Summer Courses at Catamount Educational Farm


The University of Vermont Plant and Soil Science Department offers a suite of experiential courses each summer that provide hands-on experiential learning opportunities. Courses may be used to catch up or get ahead, and apply to requirements or electives in multiple programs including Agroecology, Sustainable Landscape Horticulture, Food Systems, Environmental Studies/Science, and other programs across the university.

For 2021, most courses will be taught in-person at the UVM Horticulture Research and Education Center. The HREC hosts Catamount Educational Farm, our working commercial fruit and vegetable farm that supports teaching and research activities for numerous faculty and student projects. We have will follow strict, UVM-approved COVID safety protocols in addition to our normal farm safety procedures.

UVM students register at:
For non-UVM, Continuing Education students, go to:

PSS 120: Cold Climate Viticulture

CRN: 61788
Instructors: Terence Bradshaw
Credits: 3
Dates: June 21 – July 16, 2021
Location: UVM Horticulture Research and Education Center

Course Description: Students will learn principles and practices of commercial cold-climate grape production, including: site selection and preparation; cold hardiness development; varietal selection; vine training and trellising systems; nutrient, water and pest management; harvest and postharvest considerations, including basic winemaking principles. Prerequisites: PSS 010 or PSS 021 or Instructor permission.

PSS 156: Permaculture

CRN: 61516
Instructors: Annie White
Credits: 3
Dates: May 24-June 18, 2021
Location: Online

Course Description: Permaculture is an ethically based, whole-systems design approach to creating sustainable landscapes and human settlements. It strives to create agriculturally productive environments that have the diversity, stability, and resiliency of the natural biosphere while harmoniously integrating people and landscapes. As an interdisciplinary design method, permaculture is rooted in horticulture and agriculture, but also spans into regional planning, ecology, animal husbandry, technology, architecture, and international development. This introductory permaculture course explores the fundamentals of permaculture science and design. Throughout the course, students will work individually to create a permaculture design plan for a site of their choosing. 

PSS 161: SU: Fundamentals of Soil Science

CRN: 61319
Instructors: Josef Gorres
Credits: 4
Dates: July 19 – August 13, 2021
Location: Jeffords Hall 118

Course Description: Soils are at foundation of most of our food system, yet soils are degrading in many places. How are we going to feed the 9 billion, provide human habitat and involve the soil in solving environmental problems? PSS 162 teaches the most fundamental principles of soil science. How does soil form? What is its place in the modern food system? What makes a soil a good soil for agriculture or residential developments? How is the soil involved in nutrient cycling? And much more…The class uses a mix of on-line and in person lectures, readings and labs. The summer version of PSS162 emphasizes outdoor lab experiences. We’ll visit soils on the UVM farms and learn how to describe profiles and how to interpret them. Our text book will be Brady and Weil, The Nature and Properties of Soils, 15th Edition.

PSS 195: Introduction to Beekeeping

CRN: 61789 (online)
Instructors: Samantha Alger
Credits: 3
Dates: July 19 – August 13, 2021
Location: online

Course Description: In this online course, students will learn the fundamentals of being responsible stewards of honey bee colonies and the skills to support good decision-making in today’s changing world of beekeeping. This introductory course will cover topics including basic bee biology, the factors driving global pollinator decline, current topics in pollinator research, purchasing equipment, and bees, integrated pest management, queen grafting, and successful strategies for overwintering. Note that the course material will be presented asynchronously. If you are interested in a hands-on beekeeping course, please see “Hands-on Beekeeping” CN 61421;  PSS 195 – Z1

PSS 195: Hands-on Beekeeping

CRN: 61421
Instructors: Samantha Alger
Credits: 3
Dates: July 19 – August 13, 2021
Location: UVM Horticulture Research & Education Center

Course Description: Due to the spread of emerging pests and pathogens and changes in agricultural practices, today’s honey bees and their beekeepers face far more challenges. In this exciting hands-on course, students will learn the fundamentals of being responsible stewards of honey bee colonies and the skills to support good decision-making in today’s changing world. This introductory course offers a combination of classroom lectures and hands-on field experience on topics including basic bee biology, the factors driving global pollinator decline, purchasing equipment and bees, integrated pest management, and successful strategies for overwintering. Attendance is mandatory for every class as each class serves as the foundation for the next. Will you get stung? Protective clothing and proper handling techniques greatly reduce the risk of bee stings. However, some bee stings are inevitable. If you have an allergy to bee venom, you should not take the in-person version of this course. Check out the online version of the course: “Introduction to Beekeeping – 61789 – PSS 195 – OL1”

PSS 209: Diversified Farm Operations

CRN: 61790
Instructors: Terence Bradshaw and Rachel Stievater
Credits: 6
Dates: May 24 – August 13, 2021
Location: UVM Horticulture Research and Education Center

Course Description: In this hands-on, experiential course, students will learn principles and practices of sustainable, diversified specialty crop production on-site at the Catamount Educational Farm.  Topics include: vegetable crop families; soil fertility management; composting; weed, insect and disease management; propagation and planting; crop planning; irrigation systems; farm financials and business planning; marketing techniques; broiler chicken management; and tractor operation.  The class format will consist of a combination of lectures, hands-on fieldwork, and visits to local farms. Lectures will be presented by instructors and guest speakers from UVM Extension, the Plant and Soil Science Department and local farmers. Concepts and skills taught will immediately be applied through participation in Cat Farm’s five-acre vegetable operation that supplies produce to the community through a CSA; a farm stand; and multiple wholesale accounts. Some work will also be performed in the UVM orchard and/or vineyard.

This course partners closely with the UVM Farmer Training Program (FTP), a noncredit, 6-month intensive program offered through Continuing and Distance Education. We will learn alongside FTP students both in the field and in the classroom.

Mondays begin with a crop class in the field, followed by a field walk to assess farm management and work tasks required for that week. After the field walk, students will learn farm skills and participate in the weekly farm tasks. Students will learn how to harvest, weed, direct seed, transplant, set up irrigation and operate a tractor.

PSS 311: Introduction to Agroecology

CRN: 61570
Instructors: V. Ernesto Mendez and Victor Izzo
Credits: 3
Dates: May 18 – June 5, 2020

Course Description: 

This hybrid, graduate level, 4-week course presents an in-depth overview of research and applications in the field of agroecology. The first three weeks of the course are online, and the last week students will participate in an alternative online experience that engages with our local Vermont partners and their farms.

The course seeks to provide students with both conceptual and practical content, covering the evolution of the field of agroecology, from its origins to the present, as it gains increasing recognition in scientific, policy, social movement and farming spaces.

Prerequisite: Graduate standing or Instructor permission.