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So You Wanna Be a Farmer… in Vermont?

Posted: July 12 2010

One of our allies from the Intervale Center, Mandy Davis, has compiled this wonderful listing of resources for young farmers and aspiring agrarians in Vermont.   We'll be posting more shortly about  the Intervale Center's farm incubator open house for aspiring farmers on August 26th
During the four years I’ve worked at the Intervale Center (http://www.intervale.org) – a small nonprofit in Burlington, Vermont with 20 years experience strengthening community food systems – I’ve met a lot of inspiring young farmers, as well as the service providers who work everyday for their success. In Vermont, we are fortunate to have a lot of organizations providing a range of services to new farmers, but I think it’s also sometimes confusing for people to know who to call. Here are four places to start:
The Vermont New Farmer Project (http://www.uvm.edu/newfarmer/) is an interactive website that is designed to connect beginning farmers with on-line and on-the-ground resources.  Every month, there are new webinars and online learning modules, new events on the calendar and new features being added; be sure to check it out. The good thing about this resource is that it’s one stop shopping with tons of great resources, and you don’t even have to be in Vermont to take advantage of it. The bad thing is it’s online.
For some human interaction, check out the work of the Rutland Area Farm and Food Link (http://www.rutlandfarmandfood.org), which provides a range of services for both farmers and eaters in southern Vermont. Through its New Farmer Initiative, RAFFL is working to connect new farmers in their region with the appropriate resources. They also have a beginning farmer workshop series coming up this summer in partnership with NOFA-VT; the kick off is a marketing workshop on July 14 (http://www.rutlandfarmandfood.org/upcoming_events.html)!
The next place I’d be sure to check out is NOFA-VT (http://www.nofavt.org).  This 40 year old nonprofit works to increase the amount of farmland that is certified organic while increasing access to healthy, local food for all Vermonters. It is where the Vermont Organic Farmers, LLC is housed, the organic certifying agent in the state (http://nofavt.org/programs/organic-certification). These are folks I’d get to know well. They are kind, knowledgeable and invested in your success.
Lastly, I’d like to introduce you to the Intervale Center. We host a cluster of agricultural programs aimed at helping new farms get started (http://intervale.org/programs/agricultural_development/intervale_farms.shtml) and opening markets (http://www.intervalefoodhub.com) and providing business planning for existing ones (http://intervale.org/programs/agricultural_development/success_on_farms.shtml).
Since 1990, over 40 farms have gotten their start in the Intervale Center’s Farms Program. This year, the Farms Program, our farm business incubator, is seeking motivated, passionate new farmers with three or more years experience on-farm who are ready to write a business plan and put their plan into action on a 1-2 acre farm in the Intervale. The Farms Program works to help beginning farmers overcome some of the common barriers to getting into farming – access to land, equipment and community – with the goal of growing fledging businesses that after 5 or so years are ready to transition onto land of their own. If this sounds like the kind of opportunity you’d like to seize, or if you’re interested in any of the programs or organizations I have mentioned, contact me at 802-660-0440 x 108 or [email protected] and I’ll do my best to help you as you pursue your dreams – and your livelihood – as a farmer.

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