
  • Jacob Mushlin – Owner of Compose Design Build
  • Janet Carscadden – Physical therapist and yoga instructor, co-owner of Evolution Yoga and Physical Therapy
  • Josh Faulkner — Plant and Soil Science Research Assistant Professor, Farming and Climate Change Program in UVM Extension Center for Sustainable Agriculture
  • Kimberly Hagen – Grazing Specialist with UVM extension and Center for Sustainable Agriculture
  • Marita Canedo – Migrant Justice
  • Michael Sundue – Research Assistant Professor in Plant Biology
  • Nicole Dehne – Vermont Organic Farmers Certification Director
  • Rebecca Maden – Vegetable Nutrient Management Specialist
  • Richard Wiswall – Owner of Cate Farm, Farm Business Workshops
  • Sid Bosworth – UVM Extension and Professor, Weed Management
  • Sam Smith – Intervale Center Farm Business Director
  • Terry Bradshaw – Director of UVM’s Horticultural Research Center, Research Associate for Plant and Soil Science
  • Vic Izzo – Entomologist, Adjunct instructor at UVM, Champlain College and Johnson State
  • Wendy Sue Harper – WSH Consulting, Soil Scientist and previous Professor at UVM