The Future of Farm & Food Entrepreneurship

Presented by Windham Grows

Thursday, May 31st – Friday, June 1st, 2018

Downtown Brattleboro, Vermont

How can you create and grow a resilient food business that affects your community in a positive way, while supporting your family?

The Future of Farm & Food Entrepreneurship Summit 2018 focuses on growing conscious food and agriculture businesses, giving current and aspiring entrepreneurs the tools, resources, and mentorship needed to evolve businesses, create positive change in your community, and revolutionize the future of food.

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS

Click here for speaker bios

Philip Ackerman-Leist

Philip Ackerman-Leist

Professor of Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems at Green Mountain College

Philip Ackerman-Leist is Professor of Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems at Green Mountain College, where he established the college’s organic farm, sustainable agriculture curricula, and the first online graduate program in Sustainable Food Systems in the United States. He and his wife Erin live on a remote off-grid farm in Pawlet, Vermont with their three children, where they raise grassfed American Milking Devon cattle. His newest book is A Precautionary Tale: How One Small Town Banned Pesticides, Preserved its Food Heritage, and Inspired a Movement, published by Chelsea Green (November 2017). He is also the author of Rebuilding the Foodshed: How to Create Local, Sustainable, and Secure Food Systems and Up Tunket Road: The Education of a Modern Homesteader.
Chuck Collins

Chuck Collins

Senior Scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies

Chuck Collins is a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies where he co-edits Inequality.org. He is a leader in the transition movement in building economic and ecological community resilience and regular contributor to YES! Magazine. He is author of several books about inequality including Born on Third Base: A One Percenter Makes the Case for Tackling Inequality, Bringing Wealth Home, and Committing to the Common Good (Chelsea Green, 2016). He is co-author, with Bill Gates Sr., of Wealth and Our Commonwealth: Why American Should Tax Accumulated Fortunes. His previous books include, 99 to 1: How Wealth Inequality is Wrecking the World and What We Can Do About It. He is cofounder of Jamaica Plain New Economy Transition, a local transition town working to build community resilience. He is a father, cyclist, gardener, part-time Vermonter (Guilford), and anti-fossil fuel activist who mostly lives in Boston.
Charles Eisenstein

Charles Eisenstein

Author, Sacred Economics and The More Beautiful World our Hearts Know is Possible

Charles Eisenstein is a speaker and writer focusing on themes of human culture and identity. He is the author of several books, most recently Sacred Economics and The More Beautiful World our Hearts Know is Possible. His background includes a degree in mathematics and philosophy from Yale, a decade in Taiwan as a translator, and stints as a college instructor, a yoga teacher, and a construction worker. He currently writes and speaks full-time. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina with his wife and four children.

FEATURED SPEAKERS

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Roger Allbee

Roger Allbee

Former Vermont Secretary of Agriculture

Roger Allbee, Vermont’s former Secretary of Agriculture, has extensive senior management experience, a strong economics and financial background, and an ability to interact with officials at all levels of government and business. His major strengths lie in agricultural policy, finance, marketing, international trade, and strategic planning. Roger’s accomplishments include being an NGO representative to the Seattle Round of WTO multinational trade negotiations, serving as an appointed member of Vermont Governor’s Food Processing Facility Task Force, and entrepreneur in establishing foreign trade company, AGTEC, and new markets for food products in new emerging markets in Central Europe, and Asia.
Ibrahim Ali

Ibrahim Ali

Co-Director for Youth and Programs, Gardening The Community (GTC)

Ibrahim Ali is the Co-Director for Youth and Programs at GTC. He comes into this work with a extensive background in youth development, and has been involved with various aspects of food justice (through GTC) since returning to Springfield from NYC. He credits his initial knowledge of growing food to the Junior Staff of GTC (Mabeline, Qamaria, and Jacob), and has expanded his knowledge through trainings and workshops with Growing Power, Native Seed School, and Western Mass Master Gardeners Association. He has five amazing sons, enjoys traveling, and runs an independent record label.
Cathy Berry

Cathy Berry

Managing Director, Baldwin Investment Management, LLC

 
Cathy is one of the founders of Slow Money, focusing on investment in agriculture and local; slowing money down to the speed of nature! She is also one of the founders of BALLE; focusing on creating vibrant local business communities across the country. One of the founding Managing Directors of Baldwin Investment Management, lead investor in Vermont Smoke and Cure, and participant in other mission based companies in the US. She is an active participant in The Sandy River Charitable Foundation, which focuses its grant making locally to family members and partners with other NGOs to work internationally, helping people help themselves. Her family grew up in rural New England and much of the grant making and mission related investments focuses on rural America. Here in Vermont, she is a volunteer consultant to the Strolling of the Heifers Organization and Co-Chair of Two Rivers.
Nathanael Berry

Nathanael Berry

Program Director, The Sandy River Charitable Foundation

Nathanael Berry spent most of his formative years in rural New England and upstate New York - a significant portion in Maine's Western Mountains. He graduated from Syracuse University in 1985 with a degree in Computer Engineering, and worked for a computer company in Massachusetts until moving to Long Island in 1989. There, he worked in the computer communication and control system sectors prior to becoming Program Director and Chief Operating Officer for The Sandy River Charitable Foundation in 1997. Responsibilities for the Foundation include grant making, program related investments, and mission related investing.
Sam Buckley

