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Are you a new or beginning farmer or an aspiring farmer? The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) is here to help. We may not have an answer to all of your questions, but we will do our best to point you in the right direction.
VAAFM has compiled this list of potential resources as a public bulletin board to share contacts and information. Please note this available resource list is not a list of endorsements or recommendations from VAAFM and should not be seen as such. VAAFM makes no representations about any listed resource, has not made value judgments, has not intentionally excluded any resource, and no negative inference should be drawn about any entity because it is not listed. Anyone electing to use any listed resource should perform their own due diligence.
We are doing our best to be comprehensive and to keep this page updated, but this list is still likely incomplete or out of date.
This page is currently under development. To offer feedback about this page or suggest a resource, please fill out this very short survey.
Find other compilations of Vermont-based resources for new farmers at these sites: Farmer Resources — Rural Vermont; Beginning Farmer Resource Hub - UVM; Farmer Resources – Vital Communities; Resource Directory - FarmFirst
- Assessing Land-Based Environmental Risk Factsheet: Although designed for hemp producers, this sheet contains useful information for anyone choosing land to farm.
- The Vermont Land Trust and Intervale Center Provides a flow chart to show the steps for farmland purchases.
- Farmland Access Program (802) 861-6555: Vermont Land Trust helps new farmers find land that has been conserved by retiring farmers, and will assist provider and recipient with the land transfer.
- Vermont Land Link (802) 660-0440 x116: The ‘Find a Farm’ tool shows farms posted for sale, lease, or other tenure arrangements.
- Agrarian Commons (833) 99FARMS: Supports land access for the next generation of farmers.
- Land For Good (603) 357-1600: Provides caring support and expert guidance to help farmers, landowners and communities navigate land access, tenure, and transfer.
- Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust: Advances land sovereignty and secures land tenure for Indigenous, Black, Latinx, and Asian farmers and land stewards.
- Everytown Project: Aims to place at least one parcel of land in every town in Vermont permanently in trust for stewardship and access for Black, Indigenous, and all People of Color (BIPOC).
- Farmland Access Legal Toolkit: This Vermont Law School project helps farmers and landowners affordably access, transfer, and conserve farmland.
- Financing for Farmland Access Team (802) 828-5669: A Vermont Farm to Plate stakeholder team focused on issues related to cost, accessibility and equity in relation to farmland in Vermont.
Business Planning & Advising
- Business Planning & Technical Assistance – Lists state and national partners that offer various business advising
- Business Development Directory - Allows a business to search for a service provider that meets the businesses needs
- UVM New Farmer Project (802) 476-2003: Connects farmers with online and on-the-ground resources to help start and grow their farm businesses
- USDA New Farmers (802)-658-2803: Vermont’s Beginning Farm Coordinator helps new farmers access business resources.
- Farm Viability Program (802) 828-1098: Vermont Housing and Conservation Board provides business advising and networking for farmers and agriculturally-related businesses
- Regional Development Corporations (802) 585-8225: These Satellite offices of Department of Economic Development provide local knowledge and facilitate assistance
- Vermont Small Business Development Center (802) 728-9101: Provides expertise and advising to business owners
- UVM Extension Agriculture Business Programs (802) 476-2003: Provides one-to-one, small group and online learning opportunities that enhance decision-making and viability
- Intervale Beginning Farmers Program (802) 660-0440 x116: Provides information, assistance, and encouragement to beginning and aspiring farmers in the state of Vermont through one-on-one coaching and business planning.
- Center for an Agricultural Economy - Provides advising to farms and food businesses at all stages of development.
New Farmer Courses
- UVM Extension (802) 476-2003 - Provides classes and courses for beginning and aspiring farmers
- UVM Farmer Training Program - Runs a six-month hands-on farming course
- NOFA-VT (802) 434-4122 - Provides advising to certified organic, transitioning to organic, and non-certified farmers using sustainable practices at all stages of business development
- NOFA-VT Journey Farmer Program (804) 434-7154 - Runs a one-year program for beginning farmers who are in the first few years of operating their own farm business in Vermont
- Farm Services Administration (802) 658-2803: Registering with FSA allows farms to be eligible for many federal program benefits including low-interest loans, commodity price supports, disaster relief, and conservation grants.
