Hands-on Learning

In everything it does, VFF aims to cultivate what Aldo Leopold described as “an intense consciousness of land.” We teach workshops and courses that cultivate hands-on, hearts-on connection with the forests of home.

Hogback Community College

Wendell Berry uses of the word “membership” to evoke the potential for rich relationship between an individual and his or her human and more-than-human communities. Membership implies not simply responsibilities and rights, but also the pleasures of actively contributing to the one’s beloved home on earth and the network of life which it supports.

One natural expression of such a warm sense of affiliation is a lifelong desire to teach and learn from one’s neighbors. Accordingly, by the bonfire at the Waterworks Winter Solstice gathering in 2009, the idea for Hogback Community College took shape as a loose but energetic confederation of teachers and learners in the Five-town Forest of northeastern Addison County, Vermont.

Our goal was to create a true community college—one that celebrates and sustains our community through 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 Ridge forges north-south through the center of our five-town region, which embraces New Haven, Bristol, Monkton, Starksboro, and Lincoln. It seems fitting, then, that this backbone of our local landscape is the namesake for this community-based experiment in learning.

Since our first HCC course in 2011—the writing course, “Frost in the Forest,” taught by John Elder, we’ve offered dozens of courses on topics ranging from timber framing and conserving Vermont's amphibians to beer brewing to forest tai chi.

Close up of a tenon

Game of Logging Chainsaw Training

We have offered Game of Logging chainsaw training workshops every year since the early 2000s. That’s because we’re committed to empowering landowners to work safely and efficiently in their woods, to clear their forest paths and fell trees with care and safety. The Game of Logging courses, taught by excellent instructors from Northeast Woodland Training, provide such empowering skill.

Referred to as a “game,” for their lightly competitive nature, these training workshops start with the basics of open-face felling and work their way through chainsaw maintenance, through felling difficult trees and maximizing a harvest plan.

Two men at a chainsaw class

Other VFF Workshops

Over the years, we’ve offered workshops in a wide array of subjects–from log forwarding to fly fishing–always with the intention to develop skills and nurture curiosity and deeper connection to the forest.

For a listing of all our upcoming courses and workshops, visit our Events page.