Welcome to the Farmer Peer Support Network!

Here you can look for a trained peer to talk-through an issue, or access other services and counseling.

You can also view our interactive map to find a peer near you.

April Bodette

Glover, VT
peer-farmer (animals and vegetables)

My farming experience is deeply rooted in my DNA and self-taught. I grew up learning about the land with my father, who made his livelihood in logging sustainably and a maple sugaring operation. When I was a young girl, I would harvest small conifer trees and replant them to grow a new forest. Also, as a young girl, my grandfather grew acres of garden. I was the driver of his old John Deere tractor while he walked behind to wheel harrow the rows. I learned to weed mile-long rows of the garden! By an early age, I was connected to the land. Listening to my elders and learning from what I observed made sense. Today, we have two small greenhouses and a 4,000-tap maple sugar bush. We have a farm stand at the farm to sell our products. We grow vegetables, fruit, eggs, and meats for our use. We also supported organizing and bringing to fruition our local farmers market and attended as a vendor selling our products. I enjoy being a small-scale farmer and want to help others with the stress when things do not go as planned. At our farm, we've dabbled in ways to manage growing operating costs and think having these experiences can help others take a step back, evaluate, and find the next best step forward. I am a licensed mental health counselor.

Karen Callicott

Shoreham, VT
peer-farmer (Dairy)

I grew up as the 4th generation on a dairy farm in Addison County. I worked side-by-side with my parents and my younger brother, tending to our cattle and stewarding the land. My folks milk 160-head of Holsteins and raise all their youngstock – the calves were my responsibility from early on. I also learned to drive a lot of the equipment and implements – the farm grows hay, soybeans, corn, and various grains. While I have taken a step back from the active part of the family farm, I still do the books and am heavily involved in agriculture in other ways. In 2020 my husband and I bought an acre all our own to raise our family & begin our own small-scale farming journey with a garden and chickens. We'd love to add more animals eventually! I feel that my experience with my own mental health, as well as raising children while farming gives me a unique perspective. I understand the many challenges that comes with farm life. Available times: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Saturday & Sunday, varying times.

Ryan Demarest

Hyde Park, VT
peer-farmer (Produce)

I am a first-generation farmer and I started growing vegetables in my early 30s just a short time after my first experience on a produce farm. It has been a long road learning how to successfully grow food and I have farmed in 3 different locations as I enter my tenth growing season. Five years ago, we purchased raw land and are building our farm from the ground up. I manage our property with my wife who has her own gardening business off-farm. I always look forward to making improvements and increasing efficiencies on our land. Raising food can be very demanding and I have a deep understanding of the stressors and challenges resulting from the work. I have personally utilized the resources at Farm First during a particularly challenging season and know how beneficial connecting with a peer or mentor can be. Because of a my background in the mental health field as an at-risk youth wilderness guide coupled with my agricultural experience, volunteering at Farm First is a good fit and I am happy to donate my time and energy for what I believe is worthwhile and super helpful. Mondays, Wednesday's, and Thursdays are very challenging days for me to connect with someone over the phone. I am always available on email and during the rest of the week it is easier to connect on the phone or potentially in person as well.

Eugenie Doyle

Monkton, VT
peer-farmer (fruit & vegetable)

I've been farming since 1979, first as an intern on goat and cow dairies, followed by 14 yrs milking Jerseys with my husband, transitioning to an organic berry, vegetable and hay operation which we are currently turning over to one of our sons. Our farm like many small farms has been through several transitions with accompanying personal and family challenges. At every juncture I've found people to help and now as I reduce my active farming role I'd like to give back to that generous farm community.

Ben Fishbein

Burlington, VT
peer-farmer (Other)

Farming is a labor of love. I've spent the past five years growing vegetables and recently pivoted to regenerative tree nursery production at the Intervale Center in Burlington, VT. I started off at Brookfield Farm in Amherst, MA and after three years in the "happy valley" I moved north, working at several small organic veg farms along the way. I've learned so much during each season. Resiliency, efficiency, sequencing, and most valuable (to me), stewarding positive interpersonal growth. It's no secret that farming is a stressful career. I want to share the tools I have on my proverbial tool belt as an offering to those that love the land. To those that love providing something wonderful to their respective communities. I may be a young farmer, but I've been around the block enough to know that stress is inevitable and that there are countless ways to mitigate and move through it. I want to help you move through these challenges like a canoe down the current. When not in the fields, I have been facilitating a men's group called The Brother's Hearth, for young men to share space and encourage one another bask in the beauty that is their authentic vulnerable selves.

Eli Hersch

Norwich, VT
(organic vegetables)

I've spent the last 15 years working on family farms and now running our own. I've mainly focused on wholesale organic vegetables but I had a few great seasons with pastured livestock and dairy. My partner Valerie and I started our farm in 2020 and currently we raise 15 acres of organic vegetables and 8 greenhouses of veggie, herb and flower starts for retail and wholesale markets. Farming is stressful in a way that only people who've been there can understand. Every time I chat with a friend who's a farmer I'm relieved to remember that other people are going through the same challenges I am. I'm happy to lend a hand, or even just an ear, to any farmer looking for someone to understand their situation without any judgement. I can especially relate to challenges facing new farmers, those working to access land and capital, and farmers scaling up quickly. I would like to help Vermont's farming community become more welcoming to all.

Geo Honigford

South Royalton, VT
peer-farmer (vegetable, popcorn, hay)

Geo started and spent 26 years running Hurricane Flats farm, an organic vegetable, popcorn and hay operation. When I decided to stop farming and do other things with my life, my struggles with that decision brought me into the orbit of others that are really struggling with that same decision. Having made it to the other side, I think I bring an understanding to that issue and other issues that farmers are facing.

