June 26-30, 2017
Faculty: Gwyneth Harris & Jenn Colby; featuring Sarah Flack & Judith D. Schwartz
Livestock, humans, and grasslands have co-evolved for more than 10,000 years. Modern farming techniques can capitalize on this relationship to feed our livestock, restore our landscapes, sequester carbon in our soils, and create ecologically sound, humane, and profitable farming systems. Join Sterling Farm Manager Gwyneth Harris and the UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture’s Jenn Colby to explore grazing systems and techniques. Together, we will look at the ecology of grasslands, savannahs, and woodlands, and the place of livestock animals in their development and maintenance. We will also study pasture soil management, with an emphasis on nutrient cycling, soil life, and fertility. Next, we will look at how farms can mimic natural patterns to develop effective on-farm grazing systems. To this end, the class includes a master class session, Developing the Graziers Toolbox, with independent grazing consultant and author Sarah Flack. We will focus on pasture soil management, measuring and maintaining biodiversity in your pastures; matching animal numbers and types to grazed and browsed landscapes; varying grazing impact to match the needs of the season and your herd/flock; and discuss non-ruminant livestock on the grazing landscape. We will also take a wide-angle look at the roles that grazing systems can play in global environmental change with Judith Schwartz.
Prerequisites: This course is targeted toward beginning graziers, and folks who want to brush up on their technical skills or adapt their grazing system to a more regenerative model. We will cover forage plant ID, types of grasses and how they grow, incorporating different types of livestock, and grazing planning and rationing tools.
Tuition & Fees: $1250 covers the cost of the instruction, field trips, most course materials, three meals per day from our top-ranked Sterling Kitchen, and ground transportation between class locations. Not included are airport transfers or accommodations; please let us know if we can assist you with finding or providing these.
Housing Availability & Fees: On-campus housing is available for an additional fee of $60 per night with a private bathroom and $50 per night with shared bathroom access. Please note that Sterling College offers rustic, dormitory-style housing that is clean and safe but not luxurious. Availability is limited and room requests are filled on a rolling, first-come, first-served basis. Please visit our accommodations page for more options.
Need more details before you can register? Let us know!
Jenn Colby is the Program Coordinator for the Pasture Program at the UVM (Extension) Center for Sustainable Agriculture. She has a B.S. in Animal Science and M.S. in Community Development and Applied Economics, both from the University of Vermont. Jenn coordinates conference and workshops, provides staff support to the VT Grass Farmers Association, manages multi-media outreach, and coordinates pasture and livestock-based educational activities, research, and technical assistance around the state. Outside of official Extension work, she operates a diversified meat livestock farm in Randolph, VT and competes in Kansas City-style barbecue around New England with her family.
Gwyneth Harris is the Farm Manager at Sterling College. She has been gardening for as long as she can remember, and got her first livestock (a goat named “Creamy”) at the age of five. 35 years later, she still finds limitless opportunity for creativity in farming, and is honored to be able to work in a place where she can learn as she shares her knowledge and love of all things agricultural and food related–whether with her students at Sterling, with other farmers, or with her boisterously enthusiastic boys, who already keep horses, ducks, chickens, and homing pigeons. At home, Gwyneth and her family keep a small herd of dairy cows, five Percheron horses, and other miscellaneous livestock. They raise a variety of meats, sell raw milk, and work the woods and fields with horses. Gwyneth has worked since high school at a wide variety of farms, and has coordinated several agricultural outreach programs, including the Vermont Pasture Program. She also ran the MOFGA Certification Program for Organic Dairies, for a short while. Gwyneth holds a Bachelors of Science in Plant and Soil Science from the University of Vermont.
Sarah Flack is a consultant specializing in providing practical information on grass based and organic livestock production to farmers, organizations, institutions and individuals. She has a diverse background in sustainable agriculture, combining on-farm and academic experience. She is nationally known for her public speaking, workshops, books and numerous articles. She is the author of Organic Dairy Production, and wrote the chapter on grazing management in The Organic Dairy Handbook. She is also a co-author of Transitioning to Organic Dairy – a self assessment workbook, as well as many articles grass based and organic farming systems. Her new book on grass based livestock production, The Art & Science of Grazing Management U, is available from Chelsea Green Publishing.
Sarah received both her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Agriculture & Biology and a Masters of Science in Plant and Soil Science from the University of Vermont. She has postgraduate training in subjects including organic and biodynamic certification, business management, holistic management, and organic production practices including: soil fertility, health care of livestock, animal welfare, and medicinal herbs. Her farming experience includes management of both organic and non-organic dairy, sheep, beef, pastured poultry, and pigs. When she is not traveling, Sarah lives in northern Vermont on her off-grid farm, in a community which values great locally grown food, surrounded by cows grazing on beautiful pastures.
Judith D. Schwartz is a journalist whose recent work looks at soil as a hub for multiple environmental, economic and social challenges and solutions. She writes on this theme for numerous publications and speaks in venues around the world. Her 2013 book, Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth (Chelsea Green Publications) addresses unmaking deserts, rethinking climate change, bringing back biodiversity, and restoring nutrients to our food. It was awarded a Nautilus Book Award Silver Prize for Sustainability and is among Booklist’s Top 10 Books on Sustainability. Her 2016 book, Water in Plain Sight: Hope for a Thirsty World (Macmillan) presents a refreshing perspective on water that transcends zero-sum thinking. It demonstrates that by allying with the water cycle, we can revive lush, productive landscapes. Judith lives and works on the side of a mountain in southern Vermont. She holds a B.A. from Brown University, an M.S.J. from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and an M.A. in Counseling Psychology from Northwestern. She is a longtime member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists.