University of Vermont

Grow with us

The Youth Agriculture Project helps young people build life and job skills through hands-on learning about food, nutrition, and agriculture.

Youth Agriculture Project

How We Farm

Girl watering crops

The Youth Agriculture Project uses organic practices to grow and harvest vegetables, herbs, fruits, and berry crops on our 1-acre field, in our greenhouse, and in small surrounding gardens. Each season, we grow over 1,000 pounds of produce with schools and other community partners, donating about half.

Volunteering
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Tillage - We till the main 1-acre field, but try to keep tillage to a minimum by using cover crops and other mulches to smother out weeds. In the small Children's Garden, we prepare the soil using the "Lasagna Gardening" method: Instead of noodles, sauce, and cheese, we cover the area with layers of wet newspapers, peat moss, moldy hay, mulched leaves, and home-made compost. These decompose with the help of worms, bacteria, and other small animals over the winter and turn into a deep rich soil, full of nutrients and perfect for planting in!

Soil amendments - Instead of synthetic fertilizers, we use natural fertilizers such as bone meal, blood meal, soy meal, and limestone to add nutrients and balance the pH of our soil.

Pest control – We use a variety of methods to avoid and deter pests, including crop rotation, interplanting, trap crops, and a whole lot of hand-picking. As a last resort for severe infestations, we turn to spraying with an organic treatment such as Pyrethrum, which is made from fermented chrysanthemums.

Energy – We start planting in the early spring, using water barrels and multiple layers of insulation to take advantage of solar gain. As much as possible, we avoid using the backup propane heater. We sometimes also use a corn stove, which works just like a pellet stove but burns non-edible fuel corn.

Equipment – Although we emphasize hand tools and minimal tillage, larger machinery is sometimes needed. We fuel our Ford 1310 tractor with B100 (100% biodiesel) when the weather gets warm enough, and B20 in spring and fall. We also use a BCS walk-behind rototiller, a lawnmower, and a Mantis mini-tiller.

Last modified December 13 2013 11:42 AM