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Vermont Family Forests
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Conserving The Health Of Our Local Forest Community


Central to Vermont Family Forests' mission is offering information and education about all aspects of ecological forest management. VFF has hosted many workshops, ranging from chainsaw safety to establishing legal trusts to protect forests in perpetuity.

Past Hogback Community College courses

Past VFF Workshops & Programs


Past Hogback Community College Courses
Course Description
Forest Soils in the Hogback Ecosystem This was our 5th offering of this great workshop, led by Dr. Wendy Sue Harper. Once again, her enthusiastic students learned about soil formation, soil properties, land use potential, and how to use NRCS soil information and maps. One big difference this year: we can now offer continuing education credits for both forestry and engineering certification.
Picking up the Flute John Elder--Bristol author, long-time Middlebury College professor, and Vermont Family Forests board member, and family forest owner --read from his newly released memoir, Picking up the Flute, on Thursday evening, August 25th, 7:00pm, at the Lawrence Library in Bristol.
From Forest to Frame Led by master timber framer Will Gusakov and VFF executive director David Brynn, students participated in crafting and erecting a timber frame "forest temple" at the Waterworks community forest, following the process from standing trees to finished frame. (May-June 2015)
Stories from the Land Two of Vermont's outstanding authors and educators--John Elder and Don Mitchell--teamed up to offer this writing course. Students developed personal essays relating present-day attitudes and feelings toward the natural world to the personal experiences that laid the groundwork for those perspectives. (Oct-Nov 2014)  
Tree Identification in the Hogback Ecoregion In this course, taught by Jim Andrews, students learned to recognize some of the basic characteristics of bark, tree form, twigs, buds, leaves, fruit, and habitat to consider when trying to identify native trees in their natural settings. (March - June 2014)
Spanish Through Stories, Beginning and Intermediate After the enthusiastic reception to the summer 2013 offering of Spanish Through Stories, spanish teacher Chris Urban led both and beginner and intermediate level courses in the fall. Students learned Spanish through the Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS) method and met with local migrant Mexican farm workers. (Sept-Oct 2013)
Conserving Vermont's Reptiles and Amphibians, 2013 For the second year, Jim Andrews brought his herpetology expertise to this 2-credit course, in which students learned identification, natural history, and conservation of Vermont's reptiles and amphibians through field work and classroom studies. (Feb-Sept 2013)
Spanish Through Stories In this course,participants learned Spanish using the Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS) method. They read and co-created stories in Spanish, and they met and talked with local migrant Mexican farm workers, both in the classroom and at a farm. (July, 2013)
Four-season Birding in the Hogback Ecoregion Over the course of several months, participants learned to locate and identify l birds by field marks, form, song, and habitat as a first step to knowledge of their natural history and conservation.They learned how and why the birds found in our region change over the seasons, how and where to find them, and characteristics of some of our more common bird families. (Feb-June 2014), (Feb-June 2013)
Soils of the Hogback Ecoregion Soil scientist Dr. Wendy Sue Harper taught this 1-credit course for the second year, and once again she and her course received rave reviews from participants. Her enthusiastic students learned about soil formation, soil properties, land use potential, and how to use NRCS soil information and maps. (March-April 2013, 2014, 2015)
Trees and Where They Grow This course, taught by John Shane, retired chair of the UVM School of Forestry, was scheduled for the fall of 2012, but needed to be cancelled. We hope to offer it again soon.  In the course, students learn to identify (by leaves, buds, and bark) common trees and shrubs of Vermont forests andl explore each species' specific ecological roles in the forest.
Conserving Vermont's Reptiles and Amphibians Led by herpetologist Jim Andrews, students in this 2-credit course learned identification, natural history, and conservation of Vermont's reptiles and amphibians through field work and classroom studies. Students also learned how to locate, document, and report these species for on-going biological field studies. 34 hours of instruction.            (February - September, 2012)
Writing the Waterworks In this writers' workshop, participants combined descriptions of the Waterworks property in Bristol with personal, reflective narratives. Participants used their perceptions of spring in Vermont (captured in both writing and drawing) as the foundations for more extended pieces of writing. Selections from such outstanding nature writers as Henry David Thoreau enriched the context for group discussions. (May, 2012)
Forest Tai Chi Taught by Chinese Medicine practicioner and tai chi instructor Rachel Edwards, students learned Tai Chi/Qi Gong exercises and the first set of the Tung Family Yang Style slow set. This class is on-going, with the first offering in March, 2012.
Forest Soils in the Hogback Ecoregion Soil scientist Wendy Sue Harper taught this 1-credit introductory course on forest soils. Her enthusiastic students learned about soil formation, soil properties, land use potential, and how to use NRCS soil information and maps. Simple experiments and field techniques provided many hands-on learning opportunities. (April 2012)

