On-Farm Workshops and Events

ian mitchell-innes pasture
          walkPasture walks are one of the very best ways for experienced or beginning farmers and agricultural service providers to learn from one another.  Each host farmer has tricks and tips for managing their own systems to its best advantage.  Often service providers, such as USDA-NRCS field agents or grazing consultants can add new information, review grazing or animal health concepts, share ideas gathered from outside sources, and learn along with everyone else.  Sometimes there are challenges on the farm, which visitors can help problem solve with a new perspective on the situation.  Pasture walks help connect all ages, interests and experience levels to one another. 

2014 Events Presented By (or Partnering With) VPN

April 24  2:00 - 3:00 pm
Webinar: On-Farm Slaughter in Vermont with Randy Quenneville, Vermont Agency of Ag Meat Inspection Chief
Link to recorded webinar.  (You may need to update your Java settings in order to play the Blackboard recording.)
VT Agency of Agriculture Processing Flow Chart (PDF)
One note: At about 46:25 into the recording, Randy answered a question about whether a farmer selling multiple animals to multiple buyers--who all made their own on-farm slaughter arrangements--can then transport the animals to a processing facility as a group?  After Randy's recorded response, he sent some additional clarification afterward, "...[the farmer would] have to have a signed certificate at the processor's in order for the custom processor to accept the carcasses… so the farmer would have to get blank certificates from the processor and have each owner sign them and then bring them with the carcasses."

June 12 5:00-8:00 pm

Upland Hay and Pasture Improvement at Tamarack Vermont Sheep Farm

Ben Machin, Grace Bowmer and Sayre Palmer manage a flock of over 200 Tunis and Dorset Horn ewes on the steep slopes of Orange County, using a combination of owned and leased land for grazing and hay production.  For the past four years, they have been focused on improving their hay and pasture land in order to accommodate more animal numbers with less purchased feed.  UVM Extension partners Dan Hudson and Jenn Colby will join the Tamarack crew to look at the results of wood ash, biosolids, and seeding clover on leased hay land, followed by a pasture walk at the home farm to see sheep and pasture management, assess the health of the landscape, check out the farm’s planned grazing chart, and share energy, soil and biological data collected during the CIG project’s initial year.

Data updates found here.

June 19 5:00-8:00 pm
Pasture Reclamation, Improvement, and Challenges at Spring-Rock Farm

Sheila Patinkin and the staff of Spring-Rock farm in Springfield, VT manage 120 Wagyu cows along with young stock. As the farm has grown, they have encountered challenges familiar to many New England farmers: sub-optimal land-base, wet fields, the need to reclaim/renovate fields that had fallen into agricultural disrepair, and questions about the most sustainable way to expand the business.
This will be an excellent opportunity to observe and/or discuss:
•    reclaiming pasture from reforested land, frost seeding, overseeding;
•    impacts of different pasture management: rotational grazing, managing wet fields;
•    a very rare breed of cattle and the marketing niche that they are serving; and
•    creative options for expanding a livestock operation when land is limited.

June 26 5:00-8:00 pm
Managing Pasture, Haylage, and Marketing of Holstein Beef at Snug Valley Farm
On the other side of the spectrum from Wagyu cattle, Holsteins are clearly the most common breed of cattle in Vermont, and bull calves are an inevitable byproduct of the dairy industry.  The Nottermans take this abundant local 'byproduct' and add value to it in a grass-fed system.  As with many Vermont farms maintaining an adequate pasture base is a challenge, and hybrid pasture/hay program is necessary to finish 30 steers per year.  In addition to grass-fed Holstein beef, Snug Valley Farm also produces pork, firewood, and pumpkins.  At this event we will focus on: September 10 2:30 - 6:30 pm
Producing Better Pork: Genetics and Management at Hogwash Farm
This event is co-organized by UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture and NOFA-VT as the first swine workshop funded by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets and the Working Lands Enterprise Board.

Understanding swine genetics and exercising skilled management can significantly improve pork yield and quality. Dr. Steven J. Moeller, Swine Extension Specialist at Ohio State University, will address breeding, housing, and animal health. We will tour Hogwash Farm's 25-pig operation with farmers Nancy LaRowe and Dave Yesman, highlighting specific challenges and choices they have made over the years. Finally, Howling Hog BBQ will demonstrate and discuss the merits of both grilling and barbecuing pork, followed by a savory tasting! The farm tour and workshop are scheduled for 2:30 - 5:00pm, with the cooking demo running from 5 - 6:30pm.

Register here through NOFA-VT.

September 13 2:00-5:00 pm
Late Season Grazing School at Bread & Butter Farm
Learn the fundamentals for setting up or improving your grazing system. Farmer Adam Wilson and NOFA-VT Farm Advisor Sarah Flack will discuss how to boost pasture productivity and quality through thoughtful management. We’ll cover identifying forage species and weeds, choosing the right stocking density and grazing method, fencing and watering systems, pasture design and layout, calculating dry matter intake, and more. Additional Pasture Program staff will be available as resource personnel.

Register here through NOFA-VT.

September 22 2:30-6:00 pm
Making It Work: Efficient Poultry Production and Processing at Maple Wind Farm
Maple Wind Farm is a diversified pasture-based farm raising and processing more than 8,000 certified organic and non-organic broiler chickens, 1200 laying hens, and 500 certified organic turkeys. We’ll tour the farm and new processing facility as we discuss their production system, equipment and infrastructure; challenges to profitable poultry management; and how to improve efficiency. The workshop will be followed by a cooking demo and tasting.

Register here through NOFA-VT.

Interested in attending an event?  Have event ideas or requests?
Contact Pasture Program Coordinator Jenn Colby