Sam Buckley

VEDA Senior Commercial Loan Officer

Sam Buckley is a Senior Loan Officer in the Commercial Lending group at the Vermont Economic Development Authority. Prior to joining VEDA in December of 2015, he worked for the Vermont Community Loan Fund in Montpelier as the Director of Business Programs. Sam earned his BS in Applied Economics from Hofstra University and completed graduate coursework in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics at the University of Rhode Island. At VEDA, Sam reviews, analyzes and manages many of VEDA’s commercial loan accounts, specializing in energy loans. He enjoys spending time with his two sons as well as snowboarding, hiking and swimming.
Ingrid Chrisco

Ingrid Chrisco

Founding Owner True North Granola

Before launching True North Granola, Ingrid’s professional career spanned 44 years as a middle/high school teacher and middle school principal. When she retired from education, she felt a tremendous loss. Fortunately, she had started True North Granola as a “hobby” in her home 9 years earlier and her products received immediate jury approval at the local Farmers’ Market on first try. Starting with only one flavor, Go Nuts, True North now offers a range of products that meet a variety of nutritional and lifestyle needs. Appealing to those who want gluten-free or regular granola, nut-based or no nuts, vegan and a Paleo, and grain-free granola. From the beginning, True North Granola’s stated mission has been to support public education through product and financial donations. True North Granola has now grown to a specialty food business which relies on retail and wholesale accounts, generated from revenue from Farmers’ Markets, retail shops, food Co-Ops, natural food stores, school districts, hospitals, as well as other businesses, and online sales via our website (www.truenorthgranola.com) and Amazon.
Maggie Cohn

Maggie Cohn

Southeast New England Loan and Outreach Officer

Maggie represents the Cooperative Fund of New England in eastern Massachusetts, eastern Connecticut and Rhode Island. She previously served as executive director for community non-profits, including Mission Hill Health Movement, Boston Collaborative for Food & Fitness, and Mission Hill Main Streets. In the 1990s, she worked at Red Sun Press, a worker-controlled print shop in Boston. Maggie serves on the boards of the Back of the Hill Community Development Corporation and the Cooperative Development Institute. She is a member of Boston Building Resources, Harvest Cooperative Market, Dorchester Community Food Co-op and Urban Greens Food Co-op. She holds a BA in Studio Arts and an MS in Community Economic Development.
Sivan Cotel

Sivan Cotel

Co-Founder and Director of Operations, Stonecutter Spirits

 

Sivan Cotel is an experienced angel investor and craft spirits veteran focused on growing startups into businesses. He is currently the Co-Founder and Director of Operations for Stonecutter Spirits (Middlebury, Vermont), and was previously the COO and CFO of WhistlePig Whiskey (Shoreham, Vermont). Sivan has experience building and developing ideas from concept to fruition, and has also served as an independent business consultant helping new craft spirits companies develop their operational and business planning.

Sivan spent the first part of his career in financial services at Bear Stearns, J.P.Morgan, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch. He has made private angel investments in the consumer product goods, health technology, events, and value-added agriculture sectors.

Separately, Sivan is the Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors of Porter Medical Center, a non-profit hospital and health care system in Middlebury, Vermont. He is also a member of the Finance and Investment Committees of the University of Vermont Health Network, and a board member of the Green Mountain Secure Retirement Plan, Vermont’s first-in-the-nation multi-employer retirement plan for small businesses.

Greg Cox

Greg Cox

CEO & Board President, Vermont Farmers Food Center

Greg Cox, CEO & Board President of the Vermont Farmers Food Center is a local food system advocate and adjunct professor at Green Mountain College. He has been a fixture in Vermont agriculture for over 30 years, receiving awards for his innovative work and leadership with many agricultural organizations. His focus is to rebuild 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. He was honored to be chosen 2016 Business Person of the Year by the Rutland Chamber of Commerce, the first farmer to receive the award.
Hanna Flanders

Hanna Flanders

Co-founder of Kearsarge Food Hub; Director of Marketing and Outreach

Hanna Flanders is the co-founder of the Kearsarge Food Hub, a non-profit organization working to create greater access to local goods in the Kearsarge/Lake Sunapee region of central New Hampshire. Hanna studied Philosophy and Environmental Science and Policy at Smith College, where she realized that industrial food production methods are at the heart of most of the issues we face globally today, from climate change and environmental degradation to public health concerns and economic inequality. The Kearsarge Food Hub was formed collectively to begin tackling the hard yet necessary work of localizing food production to the greatest possible extent. Now in it’s 4th year, the Kearsarge Food Hub runs a year-round local food retail operation, Sweet Beet Market, where the team works to bridge the gap between producers and consumers by working with roughly 40 local farmers and producers to stock the shelves with fresh seasonal produce, fresh and frozen meat, dairy, baked goods, canned goods, arts, crafts and more. Other initiatives of the hub include local food education, minimizing food waste, food security, creating local food related job opportunities, wholesale local food distribution, and engaging the community on all things local. Hanna lives with her husband and two children in the Kearsarge region and is professionally and personally invested in creating community connections and building a robust and resilient food system for future generations.

