Staff

Heidi Lynch (she/her) Executive Director - [email protected] 

Heidi is passionate about growing community resiliency through spaces that reconnect people and food. She grew up in Rutland,  worked on small farms throughout Vermont and abroad, and began volunteering with VFFC in 2012. Heidi founded and led VFFC’s Farmacy Project from 2014-2019, and began serving as  VFFC's Operations Director in 2020 when staff and programming grew significantly in response to community food needs. In 2022, Heidi was appointed VFFC's first Executive Director.  She holds a BA in Art and Global Studies from Saint Michael’s College and worked for Antioch Education Abroad in India for several years before returning home to Vermont. Most days Heidi can be found hiking, snowboarding or gardening with her family here in the Green Mountains.  


Emma Hileman (she/her)  Program Director - [email protected] 

Emma originally found her love of good homegrown food growing up in the blue ridge mountains of southwestern Virginia and tending to the family garden - in her years at Ithaca College her love and interest in local food flourished. Emma became involved with the Vermont Farmers Food Center and the Farmacy Project while finishing up her master's degree in macro social work with Boston University after she made the green mountains her home in 2018. She has spent time as a crew leader on farms in upstate New York and western North Carolina and received her bachelor’s in Environmental Studies. As a board member of the Rutland Free Clinic and a health coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition her focus is to make preventative healthcare a priority for Rutland county using food as medicine. As program director she strives to find all the ways in which local, healthy food can become a part of the everyday lives of Vermonters. Emma is also a lover of the outdoors and can be found in her free time hiking in the white mountains of New Hampshire, kayaking on many a Vermont lake or tending to her community garden plot in Ludlow, Vermont.


Melinda Laben-Hardt (she/her)  Procurement Specialist  [email protected] 

Melinda believes wholeheartedly in the power of building local communities, micro food systems, and sustainable agriculture. She grew up on a small family dairy farm in Western New York, where her love for all things 'farm' was first cultivated. She earned a B.S. in Recreation, Adventure Travel and Ecotourism from Paul Smith's College, then spent her 20's working at various Outdoor, Environmental and Farm education centers throughout the country. Moving to Vermont in 2011, she pursued work in the recreation and the animal health industry, finally becoming part of  the Vermont Farmer Food Center team in 2018. Melinda ran the FaBEL education program at  VFFC until 2022, at which point she switched roles to Procurement Specialist. Her job revolves around the details to connect growers to buyers, and keeping all the moving parts in order. In her spare time she owns and runs an instructional archery business, Aim for Archery. She lives in Salisbury Vermont, with her husband Josh Hardt, and their 3 sons, River, Leif and Nolan, where they manage a 36 acre farmstead, growing much of their own produce and raising pigs, turkeys, chickens, ducks and various other critters.


Tracy Weatherhogg (she/her)  Facilities and Fulfillment Manager - [email protected] 

Tracy began her relationship with VFFC in 2012 when she served the Grace Congregational UCC Church as Associate Minister and volunteered on Sunday afternoons helping to transform the vacated, industrial property into a viable facility. She continued as a volunteer when the Farmacy Project began in 2015. In the fall of 2019, she began to help with general operations. In April 2020, when COVID-19 shut down the indoor farmers market, Tracy helped to coordinate VFFC’s Online Market which began as a way for farmers and producers to continue to offer their local produce, meat, dairy, bakery, and specialty items to their customers in a safe and convenient way. The Online Market continues today. Currently, Tracy serves as VFFC’s Facilities and Fulfillment Manager providing oversight and management of VFFC’s campus grounds, facilities, and food distribution systems. Tracy enjoys bringing people together and helping to create community, especially when food is involved! Being a part of creating a food system that supports local farmers and brings more local food access to everyone is exciting and challenging, especially in these times. In addition to her work at VFFC, Tracy is the part-time pastor of the Pawlet Community Church, co-chair of the Rutland County Hunger Council, and a member of the Resource Development Committee of Rutland Co. Habitat for Humanity. She also participates in 350 Rutland and the Root Words project. Tracy enjoys hiking, kayaking, playing tennis, attending local sporting events, and spending time with her family.

 


Grace Davy (she/her)  Community Engagement Coordinator - [email protected] 

Grace manages the back end of Everyone Eats and on site meal distribution. She is also happy to be folding in more of her experience with food and cooking education into her work with Farmacy Project and Eat At Home. She loves talking about cooking and recipes with folks and giving out veggies. Grace is a home gardener and (very) amateur fruit grower. In her spare time she enjoys pulling invasive plants, doing crosswords, going for walks, and splurging on local cheeses. She also serves on the board of Companions in Wholeness and is always looking for new ways to get involved with her community.

 

Stephen Abatiell (he/him) - Project Manager - [email protected] 

One hundred years ago Stephen's great-grandfather helped build the Rutland of today working in the Lincoln Iron Works, long before the building housed the Vermont Farmers Food Center.  After years of teaching and conservation with non profits in the National Parks out west, Stephen is proud to be back home in Vermont with the VFFC, helping to build the Rutland of tomorrow.

