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A program of the Center for an Agricultural Economy

Meet Our Staff and Board of Directors

Reeve Basom

Education and Agriculture Coordinator: Reeve joined the CAE’s community programs team in May, 2016. Her background is in education, including six years of classroom teaching in VT public schools, a masters degree in teaching, and a variety of leadership roles in programs focused on experiential food-systems and outdoor education for youth. She relishes the creative, collaborative work of building school-community partnerships and falls more in love with her NEK homeland every day.

Martha Braithwaite  (bio tbd)                                                staff photo goofy poses in kitchen 

Kristin Blodgett

Kristin joined the Center for an Agricultural Economy in March 2015. She is a financial and project manager by training with seven years of experience supporting local and international community development programs. In the last several years her work has focused on a portfolio of USAID-funded agricultural and natural resource management programs in sub-Saharan Africa, during which time she also provided support to the UN FAO Committee on World Food Security through the negotiation of the international Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries, and Forests in the Context of National Food Security. Kristin is a native of Vermont and now lives in Burlington.

Connor Gorham

Facilities Manager: Connor Gorham, of Rochester, NH, has worked for the CAE/VFVC since May of 2011. He has a BA in Culinary Arts from the New England Culinary Institute and has a passion for food that only few can match. Connor spent a 9 month internship in Boston, MA at a fine dining restaurant and more recently has spent the past two years working at Vermont Soy in preparation of landing a spot at the VFVC. Since May, Connor has received Better Process Control Certification at Cornell University to certify food products with specific FDA requirements as well as become a registered ServSafe Instructor and Test Proctor. This allows the CAE/VFVC to offer food safety courses and certification under Connor's tutelage. Connor has had a vision of working with food businesses and entrepreneurs for several years now and feels that he is living out his dream each and every day. Now living in Johnson, VT, Connor enjoys playing basketball, hitting the slopes, and spending time with his dog Bert.

Daniel Keeney

Farm and Food Business Advisor: Daniel Keeney is a St. Johnsbury, VT native who has joined the Center for an Agricultural Economy after graduating from the University of Vermont’s Masters’ Program in Community Development and Applied Economics. His work there examined potential market demand in emerging agricultural markets, particularly for compost. He has worked with several Vermont farmers, in on-farm production and maintenance as well as direct market sales and delivery. He has worked at Montpelier’s Hunger Mountain Co-op in cheese sales, and he continues to work part-time as a junior partner at Dunc’s Mill Artisanal Rums in Barnet, VT. He spends his free time in the Plainfield, VT community, growing food, cooking food and singing to his cat.

Josh Minot

Farm to Institution Sales and Accounts Manager: Josh is Vermont native who is driven by a strong interest in sustainable innovation in food and agriculture. At the CAE, Josh is focused on supporting the smooth operation and strategic expansion of the Just Cut line of minimally processed local products. Additionally, he assists with programs that help farmers explore expansion into wholesale markets, and the coordination of regional processing and distribution infrastructure. He began his direct involvement with the Vermont food system in high school while working in a farm to table restaurant and later as a farm hand on a diversified farm. He holds a bachelor's degree in Agroecology from Hampshire College and a Five Colleges Certificate in Agriculture and Food Systems. During his time in Western Massachusetts he worked on multiple farm to institution initiatives--mainly identifying sourcing solutions for large purchasers that are beneficial for diverse sets of stakeholders. He also has interests in appropriate technology in agriculture, primarily in the areas of information technology and energy systems. Josh is excited to have the opportunity to support accessibility, quality, and sustainable growth in the regional food system.

Sarah Waring

Executive Director: Since 2013, Sarah has been working with the excellent staff and Board team at the CAE, where programs like the Equipment Access Program and Grow Your Own have emerged under her leadership. She brings over a decade of experience working in government and non-profit fields to the role. Prior to joining the CAE, Sarah Waring served as Program Director for the Farm & Wilderness Foundation, a 73 year old non-profit outdoor education organization. Sarah has also managed a comprehensive statewide campaign called Council on the Future of Vermont for the Vermont Council on Rural Development, has worked in the non-profit world in conservation, land use planning, and rural development, as well as for the Bureau of Land Management in Washington, DC. Born and raised in Glover, Vermont, Sarah earned her B.A. from Haverford College, and her M.A.A. from the University of Maryland. Although she has lived in various places on the East Coast and in the Rocky Mountains, Sarah is proud to call Vermont home.

