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Vermont Family Forests
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Conserving The Health Of Our Local Forest Community

VFF Workshops and Events &

Hogback Community College Courses

We usually hold VFF workshops & events rain or shine, but sometimes weather conditions will cause us to cancel a workshop. We ask that you call the VFF offices (453-7728) the morning of the workshop in case of rain, snow, or high winds. We will leave a message on the voicemail message if the workshop is cancelled.

Visit our Events Gallery to see the programs we've offered in the past!

Click on the titles below for in-depth course descriptions and registration information for current and up-coming courses:

Workshops and Events


Hogback Community College Courses


Hogback Community College (HCC) is a loose but energetic confederation of teachers and learners in the Five-Town Forest of northeastern Addison County, Vermont. Our goal in forming HCC is to create a true community college—one that celebrates and sustains this community by offering a diverse, changing array of useful and attractive courses. These 1- and 2-credit (16-32 hours of instruction) courses offer in-depth explorations on the subjects they cover.






March 17, 8:30-noon

New Haven, VT


Reserve your spot in the workshop by signing up through Eventbrite.


In conventional logging, a skidder moves logs from the forest to the log landing, dragging the logs over the forest floor. Skidders are designed to move perpendicular to the land’s contour—that’s how they work best. If done under frozen winter conditions, especially with a thick layer of snow on the ground, skidding can be done without damaging forest soils. But such ideal conditions can be hard to come by, and even harder to schedule logging around. If soils are soft and wet, skidding can rut, compress, and erode forest soils, adding sediment to streams and sucking nutrients from the forest.


By contrast, a log forwarder lifts logs onto a trailer and rolls them out of the forest on weight-displacing tires, keeping the soil intact, logs clean, and access paths undisturbed. Because it’s small-scale and light on the land, the forwarding process allows for frequent forays into the forest with minimal disturbance (rather than the conventional, once-every-10-to-15-year big-impact harvest).


Within the current trends in forest ownership and management, woodlots are getting smaller, and logging equipment is getting bigger. This workshop will explore and demonstrate infrastructure that’s more appropriate to small parcel size and small logging projects that get logs and firewood out of the forest economically.


In this workshop, you’ll learn how a small-scale, family forest-sized forwarding operation works. We’ll look at access path layout, trailer capacity, optimal conservation practices, and local capacity for small-scale forwarding. What are the advantages of forwarding? What are its pitfalls?  


This workshop will give you the opportunity to see what a small-scale forwarding operation could look like on your land. Weather permitting, you’ll see and learn how to sequence tree felling and limbing, log twitching (positioning them along the forwarding path so that the forwarder can pick them up), and forwarding of logs to a landing/milling area.


The workshop will take place in the New Haven forest of Mark Krawczyk, permaculture designer, traditional woodworker, and natural builder with Yestermorrow Design/Build School. Mark has a pine stand that he’d like to cut and mill on site. He plans to bring in a portable sawmill to his forest to mill the logs once forwarding is complete.


The workshop will be facilitated by Vermont Family Forests executive director and conservation forester David Brynn. We’ll draw upon the expertise of master woodsman Bill Torrey, who brings 35 years of logging experience to the workshop, 20 of which were spent using a forwarder. Local woodsman Dudley Levitt will demonstrate log forwarding.


We consider this workshop an exploration—we don’t have it all figured out, and we’re welcoming the opportunity for conversation. Our aim is to adapt forest practices to changing climate, with landowners who want careful access to low volumes using small-scale equipment on an established access road network.




"David Birdsall is a jedi! Had a blast today in the woods, can't wait for next week!"

--Game of Logging Level I participant, Spring 2017


The Game of Logging training program combines Scandinavian logging techniques with the latest systems for working safely around trees. We cannot overstate the value of these courses. We have participants who’ve used chainsaws for 30 years prior to taking GOL Level I say that the course changed the way they work in the woods. The GOL courses must be taken in sequence (even if you have chainsaw experience, you must begin with Level I).

Level 1. Precision Felling Techniques. This workshop introduces open-face felling and the development of techniques to safely use it. Topics covered include personal protective equipment, chainsaw safety features, chainsaw reactive forces, bore cutting, pre-planning the fell, and understanding hinge wood strength. 8AM-4PM one-day course. Maximum 10 participants. LEVEL 1 COURSE OUTLINE.

Level 2. Maximizing Saw Performance. This workshop focuses on maximizing chainsaw performance through basic maintenance, carburetor setting, and filing techniques. Limbing and bucking techniques are introduced, spring pole cutting is covered and more felling is practiced. 8AM-4PM one-day course. Maximum 10 participants. LEVEL 2 COURSE OUTLINE

Level 3: Limbing, Bucking, and Difficult Trees. This workshop training includes dealing with lean when felling trees; limbing and bucking downed trees; and felling difficult and hung-up trees. LEVEL 3 COURSE OUTLINE

The Game of Logging chainsaw training course is taught by the outstanding instructors from Northeast Woodland Training. Visit their website for detailed course descriptions.

Spring 2018

Cost per training session level: $190

Level I: April 5, 2018 (Thurs) at 8:00 am

(rain date*: April 12) WAITING LIST ONLY.