 

 

 


 

 

Wayne Morrissey (he/him)  Bookkeeper  [email protected]

Wayne Morrissey grew up in North Providence Rhode Island and moved to Vermont in 1993. Wayne has been with the organization since 2017 as bookkeeper. He acquired an Associates Degree in 2019 in bookkeeping and accounting from the Community College of Vermont in Rutland. Wayne enjoys hiking and being outdoors and lives in Rutland with his wife, dog, and two cats.

 
 

Julia Anderson (she/her) Planning and Development Director [email protected]

Julia began volunteering at VFFC in 2018 and working here in 2020. She brings a unique blend of experience in land use and strategic planning, federal grant programs management and nonprofit grant writing, government and private sector work.

Since 1995, her work has conserved tens of thousands of acres of wildlife habitat and farmland. In addition to easements, she believes that farmland protection requires a robust local agricultural infrastructure as more farms transition away from conventional agriculture operations. Her experience enables Julia to bring practicality and passion to her efforts to help achieve a future where human and natural systems may thrive together, not compete against. 

Over her career, Julia has worked for The Nature Conservancy, American Farmland Trust, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board. As a volunteer, she imagined and established Quiet Trails for Quiet Parks International and was Quiet Trails’ first executive director. She served on the boards of the Bexley Natural Market Cooperative, OSU School of Natural Resources Alumni Society (president), and the Middlebury Area Land Trust (vice-president).

Julia has an undergraduate degree in Environmental Science and Land Use from Ohio State University with concurrent graduate work in City and Regional Planning. She enjoys thinking about human and natural systems while hiking quiet trails in Vermont.


Board

 

Greg Cox - President

Greg is a former building contractor, who has since become a local food system advocate. He has been a fixture in Vermont agriculture for over 30 years, receiving several statewide awards for his innovative work and has served in a leadership capacity with many agricultural organizations. He was one of the founders of Rutland Area Farm and Food Link (RAFFL), and was its inspirational leader and president for over nine years before becoming one of the founding members of the Vermont Farmers Food Center (VFFC), to focus on rebuilding the region’s agricultural infrastructure and developing a system of equitable access to local food. He owns Boardman Hill Farm which functions as a diversified farm and an educational facility, both training and incubating the next generation of farmers, where Greg and his family live in West Rutland. Greg received the Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce 2016 Business Person of the Year Award.

 

Ryan Yoder Vice President

Ryan grew up in Nepal, providing him a firsthand view of the emerging global ecological crisis, as well as strong opinions about sustainable living.  After obtaining a philosophy degree, Ryan spent over a decade in the field of experiential education, leading cultural immersion trips to India, wilderness therapy, and farm based education therapy.  Ryan now co-owns Yoder Farm with his Wife Rachel in Danby, VT.  They are committed to regenerative agricultural practices, deescalating the ecological and health crises, and expanding the calorie options available to local customers.  After several years on the VFFC board of directors Ryan is excited to see the organization maturing and stabilizing while it lays the foundation for Rutland's future food system.  He is honored to be a part of this endeavor.

 

In loving memory of Lisa Garson

Lisa served our board with vision, determination, and grace until she passed on from us in the fall of 2022.  Lisa served as a board member and secretary of VFFC since late 2018.  A part-time resident of Shrewsbury, Vermont, and New York City. Lisa and her husband Raymond were active participants in the Rutland and Vermont Farmers Markets for many years. Lisa spent most of her career in the fashion apparel business, where she held senior management positions in Operations for large multi-national brands.  For VFFC, she ran the Harvest Fest auction for 2 years, and wrote and won a successful grant application for VFFC prior to joining the board.  She brought extensive organizational and project management skills to the board, where she was engaged with the staff and other board members on a number of initiatives.  She enjoyed hiking, skiing, kayaking, cooking—was obsessed with tending her garden, and will be missed.
 

Scott Garren - Treasurer

Scott has been a full time resident of Shrewsbury, Vermont for the last 20 years. He has perviously served on the board of Directors for Spring Lake Ranch, Brookline PAX, Brookline Underground Railroad Committee, Brookline Sister City Committee and Treasurer at Pass It On Guatemala, as well as numerous political organizations. Scott holds a Bachelor of Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and
Johns Hopkins Data Science specialization.

For over 30 years, Scott has provided information technology solutions for clients.  He has worked with a multitude of libraries, schools, districts, and state departments of education to plan, design and implement effective computer and network systems.  He has also served as a project manager, and Director of Marketing for a number of IT companies and assisted Fortune 100 companies in developing worldwide voice and data networks. Scott is honored to be serving on the Vermont Farmers Food Center's board of directors, working at the local level to bring positive change to our communities.

 

 

Raymond DiPrinzio - Secretary  

Raymond A. DiPrinzio has or is serving in a variety of positions on several Non-Profit, educational or community boards for a diverse group of organizations including the Classic Stage Company (Executive Committee, Development Committee, Finance Committee); Christodora (inner city middle and high school environment education, leadership training, summer and school year programming), Cornell University Program on Infrastructure Policy (Advisory Board, Executive Committee); 327 CPW Board of Managers (condo board). 

