We are currently recruiting farmers to be part of the Peer Network. Please reach out to andyg (at) investeap.org if you'd like to learn more.
Vermonters helping Vermonters is a tradition as old as our state. We're starting a network of farmers throughout the state, including your neighbors, who want to support each other in different ways. We invite you to join us.
Here's our vision: We will assemble a group of farmers and ag service providers who want to offer support to farmers experiencing stress. We will offer to train you in the basics of (1) core resources available to help farmers in VT and (2) how to offer nonjudgmental active listening that helps others feel heard and reduces their stress.
"The group has a wide range of experiences, yet we can all agree about the intense stress of farming and the need for a group and a project like this one. I'm looking forward to continuing both the collective Zoom time and the self-guided activities between sessions." - Farmer Peer on the training
Farmers seeking to connect with other farmers will then be able to reach out to trained peers. You are primarily offering to help simply talk with a fellow farmer so that they feel some support and do not feel isolated with their problem. A few of you may be more comfortable simply offering some needed labor to help someone avert a crisis. It's your choice. You aren't committing to anything up front, and you can always connect a fellow farmer to one of our Farm First staff. Oftentimes farmers simply want to have a conversation with a fellow farmer about their situation.
Here is a summary of the recent information session:
- Farm First is public non-profit jointly funded by the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, and the Vermont Agency of Human Services InvestEAP Centers for Wellbeing.
- Farm First provides referrals to a wide array of free resources to reduce farmer stress, from financial, to family, to physical accommodations, as well as access to counseling.
- The Farmer Peer Network is a new initiative aimed at making it easier for farmers to both reduce stress by talking to a trained peer, and provide easier access to the resources mentioned above.
- The Peer training is in two parts: the first 3 sessions (6 hours) start teaching the skills, and requires no commitment to become a peer. For the second 3 sessions, we are asking people to commit to being a peer for at least 1-2 years.
- We are providing a stipend for the training, which will be determined by how many people are being trained.
- There are other opportunities to be involved with Farm First, including being a member of our Advisory Group.
We would love to have a conversation with you to answer any questions. Please email andyg (at) investeap.org or leannep (at) farmfirst.org.
The Peer Training schedule for Fall-Winter, 2022-2033
Session #1 - Monday, December 5th, 2022, 6:00-7:30pm
Session #2 - Monday, December 19, 2022, 6:00-7:30pm
Session #3 - Monday, January 9th, 2023, 6:00-7:30pm
Session #4 - 2nd week of January
Session #5 - 3rd week of January
Session #6 - 4th week of January
Our peer support program will be developed based on the input we get from farmers about what works well. Contact us if you're interested in sharing or learning more.