Growing Places– for aspiring and start-up farmers

The UVM Extension New Farmer Project is ready to help aspiring and start-up farmers learn the nuts and bolts of operating a farm business.  This October, Growing Places, a four-part course, will be offered at the Vital Communities offices in White River Junction and also at the UVM Extension office on Spear Street in Burlington, VT.

Picture of farmers at farmstand.

Growing Places graduate Lindsay Arbuckle with her partner Scott Courcelle. Together, they started Alchemy Gardens in 2010.

The Vermont New Farmer Network (a collaboration of statewide and regional organizations working with new farmers) has seen a growing demand for this education year-round.  Beginning farmers, homesteaders, gardeners, farm workers and apprentices regularly contact Network partners curious about how to turn their passion for production into a career. This surge in interest is shadowed by sobering national statistics from the 2007 USDA Census of Agriculture.  The report shows the number of beginning farmers in decline, from over 36% in 1982 to 26% in 2007.  With over 25% of farmers expected to retire in the next 20 years, it is critical that new ag entrepreneurs develop the skills to operate successful farm businesses.

With the support of a USDA Beginning Farmer & Rancher Development grant, the UVM Extension New Farmer Project is offering a continuum of courses to support this effort. The Growing Places course is designed to help people considering starting or expanding a commercial farm better understand the realities of operating an agricultural business.

Picture of farmer outside high tunnel.

Joe Buley of Screamin’ Ridge Farm and Joe’s Soups, Growing Places graduate.

The course introduces participants to the cornerstones of farm business development—goal setting and decision making, accessing capital and financial management, exploring markets, and learning about the resources and services available to support beginning farmers.

The in-person classes are scheduled for Tuesday evenings from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., beginning October 8. Preregistration is required. The course fee is $110 if received by the September 8 early registration deadline, and then $150 until September 22. Financial assistance is available for qualified applicants. Course information and online registration can be found on the “Classes” page. For questions and additional information, email To request a disability-related accommodation to participate, contact Jessie Schmidt at (802) 223-2389, ext. 203, or (866) 860-1382 (toll-free in Vermont) by September 22.

Picture of farmer by cage of chicks.

Lila Bennet of Tangletown Farm, Growing Places graduate.

In the fall and winter months the UVM Extension New Farmer Project will offer several additional courses of interest to beginning farmers, including Taking Stock (November, 2013), Building a Sustainable Business (December, 2013), Growing Places Online (January, 2014), Whole Farm Planning for Beginning Women Farmers (January, 2014) and Introduction to Ag Financial Management  (February, 2014). To learn more about the resources, services and other educational opportunities provided by the Vermont New Farmer Project and its partners, visit our online calendar.  If you would like to sign up to receive personal assistance with your farm plans, create a Farm Coach Account and request a follow-up call.


About Jessie Schmidt

Ag and Community Program Coordinator for the University of Vermont Extension.
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