Ray’s professional roles as an infrastructure banker provides him with expertise and decades of experience in evaluating a wide range of public use infrastructure projects (examples include environmental facilities including drinking water pipelines, waste water treatment plants, solid waste disposal facilities; hospital and educational facilities, intercity and intra city rail facilities; electric vehicle charging and micro grid infrastructure; district and campus heating facilities; airport terminals). Ray brings this expertise to VFFC in the areas of development, financial planning and budgeting  and infrastructure development. 

As a longtime (30+ years) part-time (and full time ) resident of Shrewsbury, where he owns a home with his late wife Lisa Garson and sons Harry and Charlie, he has been a strong supporter of VFFC and welcomes the opportunity to serve the diverse community of stakeholders throughout Rutland County in furtherance of VFFC’s important and crucial mission. 

 

 

Philip Ackerman-Leist 

Philip Ackerman-Leist is the co-founder and Executive Director of Regen by Design (RxD), a new online education and community-building platform focused on regenerative communities, with food and agriculture at the center. For two decades, Philip was Professor of Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems at Green Mountain College, where he established the college's 23-acre organic farm, designed and launched the undergraduate program in Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems, and founded and directed the nation’s first online graduate program in food systems.

Prior to launching RxD, Philip served as Dean of Professional Studies from at Sterling College in Vermont for two years, where he established the college’s first online educational initiatives and professional certificates. Philip and his family raise grass-fed American Milking Devon cattle at UpTunket Farm in Pawlet, Vermont. Philip is also the author of A Precautionary Tale: How One Small Town Banned Pesticides, Preserved its Food Heritage, and Inspired a Movement; Rebuilding the Foodshed: How to Create Local, Sustainable, and Secure Food Systems; and Up Tunket Road: The Education of a Modern Homesteader.  He believes the Vermont Farmers Food Center represents the future of local food systems in the US.

DeMetris Reed Jr.

Dr. DeMetris Reed, Jr. was born in Houston, Texas and raised in the small but growing rural town of Montgomery, Texas. He attended The Prairie View A&M University where he received his Bachelor of Science in Agriculture. His Master of Science degree was obtained at West Texas A&M University where he researched beef quality and yield on over 40,000 head of cattle while at the Beef Carcass Research Center in Canyon, Texas. Reed also served as the graduate assistant manager of the meat lab. He received his Ph.D. in Animal Science with emphasis in Meat Science at The North Dakota State University where he was also the Graduate Student Director of NDSU BBQ Boot Camp for two years and President of the Animal Science Graduate Student Organization. Currently, he is the Assistant Professor of Meat Science at Sul Ross State University. In his spare time, he enjoys going camping, cooking BBQ, and enjoying time with family & friends. Reed and his wife have two sons.

 

Ludy Biddle

Ludy is the recently retired Executive Director of the non-profit NeighborWorks of Western Vermont which has a mission of transitioning people from rental arrangements to home ownership. Ludy led NeighborWorks for 20 years after spending most of her career working in the arts. 

 

Meadow Squier

Meadow is a multigenerational farmer in Rutland County, currently operating Squier Family Farm with her husband and brother. She and her family have been part of VFFC since founding.Meadow has previously served stints on VFFC's board of directors and was one of the original farmer partners in VFFC’s Farmacy program. Meadow has been a volunteer advisory member in developing both VFFC's Online Market and Wholesale food program, as well as the Meat Processing Facility advisory committee. Meadow is ready to re-engage as an active Board Member and provide her perspective and expertise, as VFFC emerges into this next era of building out our campus expansion projects. 

 

Mary Hickey

Mary is a long time Rutland resident and advocate of community collaborations and relationship building. Mary is a member of VFFC's Farmacy Program and became a community leader at one of the housing sites that distributed Everyone Eats meals throughout the pandemic. Mary helped to coordinate distribution of meals and communication amongst residents and program managers. Mary has volunteered for VFFC in various roles over the years and she is excited to now be serving as a member of VFFC's board of directors. Mary feels VFFC has a lot of positive energy and momentum and wants to be part of the movement VFFC is building.  

Philip Prevosto

Philip Prevosto grew up in Baltimore, MD not on a farm but within a concrete jungle. He started working on farms outside of the Baltimore area at age 15, from vineyards to vegetable operations. Philip attended Green Mountain College studying Sustainable Agriculture until it's closure in 2019. Philip started working on farms in Rutland County in 2017. In 2021 he did an internship with VFFC's own Greg Cox and in 2022 started his own farm - "Tell A Tale Farm". Philip is the voice for young farmers, he currently runs Tell A Tale Farm which is located here in Rutland County where he grows organic fruit and vegetables. When Philip is not found in the field or in the greenhouse, he enjoys backpacking through the back country, or hitch hiking through the great American landscape.