This section of the New Farmer Project website contains articles, fact sheets and other resources that will help you build your production skills and know-how.
Agritourism Safety Manual (PDF): Agritourism enterprises offer farmers opportunities to diversify and increase their income. Opening the farm to these new opportunities, however, also introduces new risks and legal obligations. This manual outlines guidelines, resources and tools for protecting the safety, health and well being of individuals visiting farms, as well as the farm owners and farm animals that are impacted by agritourism. Published by the Northeast Kingdom Travel and Tourism Association, this guide has been created to assist farm owners in the evaluation of their operation in preparation to safely host agritourists.
UVM Extension and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture's VT Farm Safety Project created a series of checklist you can use to help keep everyone safe on your farm.
• Crop Feed Storage Safety Check List (PDF)
• Farm Building Safety Checklist (PDF)
• General Farm Safety Checklist (PDF)
• Livestock Facilities Safety Checklist (PDF)
• Protective Equipment Checklist (PDF)
• Protect Yourself from the Sun (PDF)
• Working Outdoors in Cold Weather (PDF)
• Be Wary of Skid-Steer Loaders (PDF)
• Protect Your Hearing on the Job (PDF)
• Know the Dangers of a PTO (PDF)
• Proper Lifting to Prevent Back Injuries (PDF)
Farm Emergency Phone Numbers Template: Use this handy template to create a list of all the important numbers you want to have on hand in case of a farm emergency. Print, fill out and hang by your phone in your farmstand, barn and/or house. Download the PDF of the Farm Emergency Phone Number Template or Microsoft Word version.
The “Safety and Operation” pages of UVM Extension Tractor Resource Hub provide information on tractor and equipment safety geared to beginning farmers. You can also find information and resources related to basic tractor use, operation and maintenance, tractor purchase decision-making, and farm mechanization strategies at the hub.
Forages & Grains
Top Ten Factors to Consider Before Growing Grains (PDF): This UVM Extension fact sheet covers key factors to building a successful grain enterprise.
Identification Guide for Forage Legumes Grown in the Northeast (PDF)
Identification Guide for Forage Grasses Grown in the Northeast (PDF)
Renovating an Old Hayfield Video Series: UVM Extension agronomists discuss the ins and outs of managing a Vermont hayfield for productivity, clean water and healthy soil. This 2020 series includes three 30-minute videos.
Cereal Grain and Dry Beans section of the UVM Extension Northwest Crops and Soils Team pages offer a variety of resources related to growing more nutritious livestock feed and to produce grains and beans for human consumption.
The Livestock Forages section of the UVM Extension Northwest Crops and Soils Team pages offer a variety of resources related to growing annual and perennial forage crops.
Choosing Forage Crops for Fall Seeding (2010) Late summer is a good time to consider a new seeding for pastures or haycrops, provided there is adequate soil moisture. Sid Bosworth, University of Vermont Extension agronomist, reviews the many species and mixture options for a new seeding, discuss site preparation and post seeding management. Sid has taught courses in forage crops, turf management and weed ecology and has conducted applied research in the areas of alfalfa management, nutrient and manure management of cool season grasses and corn for silage, weed control, pasture management, forage quality and organic wheat production. His extension programs focus on crop and pasture management and utilization, integrated crop management and grasses for biomass energy.
The University of Vermont Extension Champlain Valley Crop, Soil and Pasture Team provides information and technical assistance to Vermont Farmers in the Lake Champlain Watershed. The team shares research-based knowledge that has practical applications on your farm, and address many production-related issues associated with water quality and farm profitability.
The University of Vermont Extension Northwest Crops and Soils Program provides cropping information related to small grains, dry beans, oilseeds, hops, hemp, milkweed, forages and industrial hemp. You’ll find research reports and experiential information presented in practical, farmer-oriented ways.
Livestock Production & Grazing
Beef & Pork Whole Animal Buying Guide: While promoted as a buying guide, this is a great reference for any farmer new to selling beef and pork by sides or retail cuts. Great pictures and definitions of terms related to cuts and quality. Available as a free download, but you can also buy a laminated copy for a small fee.
Grazing Basics for Beginners (PDF): This two-page fact sheet provides an overview of management-intensive grazing. It covers animals' forage requirements, paddock size, and strategies for determining how frequently to move animals.
Guide to Managing Somatic Cell Counts in Cows (PDF): This publication provides proper milk testing and sanitation procedures to maximize milk quality and safety.
