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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.





Hogback Community College                                                  POETRY in the WATERSHED

Ours is a community with numerous individuals who both love poetry and feel strongly affiliated with our forested landscape. In appreciation of the contributions of Hogback Community College, John Elder would like to invite anyone who is interested in doing so to explore a small group of poems by Emily Dickinson together.


Dickinson, in addition to being an extraordinarily original writer, was a New Englander whose poems often begin in close observation of the natural world. While enjoying their distinctive language, images, and rhythms we may find that we are also helped to sharpen our focus on Bristol's own buzzing and blooming world.


This will be a free-standing session rather than the first installment of a class, but if it feels worthwhile to participants it may be followed at irregular intervals by gatherings devoted to other poets. If you're interested in attending, please RSVP and download a pdf of the selected poems for the evening below. Anyone who just wants to drop in on the spur of the moment will be welcome too.

On Thursday, June 23rd, we will meet from 7 to 9 at the Bristol Bakery.The bakery is generously making space available free of charge, and there will be no fee for the evening. Coffee, tea, and cookies will be available for purchase.

Date: June 23, 2016

Time: 7 - 9pm

Cost: Free



From 1973 to 2010 John Elder taught at Middlebury College, where he was the Stewart Professor of English and Environmental Studies and was known for his wonderful teaching and for his critical work on nature writing. He is the author of Picking Up the Flute (just released by Green Writers Press) and Reading the Mountains of Home and has edited an encyclopedia, American Nature Writers, and (with Robert Finch) The Norton Anthology of Nature Writing. He lives with his family in Bristol, Vermont.


To register: RSVP by signing in here. Download a pdf of selected Dickinson poems for the evening.





GOL instructor Dave Birdsall and students

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. This fall, we'll be offering levels 1 & 2 of the training program, as well as a special Storm Damage Recovery session. The GOL courses build on the previous ones and must be taken in sequence: Level I then Level 2 then Level 3.

Fall 2016

Cost per training session level: $170

  1. Level I: October 6, 2016 at 8:00 am (Thursday), raindate October 13
  2. Level II: October 13, 2016 at 8:00 am (Thursday), raindate October 20
  3. Level III: Storm Damage Recovery: Safe & Sustainable Tree Felling, Bucking, and Removal in Storm-impacted Forests.  October 20, 2016 at 8:00 am (Thursday), raindate October 27

Location and directions: All 2016 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.  Please complete the registration form and mail with payment to VERMONT FAMILY FORESTS to 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.


Hogback Community College                                                        FOREST SOILS IN THE HOGSBACK ECOREGION, 2017

We won't be holding the Forest Soils course in 2016, but it'll be back on the schedule for Spring 2017. Check back for details!

"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 fifth 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.

Participants who complete this course receive continuing education credit from the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources: 8 ANR soil credits and 4 ANR non-soil credits.


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 soils and/or 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.