Alicia Jenks

Weathersfield, VT
peer-farmer (beef cattle and blueberries)

Plants, animals and the natural world in general, have always been my passion. I find the most peace in my life when directly connected to the earth. I believe farmers and farming are the stewards of our land. They are especially well regarded here in Vermont and will carry us into our collective future. I want to do everything I can to support them and I think my years working in Vermont schools as a counselor can do that. I am "retired" now, after years of blending work on and off the farm. I understand how difficult it can be to keep things afloat when a person chooses to accept the many challenges farm life presents. Through the years I have had to make some very tough decisions. 1980-2004 North Pomfret, Echo Farm Partner and I raised Hereford and Red Angus Beef Cattle. 2005-Present Weathersfield, Vermont Green Dragon Farm. Currently raise Charolais/Red Angus Beef Cattle Organically Grown Blueberries.

Christine Lazor

Westfield, VT
peer-farmer (Dairy)

Growing up on a small family dairy farm and being involved in many aspects of the farm as well as production, sales and marketing of dairy products has provided a wide range of experiences. I have been a caregiver to livestock and my family for 20 years while also being involved in and committed to many other aspects of farming and food production. I value people's stories and experiences. I want to know more about them and to offer connection and support to farmers and farm workers.

Sam Rossier

North Danville, VT
peer-farmer (Integrated)

Farming is my lifelong passion, rivaled only by farm equipment and designing machinery. Growing up in Vershire, Vermont, I raised working steers, pigs and chickens, and helped tend the garden. I worked on dairy farms intermittently throughout high school and college. In 2020, my wife and I bought a few acres and started Sunday Bell Farm, a raw milk dairy and diversified livestock farm. We market directly to consumers, manage an intensive grazing system, and make all our own feed and bedding hay. Aside from our barnyards, we operate our farm on leased land. I also work full time off the farm. Time and stress management have been a challenge. Wrestling with the mental, emotional, and physical challenges of building a viable farm business, going to a day job, and trying to maintain a positive attitude have made me realize how important relationships are for keeping my life in perspective. I feel extremely grateful to have supportive family and friends who encourage me to seek out my dreams. But most of the time, they just don't understand what it takes to keep it all together. I look forward to meeting farmers, talking about life, and being supportive in any way that I can.

Stoni Tomson

Richmond, VT
peer-farmer (organic vegetables)

After 5 or so years of working on farms of various kinds and scales mostly out on the West Coast, I took the leap in early 2020 to start my own vegetable farm on leased land in Richmond. Starting a farm has been one of the most difficult and painful processes I've ever gone through. Along with the more in-your-face stresses of running a farm business (production challenges, farm finance, land access, staffing), this process has demanded that I wrestle with deeply held beliefs around money, relationships, success, family, gender, climate change, and mental health itself. It can be unhinging, and yet I found I'm not alone in this. Having the support of a few fellow farmers who lend a non judgmental ear has been a core part of why I'm still at it. I hope to be that support for others. I am a genderqueer farmer, and I encourage fellow queer and trans farmers to reach out.

Paige Wener

Sudbury, VT
peer-farmer (organic vegetables)

I traveled and worked on multiple farms of varying production size and type for five years after college, and moved back to Vermont in 2019 to start my own business growing certified organic vegetables. I have gained much knowledge and experience through my own mental health challenges, and feel that I have a lot to offer because of this. Starting my own farm from scratch was the most stressful period of my life, and I hope to help other farmers navigate any kind of struggle they are having. I'm a sixth-generation Vermonter, born and raised!

Beth Whiting

Richmond, VT
peer-farmer (animals)

In 1999 I purchased a fallow hilltop dairy farm in Huntington with my husband and we started with grass fed beef, pasture raised layer hens, pigs and sheep. We ran a summer camp for a few years and operated a yurt rental business on the property. Presently in Richmond now, we focus on poultry, beef, pigs and layer hens with a small USDA poultry processing facility on our farm. I want to be supportive to others that need a set of ears. Our farm has been through many ups and downs and I can associate with someone going through similar challenges. I love to cook and talk about clean healthy food choices. Creating a strong community of local eaters is one of our missions. Our farm has been through several disasters, Irene flooding and a barn burning so I can empathize with losses and resiliency. I also can identify as someone with disabilities (reduced motor capabilities limiting my farming over the years).

Jessie Witscher

Bridport, VT
peer-farmer (Flowers, pastured livestock and vegetables)

I am currently the Farmer Peer Support Coordinator. I have over 15 years of farming experience both working for others and co-owning my own farm business. I have worked with livestock, veggies, and cut flowers. I am a mother of an amazing 15 year old daughter.

Valerie Woodhouse

Norwich, VT
peer-farmer (organic vegetables)

I started farming in 2013 on an organic vegetable farm and have been doing it ever since. My interests steered me towards greenhouse production and growing live plants. My partner and I farmed 2 acres on rented land for 5 seasons as we both worked full time off of the farm. In 2020 we launched our new business Honey Field Farm managing 12 greenhouses, 12 acres of organic veggie production, and a team of 10-12 employees. I know how stressful farming can be, especially when launching a new business or scaling up quickly. As a trained mental health provider, I can share some skills to help reduce stress, prioritize goals, and build support systems into daily farming. I'd love to share some accessible ways that have helped improve my mental health on the farm. I've been lucky enough to benefit from so many of Vermont's incredible resources and programs. I've learned they many of my challenges are common and people are out there who can help. You don't have to figure it out on your own.