Bethany Dunbar

Community Projects Coordinator:  Bethany M. Dunbar came to the Center for an Agricultural Economy in April 2014, and her role expanded in September.  She works on food access issues, education, and planning for the historic Atkins Field property owned by CAE.  These include working with the Hardwick Area Food Pantry, the Hardwick Community Gardens, and helping support Hardwick Elementary School's efforts to make the school a Sustainability Academy with its new Kitchen Classroom.  She grew up in Craftsbury and studied education at Lyndon State College.  Her background is in dairy farming, journalism and photography.  Most recently she worked as Managing Editor at the Chronicle, a weekly newspaper in Barton, where her specialty was covering agriculture, the local food movement, and human interest profiles.  She has won numerous awards for news writing and photography.  In 2012 her first book, Kingdom's Bounty, was published by Umbrage Editions.  It is a series of essays and photographs of farmers and food providers in Northeastern Vermont and serves as a guidebook.  She lives on a back road in West Glover and loves gardening, cooking, hiking, and horseback riding. 

 

Meet our Center for an Agricultural Economy Board:

Matthew Derr

A community organizer, teacher, fundraiser, and strategic planner, President Derr was inaugurated in 2012 as the eleventh president of Sterling College. Derr is nationally recognized in higher education for his expertise in leading institutional change and for strengthening mission-based focus. In 2011, President Derr was awarded a Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Chief Executive of the Year Award. At Sterling, President Derr led the effort to divest the Sterling endowment from fossil fuels and become only the third college in the United States to do so. After completion of a collaborative strategic planning process, President Derr directed the largest fundraising campaign in Sterling’s history, Nourish the Roots, and secured the institution’s first seven figure gifts. Among the early accomplishments of the campaign was the naming and completion of capital projects for the Rian Fried Center for Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems. Unusually for a college president today, Derr also fulfills a role as a faculty member and regularly teaches courses in community organizing.

Andy Kehler

Jasper Hill Farm/Cellars of Jasper Hill

Andy Kehler and his brother Mateo and their families have milked cows and made award-winning artisan cheese since 2002. They have also built a business model and infrastructure to age and market the cheese from other Vermont producers. The goals are both focused and broad: to produce cheeses of the highest quality from their own milk; to demonstrate that it is still possible to prosper on a rocky hillside farm; to create a vehicle for the renewal of the local dairy economy in the form of a business model that can be replicated on other dairy farms.

Andrew Meyer

Vermont Soy/Vermont Natural Coatings

The Vermont Soy Company had its first incarnation in 1996, when Todd Pinkham began making tempeh. In 2007, Andrew Meyer and Todd began making products again and have now brought VT Soy to a whole new level, with state-of-the-art equipment and facilities and the ability to market more products to more places. In 2006, Andrew began Vermont Natural Coatings. The company’s patented natural wood finish formula is an important advance over existing water-based finishes in application, quality, and environmental safety. The formulations use whey protein as the bonding agent. Whey is a renewable resource and a natural by-product of the dairy industry. This use of a natural product in the professional finishes translates to low VOCs (volatile organic compounds) – and better in-door air quality. Their market is green builders and LEED contractors as well as individual homeowners. Andrew’s family has an organic dairy farm in Hardwick and after being raised in VT he worked in D.C. as the agricultural advisor to Senator Jeffords for 7 years.