- Vermont Secretary of State (802) 828-2386: Has developed a step-by-step guide for registering your business and recommends contacting an accountant or attorney for questions about what type of business you should choose when registering.
- Vermont Department of Taxes (802) 828-2505: Has developed a step-by-step outline of what is required to start or buy a business. The Current Use division additionally provides information on how agricultural purchases and agricultural purchases may qualify for tax reductions or exemptions.
- Vermont Legal Food Hub - Connects farmers, food entrepreneurs, and food system organizations with free legal services.
- Farm Commons: Farm Business Entity Flowchart - Provides farmers with tools to help choose the best business entity for their farm operation
Product-Specific Resources and Regulations
- Bees & Honey (802) 272-6688: Apiary Program supports the Vermont beekeeping industry through education, outreach, and promotion, with a focus on honeybee disease and pest mitigation.
- Dairy (802) 828-2433: Dairy staff provide inspection services and answer questions from farmers and processors to help ensure minimum sanitation standards are met in their production practices.
- Eggs (802) 622-4412: These products are inspected for proper labeling and to determine the quality of the product. FLAG - No link?
- Fruits and Vegetables (802) 461-5128: The Vermont Produce Program works with fruit and vegetable farms to enhance produce safety and promote public health. Potatoes, apples, and strawberries have additional grading and labeling requirements.
- Hemp - (802) 505-3726: As of December 31, 2022, you will need to register with USDA to cultivate hemp in compliance with federal law. FLAG- Cannabis control board reference here too? Or link to USDA?
- Maple (802) 828-2433: Program staff can help with information for producers and packers with regulatory requirements that must meet quality, food safety, and labeling for pure maple syrup and other maple products.
- Meat (802) 828-2426: Meat Inspection staff provide inspection services for meat and poultry slaughter operations, simple processing for ground products and individual cuts, complex processing for products such as ham, bacon, summer sausage, and Jerky products, and much more.
- Seeds, Nursery Plants, Christmas Trees, and Ginseng (802) 505-0217: The Plant Health program provides inspection services for these products and can assist producers to understand the product-specific requirements.
- VAAFM Licensing Library (802) 828-2436: This library helps producers find and apply for the required licenses and registrations for bringing their products to market.
- Regulations For Products Commonly Sold in Vermont Farmers Markets (802) 636-7793: The Agency regulates many of the foods sold or distributed at farmers markets, including red meat and poultry products, raw milk and processed dairy products, eggs, maple products, potatoes, apples and strawberries as well as the small scales many vendors use.
- Adult-Use and Medical Cannabis (802) 828-1010: The Cannabis Control Board provides information to implement and administer the laws enabling adult use and medical use of cannabis in Vermont safely, equitably, and effectively.
- Food processing and value-added food products (802) 863-7221: Vermont Department of Health Food and Lodging Program offers guidance for preparing or selling value-added food products.
Selling Your Products
- Farmers Market Regulations
- Weights and Measures: Retail Scales used in farmers markets, farm stands, and retail stores must be properly calibrated
- Consumer packages must be properly labeled (Labeling Requirements) and comply with all Vermont and Federal requirements.
- Wholesale and distribution: So You Want to Distribute? Examining the basics of distribution in Vermont.; Distribution Options Financial Decision Making Tool
- Agritourism and On-Farm Experiences: Accessory On-Farm Businesses
- NOFA-VT (802) 434-4122): Provides resources for farmers to improve their direct marketing practices.
- Center for Agriculture & Food Systems has a Farmers Market Legal Toolkit for specific legal recommendations for selling at a farmer’s market.
- Wholesale and distribution: NOFA-VT Local Food Wholesale Market Assessment
- Agritourism and On-Farm Experiences: UVM Extension: Is Agritourism Right For You?
Regulations, Permits, and Construction on Farms
- Licensing and Registration may be necessary for some activities on farms, such as pesticide application or the sale of nursery plants.
- Pesticide Applicator Training and Certification: Individuals who will apply pesticides must meet mandatory registration requirements.
