University of Vermont

UVM Farmer Training Graduation Celebrated on Oct. 31

Eighteen students receive certificate in sustainable farming

The University of Vermont Continuing Education hosted its 2012 Farmer Training Program graduation on Oct. 31, 2012. After successful completion of the six-month hands-on program, each of the 18 graduates received a Certificate in Sustainable Farming. Now completing its second year, the UVM Farmer Training Program provides students with a skill-based education in sustainable farming with the unique opportunity to manage their own growing site, take classes from professors and expert farmers, and rotate as learners on successful, diverse farms in the Burlington area.

This year’s graduates come from across the country and Canada.

Family and friends gathered at the John Dewey Lounge in UVM’s Old Mill building, where the graduates received words of inspiration, hope and reflection from Cynthia Belliveau, dean of UVM Continuing Education, the academic unit that launched and manages the program; Corie Pierce, a local farmer and program partner, who manages Bread & Butter Farm in Shelburne, Vt.; and Susie Walsh Daloz, director of the UVM Farmer Training Program. And, of course, there was no lack of local foods to fete the students.

Dean Belliveau delivered the graduation address.

She said: “This is an important moment – for you, and for our world. For you, it’s the beginning you have worked toward over the past six months. You have rolled up your sleeves and gotten to know our earth by cultivating, digging, weeding, harvesting, washing, packing, delivering, eating – and, most importantly, learning – learning how to grow and nurture a sustainable future. John Dewey, one of the university’s great thinkers, believed that to learn, we must do something in the world. You have done so.”

She recalled the students’ impressive projects, which included a weekly farmstand on campus and a partnership with Sodexo to provide fresh produce in the university’s dining halls.

Certificates were awarded by Susie Walsh Daloz, director; Laura Williams, program coordinator and farm manager; and Michael Meehan, assistant farm educator with the Farmer Training Program.

Williams noted that during the program, among other accomplishments, the students:

  • Planted 153 varieties of vegetables, flowers and herbs.
  • Met with 50+ farmers, agricultural specialists, professors and extension agents.
  • Generated $19, 980 in sales through the Farmer Training Program CSA, Farm Stand, and wholesale accounts.
  • Donated 4,535 pounds of food to the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf.

“It was an incredible six months. Though this cohort of students came to Vermont with a wide range of backgrounds and skill sets, they shared a common passion and commitment to immersing themselves in sustainable farming,” said Walsh Daloz. “The learning environment was dynamic and rich, and I have no doubt this group will stay deeply connected as they take their next steps in creating a resilient food system across the country. We celebrate them, their accomplishments, and the change we know they will inspire.”   

UVM Continuing Education is currently accepting applications for the 2013 Farmer Training Program, which will take place May 2-Oct. 31, 2013. Learn more at the Farmer Training Program Website, or email

The Farmer Training Program is a 6-month intensive, full-time program for aspiring farmers and food systems advocates. Participants leave with a Certificate in Sustainable Farming, a deeper understanding of agricultural management and small-scale farming, and the entrepreneurial skills to start their own operation.

About University of Vermont Continuing Education

Continuing Education (CE) helps thousands of non-traditional students continue their education at the University of Vermont. Through collaborations with the various colleges and schools, CE offers courses and programs to help students explore their options to advance or change their careers. Visit us online