Tag Archives: cover crops

Fall Workshops for Farmers feature soil science and trades skills

 Learn how to think like a mechanic and a detective. Workshops include a hands-on component taking apart and examining the guts of broken equipment.
Learn how
to think like a mechanic and a detective. Workshops include a hands-on component taking apart and examining
the guts of broken equipment.

NOFA-VT is excited to partner with Vermont Tech to offer a special fall workshop series for farmers featuring soil science and trades skills. These two topics are widely different, yet both are critical foundations for successful production. As organic growers, we know that soil is the basis of everything we produce. And as commercial farmers, we also know that we spend a heck of a lot of time fixing, adjusting, installing and jerry-rigging equipment. Both soil building and mechanical know-how require ongoing education coupled with experience learned with the sweat of one’s brow through trial and error. You provide the latter, NOFA-VT will provide the former.

Thanks for your input…which guided the creation of this series! The recent Vermont state water quality initiatives, as well as flooding in recent years, has brought our attention to the negative impact on watersheds caused by farms of all sizes. A spring survey of commercial growers on soil fertility practices, conducted by the University of Vermont and the Vermont Vegetable Growers & Berry Association, was motivated by the collective need to reduce watershed pollution from nitrogen and phosphorus. The survey results illuminated an overall lack of satisfaction among growers with their soil fertility management, an interest in using more cover crops for nitrogen, a desire to work towards long term soil health through on-farm fertility production (like composting and cover cropping), and a need to save money on fertilizers while maximizing yields and balancing soil health.

Our two-part soils series will provide information to help make economical and environmentally sound decisions regarding fertilizer choices, application methods, increasing soil biological diversity, and more.

We are equally excited about our four workshops to improve your trades skills. Some farmers love spending time under the body of tractors or the hood of farm vehicles, others not as much. It takes time, inquisitiveness, patience and perseverance to learn how machines work, and to discover the right tool for the job. There’s of course no shame in hiring someone to do all the fixing and installing, but regardless it is critical to have a familiarity with engines, electrical systems, mechanical parts and such.

The trades skills workshops feature a hands-on component where you can practice what you are learning, for example in our “Tricks for Taking Apart & Fixing Rusted Stuff,” get experience using heat, saws, leverage and key tools you’ll want to run out to buy. Do you know what’s a bearing puller, torch crayon, nut splitter or Woodruff key? Come find out. And for those of you who already have loads of experience, you know as well as anyone that it takes a lifetime of learning, and the opportunity to improve your knowledge with an expert is worth every minute invested.

Workshop descriptions »
Online registration »
Download the brochure (pdf) »

Build Your Flood Resilience at Our Summer Workshops

Flood damage from Irene, Middlebury VT, 2011.

You rebuilt after Irene. Your pastures grow lush and green, despite the sand that smothered them after the floods. Your new chicken tractors are lighter than the ones that the current toppled and twisted. Your sales are looking good.

But sometimes you wonder: Is rebuilding the same farm system really the answer? You know that more intense rain – more frequent rain – is part of the new normal of climate change. What could you do to make your farm more adaptable, more resilient to increased flooding?

In an effort to help farmers answer these questions, NOFA-VT is partnering with conservationist groups and UVM Extension. Together, we’re offering two Summer Workshops about concrete ways you can build your flood resilience.

Both events focus on strategies Vermont farmers like you are using to deal with increased flooding. At each workshop, we aim to give farmers a chance to talk together about what’s working (and what’s not) on your farms. There will be an opportunity to talk about how farmers are funding and getting their resiliency projects implemented. We’ll also take time to think about what next steps we can take to be Vermont strong in building our resilience to flooding.


Cover Crops to Cope with the Effects of Flooding on Soil Fertility

Where: Intervale Center, Burlington, VT
When: September 17, 4-7pm (rain or shine!)
Cost: $10 NOFA Members; $20 nonmembers
For more information: (802) 434-4122, lynda@nofavt.org
Please click here to register!

Winter Rye cover crop germinating at Adam’s Berry Farm. (Photo by Lindsey Ruhl)

You know cover crops are good for soil fertility – but did you also know they can be a critical and practical tool for flood resiliency?

As the effects of this summers’ early season flooding lingers in the fields, come learn about strategies to mitigate the long term impacts of soil saturation. Lindsey Ruhl, Master’s Candidate in Plant and Soil Sciences at UVM, will take participants into the field to look her research sites and experimental cover crop plots in the Intervale. She will present on cover crops that have demonstrated ability to alleviate specific effects of soil degradation associated with flooding such as fertility loss, compaction, and mycorrhizae colonization. You can see the progress of Lindsey’s research on her Flooded Soils blog. This event will be part field tour and part discussion over light refreshments and snacks.

Riparian Buffers for Farmland Flood Resilience

Where: Intervale Center, Burlington, VT
When: September 24, 2-6pm (rain or shine!)
Cost: Free
For more information: (802) 434-4122, lynda@nofavt.org
Please click here to register!

Streamside buffers can protect crops and improve water quality.
Streamside buffers can protect crops and improve water quality. Image courtesy Liz Brownlee.

Do you farm along a waterway? Are you involved with conservation projects in your community? Join us for a field day to learn how to build farmland flood resilience.

This NOFA-VT field day show will showcase a tried and true tool for dealing with flooding on farms: the planting of streamside buffers. Planting trees along streams and rivers can absorb floodwaters, protect soils, and keep drinking water clean. Learn how buffers work, what plant species work for buffers and where to find them, and what programs can fund plantings on your farm or in your community. Hear from two farmers about their experience with planting buffers. Explore a mature buffer planting at the Intervale on a walk into the field with staff from the Intervale Conservation Nursery and tour their nursery as they take your questions about native tree plantings.

This is unique opportunity to talk with farmers, conservationists, and researchers about the challenges and opportunities for building more resilient Vermont farms.

The Summer Workshop Series continues through mid-October; click here to see all upcoming workshops!

[Blog post by Liz Brownlee, Lindsey Ruhl, and Lynda Prim]