- The Building Farm Structures factsheet shares steps needed when planning Construction. Zoning, permits, and regulations on construction can vary from town to town. Be sure to reach out to local zoning administrator and town officials as early as possible when planning construction on your farm to ensure you are aware of all town regulations for your specific business. If requested by your town, fill out a farm determination form.
- Act 250 regulates some types of farm activity and construction on farms.
- Agency of Natural Resources – Permit Navigator Tool: Many additional environmental permits may apply to agricultural businesses, particularly construction of buildings. ANR DEC community assistance specialists can help you identify if any additional environmental permits might be necessary for your project.
- Agency of Agriculture Water Quality Division (802-828-2431): Assists producers to comply with the Required Agricultural Practices, which require all Vermont farms to manage land and manure to avoid nutrient runoff and to follow specific water quality regulations.
- Surface Water Withdrawals (802-272-0323) Farmers who withdraw surface water for irrigation or other purposes are required to report the volume withdrawn annually.
- UVM Extension: Assists with everything from agronomic expertise to business planning to meeting farm-related regulations.
- Natural Resource Conservation Districts: Can help you understand State and Federal regulations and to implement changes as needed.
Grants and Loans
- Plan for upcoming VAAFM grant deadlines using the funding opportunity calendar. Most grants are designed for established farm businesses, so it may be hard to have a competitive grant application when your business is in its very early stages. Early-stage businesses might first wish to consider various loan programs and business planning support.
- 2022 Guide to Assistance For Agricultural Producers of Vermont - This guide was developed by the Franklin County Natural Resource Conservation District to help connect farmers to statewide financial and technical assistance opportunities.
- Farm Services Administration: Provides financial assistance to help farmers start a farm, expand their operation, improve natural resources or recover from natural disasters. Loans Guidebook explains how programs can be accessed by small-scale, diversified farmers, including those who are growing organically, farming in urban environments, marketing through CSAs, or exploring non-traditional growing practices like aquaponics or rooftop agriculture.
- Natural Resource Conservation Service (802) 951-6796: Administers grants and provides advice to help agricultural producers make and maintain conservation improvements on their land.
- Farm to Plate Food System Financing Inventory: Inventories a list of funding providers who support farm and food businesses.
- Rural Economic Development Initiative (802) 828-1098: Offers grant writing assistance to rural communities and small businesses interested in applying for federal funds and other funding sources
- American Farmland Trust Micro Grant (413) 586-9330: Provides grants of up to $5000 to support farmer’s needs.
Agronomy and Farming Practices
- University of Vermont Extension (802) 476-2003: Has expertise in agricultural production, grazing, processing, marketing, business planning, and more, and can help you for free.
- Natural Resources Conservation Districts: Provide agricultural producers with free technical, financial, and educational assistance for working with state and federal programs
- Natural Resource Conservation Service: Provides free services to help agricultural producers figure out how to make and maintain conservation improvements on their land.
- VT Invasives: Provides assistance with species identification and development of management plans for invasive species in both terrestrial and forested landscapes.
- A variety of private agricultural consultancy groups operate in the state of Vermont, including Bourdeau Brothers (nutrient, feed and crop management), Agricultural Consulting Services (nutrient and crop management), Scott Magnan’s Custom Service (precision agriculture and nutrient and crop management), and Sarah Flack (for grazing).
- Food Systems Skills Training (800) 442-8821: This Vermont Technical College course trains attendees in integrated pest management, butchery, organic regulation training for livestock and crops.
Health and Wellness
- Farm First: Provides free services to farmers who are struggling with stress/mental health issues. They are also creating a peer support network.
- Northeast Queer Farmers Alliance (email Ike at firstname.lastname@example.org): Organizes a listserv and mutual aid group for people who identify as LGBTQ+ and who have a connection with agriculture.
- Vermont Health Connect: Helps Vermonters access health care.
- Vermont Farm Bureau: Offers health insurance benefits to member farms.
- The Department of Children and Families: Provides assistance to families through a variety of programs, including Child Care Financial Assistance, 3SquaresVT, Utilities Support, and more.
- Agribility: Provides training, employment and financial support resources for Veterans.
- Agrisafe Learning Lab: Has mental and physical health resources for veteran farmers including webinars, handouts, and more.
