New program trains the next generation of farmers


New program trains the next generation of farmers

Apprenticeship sparks interest in agriculture among some students


Posted 21 September 2011, by Jordanna Goodma and Sarah Strohmayer, The Vermont Cynic,



After six months of being a student in the Farmer Training Program, students will have all the skills they need to start and sustain their own farm.

New to the University of Vermont, the Farmer Training Programs aims to train students in hands-on skill based education in sustainable agriculture, according to their website.

“We want the students to be leaders in the food systems, and through their knowledge, create new sustainable farms,” Andrea Ziga, program planner, said.

Currently, the program has 12 students enrolled in its first ever session taking place at the University of Vermont.

“I love Vermont and I saw this program so I did it,” Danielle George, a student in the Farmer Training Program, said.  She said that she is enjoying the program and what it has to offer.

George said that not all of the students are involved in the program because they want to be farmers.  She said although some want to be farmers, others are in it because they want to work in the field of agriculture and food systems.

One of the goals of the program is to use all of the diverse resources available in the community to help students learn, Program Director Susie Walsh Dalso said.

“The program has a deep appreciation for the greater community,” Dalso said. “The hands on experience, research and classroom teaching make this a one of a kind program to create the sustainable farmers of tomorrow.”

George said that the program meets five days a week — two days at UVM’s horticulture farm, two days at other, local farms and one day in the classroom or on a field trip.

At UVM’s horticulture farm, she said the students have farmed the land that started out as sod.  According to the program’s website, it is at this site where the students are encouraged to think like farmers.

At the horticulture farm, the students do a variety of tasks, including observing crops, planting crops in the field, and taking care of weeds and pesticides, George said.

“I didn’t know anything about farming before this program, but I’ve learned a lot,” George said.

On the two days that the students spend at other farms there are three farms in particular that they go to, she said.  They go to Bread & Butter Farm, Intervale Community Farm, and Half Pint Farm, which is a smaller farm part of the Intervale.

George said that at the Bread & Butter Farm in Shelburne, she and the other students learn about the cows that are raised there and how they are used for meat and milk.

At the Intervale Farm in Burlington, she said they deal grow a lot of food for the purpose of CSA shares, where people pay cash up front for the food of their choice for the season.

George said that the CSA system is really great because it helps the farmers by giving them cash up front.

At the third farm that they visit, the Half Pint Farm, they help produce food that is sold at local Farmers Markets and to local grocers and restaurants.

Already at Michigan State and UC Santa Cruz, the farming apprenticeship program hopes to help the nontraditional students by furthering their education, according to their pamphlet.

The second session of the Farmer Training Program begins May 2 and is now accepting applications.



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