Level I: April 12, 2018 (Thurs) at 8:00 am

(rain date*: April 19) WAITING LIST ONLY.

Level II: April 19, 2018 (Thurs) at 8:00 am

(rain date*: April 26)

Level III: April 26, 2018 (Thurs) at 8:00 am

(rain date*: May 3)

*GOL workshops are held rain or shine. They will only be postponed in the event of extreme weather, particularly high winds. Participants must be available on both the course date and the rain date.

Location and directions: All 2018 GOL workshops will be held at The Waterworks Property, which is located at 4783 Plank Road in Bristol. From the traffic light in downtown Bristol, head north 0.6 miles on North Street. Turn left (west) onto Plank Road and drive 3.5 miles (You will remain on Plank Road through two intersections). The parking area for the Waterworks property is on the right just before a sharp turn to the left over Norton Brook.

How to Register: Download the registration form here. On it you’ll find detailed information about the registration process, including fees, cancellation policies, directions to course meeting sites, etc.  To secure a place in the workshop(s), please complete the registration form and mail with payment to VERMONT FAMILY FORESTS to the address indicated on the form. (We must have payment in hand to reserve a place for you). We will hold your payment until we reach the minimum number of students required for offering the course. If we have already reached the course’s maximum student capacity by the time you submit your registration, we will place you on a waiting list.




Dates: April 5, 7, 14, 19, and 21, 2018 (see schedule table below)

Location: Bristol, Vermont 

Cost: $160 (16-hour course)


Participants who complete this course can receive continuing education credit. Please indicate on your registration form if you are wanting to receive any of the credit options below:

  • Society of American Foresters Continuing Education Credits for re-licensing foresters: 12 Category 1 CFE credits
  • State of Vermont ANR/DEC Licensed Designer Continuing Education Credits: 8 for soils and 4 for non-soils.


"I’m thoroughly impressed with Dr. Harper’s extensive knowledge of soil science, and her ability to share seemingly endless technical information, which also included plant species, geology and topography that all related back to soils characterization."

—participant in  Forest Soils in the Hogback Ecoregion


We are delighted to welcome back soil scientist and educator Dr. Wendy Sue Harper for her sixth year teaching this introductory course on forest soils, which is accredited through the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (see note below). Students will attend 2 classroom presentations and 4 field trips targeting different soils on the Waterworks in Bristol. During classroom lectures, students will learn about soil properties as indicators of soil formation and land use potential (including the five soil forming factors, soil profiles and horizons, soil texture, structure, color, pH, and organic matter), and how to use NRCS soil information and maps. 

During field studies, students will undertake simple experiments and learn basic field soil examination techniques while studying several different soil types (including glacial outwash deposits, clayplain soils, soils formed in acid or neutral tills, and wetlands and streambank soils). 

This course is especially appropriate for landowners, natural resource professionals, educators, and planners who want to improve their understanding of soils and how they influence our landscape.

Date Time Location Activity

April 5, 2018


7-9pm VFF office, Bristol Lecture 1: Basic soil properties as indicators of soil formation, the natural environment, and land use, including: the five soil forming factors; soil profiles and horizons; and soil texture, structure, color, pH, and organic matter.

April 7, 2018


8:30am-12:30pm Waterworks Property, Bristol Field study 1: Introduction to basic field soil examination, descriptions and techniques; focusing on forest soils formed in glacial outwash deposits or neutral tills (Colton, Melrose, and Farmington)

April 14, 2018


8:30am-12:30pm Waterworks Property Field study 2: More soil examination, focusing on soils in the clayplain forest or acid tills (Kingsbury, Covington, and Tunbridge)

April 19, 2018


7-9pm VFF office, Bristol Lecture 2: Time for additional question on materials covered. Tour Web Soil Survey to develop an understanding of making soil maps and maps of land use potential to understand sites and the natural environment. Mini-lectures on soil issues raised by students, e.g. soil biology, pH, CEC, etc.

April 21, 2018



Waterworks Property Field study 3: More soil examination, focusing on wetland soils and soils that form along streams or acid forest soils formed in kamic materials (Walpole, Elmwood, and Stetson)

April 28, 2018


8:30am-12:30pm Waterworks Property Snow/rain date, if needed.

How to Register: Download the registration form here. On it you’ll find detailed information about the registration process, including fees, cancellation policies, directions to course meeting sites, etc.  Please complete the registration form and mail with check payment to VERMONT FAMILY FORESTS at the address indicated on the form. We will hold your payment until we reach the minimum number of students required for offering the course. If we have already reached the course’s maximum student capacity by the time you submit your registration, we will place you on a waiting list.


About the Instructor  

Wendy Sue Harper, Ph.D. has over 25 years of experience in college-level education and agricultural technical assistance. Her undergraduate and graduate degrees were in soil science. She has taught soil science, ecological agriculture, and composting using skill-building approaches at Green Mountain College, the University of Vermont, and Dartmouth College. Wendy Sue teaches Agricultural Biodiversity at Green Mountain College and soils and composting to the Master Gardeners and Master Composters and has worked for UVM-Extension, Northeast-SARE, and NOFA-VT. Currently, Wendy Sue provides educational and technical services to the farming and gardening community through her business, WSH Consulting, in Monkton, VT.