Posted on Mon, May 02, 2011 by Intern
3 Comments | Categories: Farms and Farming, Youth Food Movement,
by Grace Moore
Vermont’s exciting new Sustainable Farming Certificate program is linking experienced farmers with promising apprentices and practical experience to train much-needed new farmers. Slow Food Vermont leader Mara Welton and her husband Spencer are helping to spearhead this new program by lending their expertise.
Just over ten years ago, Mara and Spencer got their first taste of farm life working on a Boulder, Colorado flower and herb farm. Fast forward a few years, and you’ll find the couple setting up hoop-houses and spinning greens on the aptly named Half Pint Farm, a 2 acre specialty and baby vegetable farm located in Burlington, Vermont’s Intervale.
As the Weltons enter their ninth growing season, they’re bringing their expertise and experience to the table in the new partnership with University of Vermont’s Sustainable Farming certificate program.
The 5-month certificate program joins the ranks of Michigan State and UC Santa Cruz in providing educational training to aspiring farmers through experiential education. In addition to their time at Half Pint Farm, program participants will work with Intervale Community Farm, Bread and Butter Farm, and City Market Co-op on a rotating schedule, building skills in all aspects of a productive farm from weed management to entrepreneurial skills. This experience will be developed further through weekly lectures and practice plots.
Mara, of Half Pint Farm, says the program arose from the need for new and potential farmers to gain hands-on experience. She expects the program will “inspire people to be creative with their farms” and help them avoid the unexpected pitfalls that many beginning farmers face. Through the well-rounded program, students will not only gain farming experience, but also develop skills that make them “savvy in the business place.” By the end of the program, Mara says, graduates should be able to visualize a business plan so that their farm is successful from the offset.
Interested applicants can learn more about the program by visiting UVM’s Certificate in Sustainable Farming page or by reading up on UVM’s newly developed Spires of Excellence. Applications for the late May-November program are accepted on a rolling basis.