The Vermont Farm Immersion Program at Hartshorn Farm
Spend 14 days with us on the farm this summer and be transformed. August 11-25, 2019. We reduced the length of the program to two weeks to accommodate more people’s schedules and pocketbooks.
We realize that you may need to connect with us directly to get a feel for who we are and if this program is a fit for you in order to commit two weeks to it. So, I’m offering a complimentary 15 minute conversation on the phone or Zoom (so we can see each other, if you like) to answer your questions and give you a clearer sense of if this program will take you to your next step.
We’re growing a new crop of farmers & food entrepreneurs this summer!
Is that YOU?
The Short Version:
The Vermont Farm Immersion Program, Inc. is a 501c3 educational nonprofit organization registered in the state of Vermont whose mission is to inspire, guide, and educate the next generation of farmers and food business entrepreneurs, as well as empower individuals to grow food at home sustainably and with climate change in mind.
We are offering a single two week, experiential learning summer farm immersion programs in August.
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, and/or create a food business of some kind.
Are you in an agriculture program or looking for a career transition? Have always wanted a business in agriculture? Looking to go “back to the land” and connect more deeply with nature and growing food?
Perhaps you are a busy entrepreneur who lives in a city or suburb and is looking for a reset—valuable time spent on working farms, connecting with the land, the plants, the animals, with others, and learning about the how’s and why’s of healthy food growing, preparing, shopping and eating.
This one-of-a-kind, hands on, 14 day residential and experiential program 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.
The fee includes the full program, including field trips, 3 organic meals per day, and housing. Ready to apply? Go here. Please print out the form, fill it in, and send it back to us at: 264 Quarry Road, Waitsfield, VT 05673.
Here’s a list of the topics we may be covering, in no particular order:
Organic Agriculture basics
Hydroponic growing basics
Starting a food business
Organic Field Planning and Research
Soil Testing & Structure
Seed choices and soil amendments
Seeding and transplanting
Cold frames, greenhouses, and season extension
Weather, crop protection from diseases, predators, etc.
Farm life cycles
Display and merchandising
Farmer's Market and CSA's
Events and agritourism
Pick your own
Culinary-cooking, baking and juicing
Diet choices: vegan, vegetarian, paleo, conventional (standard American Diet)
Farm to table
Bees and apple orchards
Cheese making (goats and cows)
Grapes and wine
Hops and beer making
Hard cider and apples
Chickens and eggs
Medicinal & culinary herbs
Medicinal & culinary mushrooms
Horses and Livestock (on our own farm and others)
Swimming in the river
Food & Ag documentaries
The date is:
Sunday, August 11- Sunday, August 25, 2019.
We received some generous grant money for our scholarship fund to help ag-passionate people who may need some financial assistance in paying for the program. Also, if you are an income qualifying Vermonter, you can also apply for a VSAC grant.
Interested? Here’s the application.
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.
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 late June-early October 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 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 sugar house, 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.