The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA Vermont), in partnership with Vermont Technical College’s Institute for Applied Agriculture and Food Systems (Vermont Tech), is launching a new fall workshop series for farmers with a dual focus on soil science and trades skills. These two topics are widely different, yet both are critical foundations for successful production.

“Organic growers know that soil is the basis of everything they produce,” explains workshop organizer Mimi Arnstein. “And all commercial farmers spend a heck of a lot of time fixing, adjusting, installing and jerry-rigging equipment.” Since both topics require ongoing education—coupled with experience learned through trial and error—NOFA Vermont and Vermont Tech have developed this in-depth workshop series for farmers that addresses soil building and mechanical know-how.

The recent Vermont state water quality initiatives, as well as flooding in recent years, has highlighted the negative impact on watersheds caused by farms of all sizes. In a spring 2015 survey of commercial growers on soil fertility practices conducted by the University of Vermont and the Vermont Vegetable Growers & Berry Association, farmers expressed an overall lack of satisfaction with their soil fertility management. Our two-part soils series, with “Part 1: Soil Nutrient Management” on October 8, and “Part 2: Supporting Biologically Active Soils” on October 28 will provide information to help make economical and environmentally sound decisions regarding fertilizer choices, application methods, increasing soil biological diversity, and more.

The four trades skills workshops, starting on October 14 with “Getting Intimate with Diesel Engines” feature a hands-on component where participants can practice each skill taught. For example, in “Tricks for Taking Apart & Fixing Rusted Stuff” on November 19, participants will gain experience using heat, saws, leverage and key tools. They will learn when and why to use a bearing puller, torch crayon, nut splitter or Woodruff key. The other two skills workshops are “Gas Fueled Machines: Tractors, Pumps & Friends” on November 5th and “Why Doesn’t This Thing Turn On? Dealing with Electrical Problems” on November 12. Even for farmers with years of experience, this is an excellent opportunity to gain further knowledge from an expert in the field.

Walk-ins are welcome the day of the workshop; however, preregistration is required for discounts and to guarantee lunch. All workshops will be held at Vermont Technical College in Randolph, Vermont.

For any questions regarding the workshop content or registration process, contact Rachel Fussell, NOFA-VT’s Education Coordinator, at rachel@nofavt.org or (802) 434-4122 x28.