Guide to Managing Somatic Cell Counts in Sheep (PDF): This publication provides proper milk testing and sanitation procedures to maximize milk quality and safety.
Guide to Managing Somatic Cell Counts in Goats (PDF): This publication provides proper milk testing and sanitation procedures to maximize milk quality and safety.
Guide to Starting A Commercial Goat Dairy (PDF, 2012): Turning a passion into a viable business is a line-in-the-sand decision, and this book by Carol Delaney covers what farmers should consider when planning a goat dairy startup. It also fills a gap—there are many periodicals and books with information about cow dairying, and this adds some needed weight on the small ruminant side of the scale.
Fencing Follies: Common Mistakes and Fencing Options for Diversified Livestock Operations (2012): Colin Kennard from Wellscroft Fence Systems addresses many electric fence options suitable for livestock inclusion as well as predator exclusion specifically addressing the climate and terrain of the northeast United States. Learn about types of conductors including high-tensile steel, aluminum, rope, tape, polywire, and netting used in permanent, semi-permanent, and temporary situations. The webinar covers the most common mistakes and problems encountered with electric fences and how to avoid or resolve them. Between his work and having grown up on a working farm, Colin's experience has given him great insight on how animals interact and respect - or don't respect fences. His experience with agricultural fencing products continues to evolve along with innovations in the industry. He is passionate about giving people the knowledge and tools to allow their agriculture, from small backyard gardens to large commercial livestock farms, to thrive.
Fencing for Multi-Species Grazing (May 2013): Colin Kennard's experience has given him great insight on how animals interact and respect - or don't respect fences. A second generation Wellscroft Fencing retailer and livestock farmer, his experience with agricultural fencing products continues to evolve along with innovations in the industry. He is passionate about giving people the knowledge and tools to allow their agriculture, from small backyard gardens to large commercial livestock farms, to thrive. Join this webinar to learn from an expert.
Grazing Basics Webinar Recording: Rachel Gilker and Jenn Colby of the UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture's Pasture Program discussed rotational grazing fundamentals for success, including soil testing, plant growth, grazing infrastructure, animal behavior and calculating pasture forage for your animals.
Ideas for Enhancing Sheep Production: Learn about designing sheep production systems to match animals to resources to markets. Joe Emenheiser discusses breeds, breeding programs, nutrition/health, reproduction, and product quality (meat and wool). Raised on a small family farm in Pennsylvania, Joe’s experience with livestock includes managing sheep farms in New York, butchering, genetic evaluation, teaching, and judging.
Practical Poultry Production (2010): If you're thinking of adding chickens to your farming operations for eggs or meat, join Michael Darre, Professor & Extension Poultry Specialist, at the University of Connecticut, for an intro to all things chicken. Topics covered will include: Choosing the right type, breed and numbers; Housing and environmental concerns for small flocks; Health and disease management of small flocks; and General concepts of nutrition and feeding.
Principles of Pastured Pork: Bruce Hennessey, with his partner, Beth Whiting operate Maple Wind Farm, a pasture-based diversified livestock, vegetable and maple syrup farm in Huntington, VT. The farm produces grass fed beef & lamb, pasture-raised broilers,eggs and organic turkeys, vegetables and maple syrup. As lifelong educators and environmentalists, Bruce and Beth are interested in helping people to learn about sustainable production methods. This webinar will focus on raising hogs in an intensive pasture management program. Bruce will present on general principles of pastured raised hogs, including breeds, supplemental feed, fencing and water systems, farrowing and swine health. This introductory presentation will cover the basics of pasturing hogs and help new farmers get started off right.
University of Vermont Extension Center For Sustainable Agriculture’s Pasture and Livestock website contains information for beginning farmers who are seeking to get started with grass-based farming practices, and experienced farmers looking to convert to or improve their grass-based operations. The site includes tools, information and recommendations to help establish and grow successful grazing systems. Be sure to scroll down to the section that provides species-specific information to find information specific to dairy cattle, swine, beef cattle, sheep, goats, and horses.
Intro to Common Insect Pests and Their Management on the Vermont Vegetable Farm (2012).
Learn how to recognize common Vermont insect pests of vegetables and local natural enemies with UVM Extension Entomologist Margaret Skinner. Skinner combines research on biological control with outreach to growers and the public on IPM (integrated pest management) education and awareness for many key insect pests of the Northeast. Several worksheets are referenced in the presentation and are useful in creating an effective strategy for managing pests on the farm. They are available as a PDF Version, and an editable Microsoft Word version. The UVM Plant Diagnostic Clinic aids Vermont greenhouses, farms and orchards by assisting in the identification and control of pests and diseases. The site provides information on pest and disease identification and management, and includes forms and directions for submitting samples to the laboratory for analysis.