Homebrewing 101:

An introduction to the art, science, and craft of brewing local ale

Taught by veteran brewer Jeff Munroe, students learned how to make a five-gallon batch of ale or lager. Concepts covered included recipe design, ingredient selection, brewing, grain infusions, hopping, fermenting, siphoning, and bottling.(January - March 2012)
Homegrown Health Series: Part I—Herbs Using the herb gardens of instructor Susan Borg’s farm in Lincoln, Vermont, as their classroom, students learned to identify and harvest herbs for first aid, cold and flu remedies, immune system support, and remedies for aches and pains, and made herbal tinctures, teas, oils, salves, and syrups to take home. 16 hours of instruction. (September-October 2011)
Wetlands of the Hogback Ecoregion Wetland ecologist Shelley Gustafson taught this 1-credit course, in which students explored wetland ecology and hydrology, differences among wetlands natural communities, identification of wetland plants and soils, and management practices that protect and improve wetland health. 16 hours of instruction. (September-October 2011) Shelley Gustafson
Wildflowers & Where the Grow in the Hogback Ecoregion Taught by conservation biologist Liz Thompson, this 1-credit course taught students to understand the connections between wildflowers and their habitats. Students learned about plant ID, reproduction and seed dissemination,  and habitats. 16 hours of instruction. (May-September, 2011)
Conserving Vermont's Reptiles & Amphibians Herpetologist Jim Andrews taught this 2-credit course on the identification, natural history, and conservation of Vermont's reptiles and amphibians. Students attended 4 classroom presentations and 4 field trips targeting different taxonomic groups in different habitat types. 32 hours in instruction. (March-September, 2011)
Frost in the Forest Taught by long-time Middlebury College professor and author John Elder, this seminar encouraged students to deepen their experience not only of Robert Frost's poetry but also of poetry in general. Students closely read and discussed of a cluster of Frost's works, then explored surrounding forests vividly and discerningly through Frost's imagery. 12 hours of instruction. (February, 2011)


Past VFF  Workshops & Programs

Event Description

Poetry in the Watershed

Author and long-time Middlebury College professor John Elder led this evening of conversation about the poetry of Emily Dickenson at the Bristol Bakery.  (June, 2016)


