The Short Version:

The Vermont Farm Immersion Program, Inc. is in the process of becoming a 501c3 educational organization whose mission is to inspire, guide, and educate the next generation of farmers and food business entrepreneurs.

We are offering three 28-day summer farm immersion programs this summer.

The populations served are primarily individuals, especially women, 18 and up, who are passionate about learning how to grow food sustainably and/or start a farm or create a food business of some kind. Maybe you are in a career transition, or have always wanted a business in agriculture. Perhaps you are in an agriculture program at the college level (not required). Some scholarship money will hopefully be available to help ag-passionate people who are unemployed, underemployed, or underprivileged.

Each of the one-of-a-kind, hands on, experiential programs intensively explores all aspects of growing certified organic vegetables, fruits, and medicinal herbs as well as year round, climate protected, sustainable hydroponic (grown in water) greens, farm animal care, beekeeping, operating a farm stand and maple sugar house, agritourism events, pick your own, wholesale produce accounts, CSA's, creating farm camps for kids, food & farm tours, and an introduction to a large variety of local food businesses. 

We are seeking funding to create a scholarship fund so that the cost of the program will not be a deterrent for those that really want to participate.

Interested? Send us an email to be put on the list to receive an application.
Want to donate to the scholarship fund? We’d love to hear from you too!

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To get an idea of what we are offering, here are some videos from the past few years and the programs we’ve produced.

This is the first pilot program that Amy created for a 28 day program originally named the Food, Healing and Wellness Retreat.

What are the problems we’re trying to solve through this program?

“According to the USDA, the average age for a farmer is now 58 and has been on the rise for 30 years. There are now six times more farmers 65 and older than there are farmers 34 and under, according to one study." (NBC News, 2014.) Less than 1% of the U.S. population is growing our food. Large farms are buying up smaller farms, much like big box stores buy up smaller mom and pop businesses. Climate change is making growing outdoors even more challenging. 

Many people are learning that their food is their medicine and yet most of the food available in stores is filled with toxic synthetic chemicals and does not promote vibrant health while also damaging the planet. Few people are cooking from scratch and are instead buying processed food or take out. We also have a healthcare (sick-care) crisis in this country. People seem to be looking for a pill or quick fix to get rid of their symptoms rather than look for the cause of the problem. 

We believe that we need more people practicing sustainable and climate protected growing techniques in order to feed themselves and the population. They’ll also learn about healthy eating and food preparation, and other wellness practices. Collaborations with other local food producers will provide exposure to a wide variety of food business possibilities. We will inspire participants to become growers, or work for other farms, and/or create a food related business. What our participants will learn in our 28-day program will give them concrete tools for a healthier more sustainable way of living, and a possible new career.

The first season of our week long farm camp for kids ages 9-14.

Our Solutions:

Unlike most of the agricultural education programs in the U.S., the Vermont Farm Immersion Program is not set inside of a university or school building. Our classrooms feature hands on, learn by doing, primarily on two successful commercial farms. A variety of field trips to other local farms and food businesses will round out the exposure and inspire opportunities and connections.

Three 4-week residential programs will be offered from June-September of 2019.
Over the course of 4 weeks, participants will become familiar with and, participate in, all aspects of certified organic and hydroponic crop production (sustainable and climate protected agriculture) through harvesting; packaging and display, including: seed selection, soil and water management, soil bed preparation, planting, weeding, harvesting, crop protection and season extension, predators and pests, etc. Also, we will include: display and merchandising; pick your own; events and agritourism; retail and wholesale; running a farm stand and CSA (Community Supported Agriculture shares); produce delivery options; working with the public/customer service; local, state and federal certifications and permits; marketing; funding a farm, land acquisition; and special on farm projects. 

A variety of field trips are planned to raise awareness and provide an introduction to other agricultural and food business options, such as: honey bees and apple orchards (hard cider and honey), cheesemaking (goat and cow milk), hemp and CBD production, grape growing and wine making, hops and beer making (we are home to a large and popular brewery, Lawson’s Finest Liquids), chickens and egg production, medicinal and culinary herbs and mushrooms, horses and livestock care (we have our own horses, and will have goats this season. We pasture grass fed cows on our land.)

We believe that our food truly is our medicine. “Made from scratch” meals using our own local, organic, and hydroponic, nutrient dense whole foods will be the mainstay of our diets. We are hiring a well-trained chef (a great guy, who happened to be a participant on the TV show, Hell’s Kitchen) to prepare our meals and teach the culinary arts. We will feature family style meals. An introduction to juicing, canning, and preserving will also be shared to inspire what can be done on a home scale. Complimentary healing methods will be introduced (particularly medicinal herbs and mushrooms) via meeting with local experts as well as watching some educational documentaries. 

The leaders of the program, Amy Todisco and Dave Hartshorn, each come with over 30 years of experience in: certified organic and sustainable hydroponic growing, running successful farm businesses and programs (farm stands, CSA’s, a fifth generation maple sugarhouse, farm and wellness retreats, farm and food tours, workshops, farm camps), green living expertise, life coaching, a massage therapy & healing background, marketing and social media experience.

Funds are being raised to create a scholarship program so that cost will not be an impediment for interested people. Additionally, income qualifying Vermont residents will be encouraged to seek a VSAC grant to help pay expenses. We are also seeking funding in order to create on farm lodging for students.

This is a great taste of what the hydroponic greenhouse has to offer.

For the 2018 farm season, Amy created some unique, experiential food & farm tours. This was a 2.5 hour taste of what some experiences and food on the farm will be like for the 28 day immersion.