Basic Soil Health and Soil Testing (2010). Healthy soils are the cornerstone of a productive and sustainable farm. Heather Darby, UVM Extension Agronomist and Soil Specialist, discusses the fundamentals of managing soils to promote crop productivity while protecting the environment.
Cold Storage Options For Beginning Produce Farmers (2013). Vermont's food systems have experienced increased localization, value addition, diversification, extension of growing season and increased market demand. Growers are now seeing enhanced value in storing and marketing their produce year-round. Crop storage can be costly and the construction and operation of an efficient and well-designed system is essential to a farm's profitability in winter and early spring markets. Chris Callahan, UVM Extension Ag Engineer discusses the biological processes of crops in storage, storage characteristics of various crops, and sizing and design considerations of storage systems. The presentation will include the basics of heating and refrigeration and construction for utility and efficiency (including manufactured boxes, DIY construction, and CoolBots. The webinar was tailored for new and aspiring farmers.
Specialty Crop Guides
Elderberry Production in Vermont. Visit the UVM Extension Center for Sustainable Agriculture’s Elderberry webpage to find the Growing Elderberries production manual, an Elderbery Financial Decision Support tool and links to horticultural information, workshop procedings and videos.
Shiitake Mushrooms as a Farm/Forest Enterprise. Visit the UVM Extension Center for Sustainable Agriculture’s webpage to find research-based production guide for Shiitake production.
The UVM Plant Diagnostic Clinic aids Vermont greenhouses, farms and orchards by assisting in the identification and control of pests and diseases. The site provides information on pest and disease identification and management, and includes forms and directions for submitting samples to the laboratory for analysis.
UVM Extension Vermont Vegetable and Berry Grower Pages are chock full of resources for berry and vegetable growers, this site offers information and educational materials about all aspects of produce production and marketing.
Cold Storage Options For Beginning Produce Farmers (October 2013): Vermont's food systems have experienced increased localization, value addition, diversification, extension of growing season and increased market demand. Growers are now seeing enhanced value in storing and marketing their produce year-round. Crop storage can be costly and the construction and operation of an efficient and well-designed system is essential to a farm's profitability in winter and early spring markets. Chris Callahan, UVM Extension Ag Engineer will present on biological processes of crops in storage, storage characteristics of various crops, and sizing and design considerations of storage systems. The presentation will include the basics of heating and refrigeration and construction for utility and efficiency (including manufactured boxes, DIY construction, and CoolBots. The webinar is tailored for new and aspiring farmers. Download the Cold Storage Options for Beginning Produce farmers presentation slides.
The UVM Ag Engineering Podcast offers “short format” episodes, usually interviewing Vermont farmers, who share tools, tips and techniques that they are using to improve the sustainability their farms.
UVM Extension's Agricultural Engineering Program works to deliver practical, cost-effective, safe and sustainable equipment and infrastructure approaches for Vermont's small-scale farmers and food processors. The UVM Extension AgEngineering Blog, which provides information on cooling systems, energy, equipment, food safety, heating, and other infrastructure topics. You'll also find an extensive set of links to calculators and other tools to help determine energy requirements and sizing for food coolers, dryers and storage for farm products.
Energy Information for Vegetable and Berry Growers. This webpage provides links to a wide variety of resources and case studies regarding energy use, conservation and production on vegetable farms.
The UVM Extension Tractor Resource Hub provides information on to help beginning farmers with equipment purchasing decisions as well as guides to maintaining tractors. The “Running the Numbers” section explains how you can use partial budgeting to forecast the financial impacts on both the cost and income side of specific machine purchases. You can also find information and resources related to basic tractor use, operation and safety at the hub.
Supplies and Equipment for Vegetable and Berry Growers. This webpage includes links to a variety of suppliers, including tillage and cultivating equipment and tractors, building and equipment design plans, wash house and packing line equipment, fencing systems, and more.
Historic Barn Preservation Grants: Vermont’s Barn Preservation Grant program helps individuals, municipalities, and non-profit organizations to rehabilitate historic agricultural buildings that are a symbol of Vermont’s rural landscape. Since its inception in 1992, the program has provided over $3 million towards the preservation of over 360 historic barns and agricultural outbuldings around the state. The program holds an annual application process, and applications for the 2021 grants are due Monday, Nov. 2, 2020.