Beltane 2016 Community members gathered to welcome spring at this annual event on the shores of the Norton Brook Reservoir at the Waterworks. Maypole, campfire, food, music, and springtime beauty!
Winter Solstice 2015 Community members gathered at this annual event on the shores of the Norton Brook Reservoir at the Waterworks property for a bonfire, music, singing, pagentry, poetry, delicious food, and good conversation.
Forwarding Path and Skid Trail Closure Workshop In this workshop, second in a three-part series hosted by VFF in cooperation with Lewis Creek Association, participants learned how to properly stabilize and close out forest access paths and how to assess and fix problem areas. Taught by David Brynn, Vermont Family Forests' conservation forester and Kristen Underwood, hydro-geologist. April 2013.
Game of Logging Every year for more than a decade, VFF has offered Soren Eriksson's "Game of Logging" chainsaw safety training courses. We have offered Levels I-II,I which include instruction in basic chainsaw safety procedures, methods for maximizing chainsaw performance, limbing and bucking techniques, and, in Level III, techniques for handling difficult trees. In 2011, we also began offering a GOL Storm Damage training course.
9th Annual Beltane Celebration More than 50 people attended the 2012 Beltane festival, which ushered in the warmest months of the year with music, food, movement, and great fun! The annual celebration featured a bonfire, potluck, May pole dance, and Celtic rituals, as well as the music of Rick Ceballos & Friends and the Community Drummers. Rachel Edwards led participants in Tai Chi moving meditation, and local poet Mary Pratt read her beautiful poem, A Song for the Soil. Read it here!  (April 29, 2012)
Forest Insects & Their Tree Hosts Vermont Family Forests, in cooperation with students from UVM’s Forest Ecosystem Health class and Rhonda Mace of APHIS (USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service), hosted a forest walk about the ecology of insects and their tree hosts. Participants learned identification and surveying techniques to apply in their local woods, with special consideration for species that may present a threat to Vermont forests now and in the future. (April 7, 2012)
Winter Solstice 2011: Occupy Winter Solstice! Occupy Winter Solstice 2011 at the Waterworks was a hoot! The challenging weather broke and the best of fires, food, and festivities emerged through the mist. The Occupy Druid sends his thanks to the wood splitters Kim and Jeff, luminaria lighters Beth, Holly, Catharine and Nancy, fire tenders too numerous to mention, food providers (ditto), the brave musicians Rick, Matt, & Lausanne who occupied the moral high ground, and Cousin Kim for telling the Northwest Corner Conservation Story, the light-showers Charlie and Natasha with the great torches, Susan Borg and the South Mountain Singers for bringing in the light and for all of their tunes especially "Non Nobis" led by Dick Nessen and DEEP PEACE (WOW!), and Waterworks Poet Laureate Mary Pratt for her "Occupy the World" (Mary's Poem), and for all of the potluckers. (December 21, 2011)
Addison County Field Trip: Wood Biomass from Forest to Furnace The University of Vermont, Vermont Family Forests, and the Forest Guild teamed up to present this all-day event. The tour began in Bristol with a discussion of wood biomass supply and demand and an introduction to the Forest Guild’s new biomass retention guidelines to protect the ecological values of forests during harvests. The group then visited recent harvest sites and a processing facility, eating lunch along the way.  The day concluded with a tour of Mt. Abraham High School’s wood chip heating facility in Bristol and a discussion of the group’s observations. (April, 2011)
Winter Solstice 2010 Sponsored by The Watershed Center and Vermont Family Forests, the 13th Annual Winter Solstice Celebration on the west bank of Norton Brook Reservoir featured Rick C and friends; Susan Borg and Dick Nessen leading The Deep Woods Singers; and an eclectic mix of community drummers. (December, 2010)
The Social Black Bear Renowned black bear rehabilitationist and author Ben Kilhan gave an informative lecture at the Lincoln Library. With all of the recent bear activity in the Five-Town Forest, this program arrived just in time! Sponsored by the Lincoln Conservation Commission. (October, 2010)
Conserving Water Quality While Harvesting More Forest Biomass Like it or not we are heading back to the forest for energy. It is not a matter of 'if' but 'how?" This workshop focused on this key question: "Can we conserve water quality while harvesting more forest biomass?" Participants looked at the design of: 1. Roads, Trails, and Log Landings; 2 Stream Crossings; 3. RiparIan and Buffer Zones; and 4. Forest Biomass Harvesting 0perations. (October 2010)
The Art of Action The Vermont Folklife Center hosted a public presentation entitled “The Art of Action: Our Working Landscape and the Future of Vermont’s Forests” led by AOA artist Kathleen Kolb and folklorist Ann Ferrell of New Haven, VT. 

The presentation expand on the theme of Kolb’s body of work featuring the wood products industry centered in and around the Champlain Valley. Kolb and Ferrell led a discussion with those intimately involved in making a living from the forest. Kolb’s paintings capture this important occupational culture and the people's visions, hopes, and dreams for the future of Vermont.