Linda Markin

Vermont Community Loan Fund

Linda Markin got her start in high finance doing payroll for an apple orchard in Vershire, Vermont.  She was too short to command a reasonable piece rate picking apples and found she was better suited to indoor work with numbers.  Currently she serves as Director of Finance and Administration at the Vermont Community Loan Fund.  Previously she was the CFO at Concept2, Inc. She has a BA from Dartmouth College, and received post-graduate training in finance and administration at St. Michael's College and the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.Lindahas a strong commitment to issues of social and economic justice and has been involved in organizations with social change missions since the mid 1980's. Currently she applies her business skills for CAE as Treasurer of the board and leads the Finance Committee for Vermont Works for Women. She lives in Hardwick, VT with her wife Marie, where she enjoys cycling, cross-country skiing, hiking and making connections between people who together can make a positive difference in the world

Pete Johnson

Pete’s Greens

Pete stated Pete’s Greens in 1995 growing primarily salad greens. He started gardening at a very early age and had his own thriving pumpkin business at the age of twelve. He now grows specialty vegetables of many types with an emphasis on baby greens, heirloom tomatoes, and root crops. Pete and his team sell to stores and restaurants throughout Vermont, as well as Boston and New York City. Recently he has focused on local sales direct to customers. In addition, Pete buys products from other farmers and producers and markets them through his “Localvore” Community Supported Agriculture shares.

Tom Gilbert

Highfields Center for Composting

Highfields began in 1999 and has been guided by Tom Gilbert since 2000. The organizations’ focus is on working to develop regenerative food systems through preservation and improvement of Vermont’s agricultural soils, watersheds, and agricultural economies through on-farm composting, organic materials recycling and soil health programs. They have offices in downtown Hardwick and a composting research and demonstration site outside of town. Highfields has many projects focused on soil and water health in addition to compost research and training. Highfields is a grant funded organization but also receives income from consulting services and selling compost.

Emily Maclure

Craftsbury General Store

Emily bought the Craftsbury General Store two years ago after a decade long career in restaurant management and event planning in Los Angeles.  Inspired by the community’s willingness to try new things, Emily pushed the envelope and expanded her grocery offerings to include an array of locally made products, as well as produce and meats from the store’s neighboring farms.  With the help of her fun loving staff, the store and deli business continues to grow.  A natural “people person,” Emily has loved becoming part of the Craftsbury community.  She is an active member of the Craftsbury Planning Commission, and recently created a platform in which to bring the Craftsbury businesses together.

Jon Ramsay

Vermont Land Trust

Jon grew up on his family’s dairy farm located in Greensboro.  Jon continues to manage the farm now raising Black Angus cattle for both breeding stock and beef, and pastured poultry. Jon is the Director of the Farmland Access Program at the Vermont Land Trust (VLT) focusing on farm affordability for new and beginning farmers statewide.  Prior to becoming the Director of the Farmland Access Program Jon worked in VLT’s stewardship program as an intern in 1998 and was hired fulltime June of 1999. Jon continued to work in stewardship at VLT until 2001 when he became the Agricultural Project Manager for VLT in the Champlain Valley office.  Between 2006 and 2009 he was VLT’s Agricultural Stewardship Manager working statewide.  Jon graduated from the University of Vermont in May 1999 with a B.S. degree in Natural Resources Ecology. Jon, his wife Selina and their son Jin live on the family farm, where they enjoy gardening, walking trips to Long Pond and enjoying Caspian Lake during the summer.

Paul Costello

Vermont Council on Rural Development

Paul Costello grew up in Burlington next to the cemetery where Ethan Allen is buried. He's the son of Judge Edward J. Costello from Rutland and Dorothy Wimett of Pittford,  After obtaining a BA in Psychology he worked for several years in human services then as a carpenter and rural jack of all trades living in Fairfield while he earned a PhD in intellectual history from McGill.  Paul has served as the Executive Director of the Vermont Council on Rural Development since 2000.  Paul believes that the Vermont working landscape is crucial to the future success of rural communities, to our sustainability as a state, and to the model Vermont offers to other parts of the country and world for creative and balanced rural development

 

Past Board Members

Warren Rankin

Linda Ramsdell

Johanna Laggis

Neil Urie

Tom Stearns

Annie Gaillard