University of Vermont

Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences

On-Farm Summer Course Sign-Up Is Now

Outdoor Classes During Peak Season at Money Savings

This summer 10 outdoor, on-farm courses will be held at UVM's Horticulture Research Center. ~Cheryl Dorschner photo.

Aiming to take advantage of Vermont's renowned summer weather, the growing season and significant discounts, UVM's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is offering 10 outdoor, plant and soil science courses beginning May 21 and running variously throughout the summer.

"What better time to study food systems, organic practices, grape growing, agricultural ecology, weeds, insects and plant pathology than in summer when everything is flourishing," says Deborah Neher, chair of UVM plant and soil science. "That's why we made this possible – so students can experience first hand what they're studying.

Courses are headquarterd at the 97-acre University of Vermont Horticulture Research Center with its extensive plant collections, apple, grape and plant hardiness research, vegetable field crops, student-run CSA and many other ongoing activities are operating in tandem. Many classes make field trips to nearby farms and display gardens and labs on campus.

In its third year, UVM On-Farm Summer Institute includes a suite of four core courses (one each day) May 21-July 21, and electives later in the season. There's even an online perennial garden design course. Next summer, a complimentary batch of courses will be offered. 

"By selecting four core courses and an elective or two, students can shave a whole semester off of their degree program each summer," says Neher, "even graduating a year ahead after two summers or catching up if they've transferred from another program." 

In today's economy, this is an even more significant savings. Vermonters receive a 15 percent discount off of regular tuition for the core courses. Out-of-state students register at the regular Vermonter rate. And housing is offered in Slade Hall at $24 per day. Laundry service is also an option.

In fact, it's not only UVM students eyeing the UVM On-Farm Summer Institute – students from other colleges and universities in the Northeast are taking advantage of classes that embellish their own degree programs. Others are looking to customize their major area of studies. For example, a nutrition and food science major or a community entrepreneurship major would do well to add the Ecology of Food Systems course or have fun learning Cold Climate Viticulture. New farmers or those diversifying farms and serious gardeners are also attracted to the courses.

"I've had growers come to me and say, 'I wish I had a course like this when I was starting', says Yolanda Chen, who teaches Organic Farm Practicum.

Registration has begun and will run through May 1. Course size is limited. For details and registration through UVM Continuing Education visit UVM On-Farm website.