- Beginner Farmers Org: Has a training page for beginner famers that is specifically designed for military veterans.
- Homegrown by Heroes (802)-380-1014: Helps veterans become farmers and food leaders by providing educational resources, career services, financial support, and technical assistance.
- Veterans to Farmers: Provides trainings to veterans in agricultural systems, technologies, and business operations.
Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) Farmers
- Vermont ReLeaf Collective: This Vermont-based membership network supports Black, Indigenous, and People of Color who are passionate about land, environment, agriculture, and foodways.
- Everytown Project: Aims to place at least one parcel of land in every town in Vermont permanently in trust for stewardship and access for BIPOC.
- Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust: Advances land sovereignty and secures land tenure for Indigenous, Black, Latinx, and Asian farmers and land stewards
- Soul Fire Farm: This BIPOC-centered farm in New York is committed to ending racism and injustice in the food system.
- SUSU commUNITY Farm: This stewarded and educational farm maintains land geared towards serving BIPOC.
- VT Farm to Plate: Has compiled of resources for racial justice and equity within the Vermont and greater food system.
- Vermont Food System Plan Issue Brief: Racial Equity in the Vermont Food System: Provides opportunities and recommendations for working towards racial equity in Vermont agriculture and food systems.
Farmers with Disabilities
- Agribility: Provides a wide range of resources for disabled farmers.
- Disability Rights Vermont: Provides advocacy and legal support for Vermonters with disabilities.
- Division of Vocational Rehabilitation: Works with Vermonters with disabilities that affect their ability to gain or retain employment.
- Women’s Agricultural Network: Offers educational, technical assistance, and networking opportunities, including a coaching program for women farmers and food system workers.
- Agrisafe: Has a page dedicated to providing resources for women farmers and their health and safety on and off the farm.
- Center for Women and Enterprise: Provides business training for women, including targeted programs for women-owned agriculture and forestry businesses
- Cultivating Change Foundation: Provides resources for LGBTQ+ agriculturalists through advocacy, education, and community.
- Northeast Queer Farmers Alliance (email Ike at email@example.com): This listserv and mutual aid group supports people who identify as LGBTQ+ and who have a connection with agriculture.
- Out In The Open: Connects rural LGBTQ people in Vermont.
- Queer Farmers Network: Hosts several resources for queer farmers in the United States.
- Queer Farmers Collective: Has an email list to stay up to date on events, skill shares, and additional content.
- New Farms for New Americans: Is a community-based gardening and agriculture program from AALV that supports refugees and immigrants in Vermont.
Get Connected and Stay Updated
- Agriview - 802-828-1619 - The Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets releases a monthly newsletter that is free for anyone to receive online, and free for farmers to receive in the mail. Agriview provides information about workshops and trainings, financial & technical assistance, new and changing regulations, local ag market reports, agriculture-specific classified advertisements, and more.
- VAAFM’s Agriculture Development Newsletter – (802) 636-7793 - Sign up for this weekly email newsletter to stay up to date on funding opportunities, events, and business assistance programs.
- VAAFM's Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center Newsletter - Sign up for updates about events, opportunities, and projects related to the Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center.
- VAAFM’s Field Notes Newsletter - A quarterly email newsletter from the Food Safety, Consumer Protection (FSCP) Division of the Agency of Agriculture.
- New Farmer Project Email List (802) 476-2003: Connects farmers with online and on-the-ground resources to help start and grow a farm business.
- Vermont Department of Economic Development Newsletter: Sign up to receive information on programs and resources from the Department of Economic Development.
- Producer Associations - State and national associations for different agricultural products and services. Many associations offer an email listserv to help members communicate and share information.
- Vermont Young Farmers Coalition - firstname.lastname@example.org Serves young and beginning farmers that come from all areas of Vermont agriculture.
- Vermont ReLeaf Collective - A Vermont-based membership network for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color who are passionate about land, environment, agriculture, and foodways.
- Local farmer watershed groups, such as the Connecticut River Watershed Farmers Alliance, Franklin and Grand Isle Farmers Watershed Alliance, and the Champlain Valley Farmers Coalition are peer farmer networks with many members who are willing to share their farming knowledge.