For information on the complete statewide tour see the Art of Action website. (January 2010)
Amphibians in the
Self-Willed Forest

Herpetologist Jim Andrews led a workshop in theWaterworks property in Bristol and introduced participants to the fascinating world of amphibians who live in our area. The event started with a slide show and then a hands-on trip to meet the critters. (June 2008)



Beltane Community Forest Celebration



The Beltane Community Celebration offers community members a chance to gather and celebrate the return of spring. "Beltane" means bright fire and this event features a bonfire, a potluck dinner, a May pole dance, and music from local artists. Come one, come all and help usher in the first days of spring!


Addison County
Conservation Congress


Held annually from 2007-2009, this event brings together community leaders, organizers, nonprofit organizations, and local citizens in collaborative discussions and strategic planning sessions to address the rapidly evolving environment in Addison County and Vermont. (2007-2009)

Coppice Workshops

VFF collaborated with The Watershed Center in offering a workshop entitled "Sustainable Forestry for the Future: Coppice Woodland Management" with Mark Krawczyk of Rivenwood. Coppice management involves growing hardwood sprouts on rotations of seven to 20 years and was commonly practiced in England from 12th to 16th centuries. It will likely be an important tool as we look to forests for more fuel.

New Haven River Headwaters
Conservation Project Meeting

Lincoln landowners contemplated conservation easements as a tool for long-term land conservation at this meeting coordinated by VFF. (July 2006)

Lincoln Conservation Forum

Lincoln residents gathered to brainstorm strategies for conserving Lincoln's natural heritage. At an earlier forum in October, 2005, residents identified and ranked what they valued most about Lincoln's natural heritage (Jan 2006)

Community-Supported Forestry Demonstration

At the Shelburne Farms Harvest Festival, visitors witnessed the step-by-step process of practicing sustainable, community-based forestry — from healthy forest to finished furniture. (Sept 2005)

Fly Fishing and Forest Health

Angler Dave Henderson introduces participants to the art of fly fishing. Geologist Kristen Underwood explains river dynamics and their impacts on fish populations. (May 2005)

Little Hogback Community Forest land walk

Twenty hardy participants join Community Forests Project leader, Deb Brighton (lower right, red hat), during two hikes to explore the 115-acre Little Hogback Parcel that will be sold in shares to community members through VFF's Community Forest Project. (Winter 2005)

Community Forest Project Public Information Meetings

45 community members attended three public meetings to learn more about participating in the Little Hogback Community Forest LLC. The meetings were coordinated by Community Forest Project manager Deb Brighton. (Jan. 2005)

Bird Habitat Stewardship in the Family Forest

Ornithologist Warren King and VFF Founder David Brynn (right) led this workshop, the third in the Biodiversity Workshop series. (May 2004)

The Art of Maple Sugaring workshop

Ben Shepard, of Shepard Maple Production, shares the art of sugaring with workshop participants. (January 2004)

Winter Tracking

Bristol resident Cassandra Corcoran (center) and other workshop participants examine bearclaw marks in a red spruce with workshop leader Greg Borah (center right) during the Winter Tracking workshop, part of the Biodiversity Workshop Series. Greg performs large mammal monitoring for the Colby Hill Ecological Project. (Winter 2003)


Deer Hunting 101

Participants joined veteran hunter Bill Torrey for an in-depth look at deerhunting, includingequipment choices, hunting techniques, and ethics. (October 2003)


Conducting a Biological Inventory in Your Family Forest

Twenty-five participants joined herpetologist Jim Andrews, ecologist Marc Lapin, and mammalogist Jan Decher to learn techniques for assessing biological diversity. This was the first workshop in the Colby Hill Ecological Project Workshop Series.
(September 2003)


Natural Community Mapping

Ecologist Eric Sorenson led three sessions of this course for VFF, teachinglandowners and natural resource managers how to identify natural communities to verify field maps. (2003)

Game of Logging

For many years, VFF has been proud to offer Soren Eriksson's "Game of Logging" chainsaw safety training courses. We has offered Levels I-III which include basic chainsaw safety procedures, methods for maximizing your chainsaw performance, limbing and bucking techniques, and, in Level III, techniques for handling difficult trees. Participants rave about the knowledge they've gleaned from these classes. (2001-2011 and beyond! )


Updated: Monday, 05/08/2017