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 Wellness 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.


Livy Bulger (she/her)  Project Manager  [email protected]

Livy comes to VFFC with a well established background in agriculture and education, having worked on various production farms in Maine and Vermont after studying environmental studies and food systems at the University of Vermont. Alongside small scale organic vegetable and poultry production, she has experience running a food hub, establishing and running a farm to school program for Lamoille county public schools as well as event, education and community building work for NOFA-VT. In addition to her work with VFFC's special projects, she works for Champlain Valley School District running their community mentor program for 5-8th graders at Hinesburg Community School. Livy lives in Hinesburg with her husband and sweet pup, Pepper, and spends her free time walking in the woods, swimming in rivers and lakes and cooking up lots of good food with her community.

Julia Anderson (she/hers), Planning and Development, [email protected]

(Bio still germinating)









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.

Chris Keyser

Chris was born in Chelsea, VT.  He graduated from Proctor JR SR High School and Tufts University.  Chris moved back to Proctor, VT in 1979 where he raised his family of two daughters and a son.  He purchased Proctor Coal Co at that time. Over the next 40 years Chris expanded the business to Keyser Energy with 35 employees operating in two states.  He has served as chair of the Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce, Rutland Economic Development Corporation, The Killington Music Festival, Rutland City Rotary, Vermont Fuel Dealers Association, New England Fuel Institute, Vermont Economic Progress Council, Rutland Mental Health Services, among others.  Other interests include golf, skiing, hunting and woodworking. He and his wife, Jane are now retired from structured jobs and living in Rutland.



Brianna Schneider

Brianna is passionate about supporting and growing our local economic stimulus, reducing our environmental impact, and the local food system throughout the Rutland region. The Vermont Farmers Food Center has allowed her to align these core values. Brianna has experience in abetting in the creation, implementation and launch of a cooperate podcast, co-branding marketing strategies for large organizations, and business development. Brianna currently works for a local non-profit in the Rutland area. She believes that while you make a living by what you get, you make a life by what you give. 

Brianna is a member of Rutland City Rotary Club, involved in youth-based volunteer activities in the community, and various other community-based volunteer groups. In her spare time, you can expect to find her finding any reason to be outside and active, and chasing every opportunity to learn and grow.


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.

Mary Ashcroft

Mary is a Vermont-licensed lawyer with experience as a solo practitioner in family, environmental and real estate law. She currently manages low bono and pro bono programs for the Vermont Bar Association, and co-facilitates the VBA/Vermont Law School New Lawyer Incubator Project. Mary lives on the Rutland Town farm which has been in her late husband Harold Billings’ family for over 200 years. As a farm wife and farm owner, Mary has been involved in farm and food sector issues for several decades. She has served on many state and local government and non-profit boards. She presently chairs the Rutland Town Select Board. Attorney Ashcroft brings legal, administrative, and fundraising expertise to the VFFC Board of Directors. When not volunteering as a guardian-ad-litem in court or singing in her church choir, Mary can be found searching for her elusive goats on her Creek Road farm.

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.