Brendan Flannelly-King

Brendan Flannelly-King

Finance and Facilities Manager, Real Pickles Co-operative

Brendan is the Finance and Facilities Manager at Real Pickles Co-operative. Based in Greenfield, MA, Real Pickles is a small, worker co-operative producing 100% organic fermented foods with vegetables purchased from Northeast family farms. Brendan started working at Real Pickles in 2010 and was one of the 5 founding worker-owners who transitioned Real Pickles from a sole proprietorship to a co-operative in 2013. Real Pickles led a successful $500,000 community investment campaign to finance its transition, and has utilized debt and retained patronage to nearly double its sales over the past 5 years.
Severine von Tscharner Fleming

Severine von Tscharner Fleming

Founder and Board director of Greenhorns

Severine is a farmer, activist, and organizer based in Downeast Maine. She is director of Greenhorns, a grassroots organization with the mission to recruit, promote and support the rising generation of new farmers in America. Severine has spent the last decade gathering, bundling and broadcasting the voices and vision of young agrarians. Greenhorn produces many kinds of media, from documentary films to almanacs, anthologies, mix-tapes, posters, guidebooks and digital maps. They are best known the documentary film, “The Greenhorns” and the raucous young farmer mixers they've thrown in 37 states and 14 grange halls. Severine is co-founder and board secretary of Farm Hack, an online, open-source platform for appropriate and affordable farm tools and technologies. She serves on the board of the Schumacher Center for New Economics, which hosts Agrarian Trust, her latest startup, focused on land access for beginning farmers, and permanent protection of affordable organic farmland. Severine attended Pomona College and University of California at Berkeley, where she graduated with a B.S. in Conservation/ Agroecology.

Richard French

Richard French

Founder and CEO of Bagel Works Inc

Richard French is founder and CEO of Bagel Works Inc dba/The Works Bakery Cafe, a regional chain of bakery cafes located throughout Northern New England.Bagel Works Inc. has been featured on the Today Show, Vermont Public Television Venturing Series, Inc. magazine and many other Socially Responsible books, magazines, and publications.
Tom Furber

Tom Furber

General Manager, High Mowing Organic Seeds

Tom is responsible for the overall performance of High Mowing Organic Seeds. Prior to joining High Mowing in 2013, Tom worked with privately held or venture backed companies going through transition due to growth or a change in ownership. His strengths are assessing company fundamentals and aligning teams around performance metrics so companies can scale. He cares deeply about organic food and feels lucky to be at High Mowing.
Greg Georgaklis

Greg Georgaklis

Founder, Farmers to You

Greg Georgaklis has enjoyed a nearly 40-year career, as a farmer, horticulturist, business owner and advisor. Previous to founding Farmers To You, he owned and ran Gold Star Wholesale Nurseries. Headquartered in Lexington, MA, Gold Star was a $25m dollar regional grower, distributor and retailer of horticultural and landscape supplies. After selling Gold Star Wholesale Nurseries in 2007, Greg moved his family to central Vermont and immediately began working with the Organic and Sustainable farming community to advise and consult with individual farms and organizations looking for a clear and sustainable path to viability. After Greg’s key involvement with the Farm To Plate Strategic Plan for Vermont Agriculture, it became clear there was a need for better markets and relationships for rural farmers with urban families — and so Farmers To You was born in 2010. Seven years later Farmers To You has created a swelling community of families and farmers who feed and support each other.  Each week over 800 families place custom orders for products from over 80 regional partner farmers. Farmers To You gathers this food, packs it beautifully and carefully, and delivers it to 30 pickup sites in both the Boston Area and Central Vermont.  Greg’s goal is to develop this regional food system and then assist other regions to replicate what he and his team have done here in the Northeast. His dream is to reconnect families directly with their farmers and take back our food system with Farmers To You communities across the country.  By expanding regenerative and Biodynamic farming practices, this new-model food system will heal our families with healthy food and heal the Earth with conscious caring farming. Greg has served on many association boards at both the state and national level and is currently on the Board of the Biodynamic Farming Association.  He is regarded and sought out as an expert in many areas of farm production and sustainability, business management and organization.
Rachel Greenberger

Rachel Greenberger

Director, Food Sol at Babson College

Rachel teaches food entrepreneurship and directs Food Sol at Babson College, a platform for food entrepreneurs to gather, connect ideas, and build their ventures. Her writing has appeared in the Stanford Social Innovation Review and Boston Globe. The Economist and Financial Times have recognized Food Sol as a leader in food entrepreneurship education. Beyond Babson, Rachel advises her husband's Italian food-tourism company Food Stories Travel and is a Board Advisor to the Boston Public Market Association.

Bob Hausslein

Bob Hausslein

Founder, Sugar Bob's Finest Kind

Sugar Bob has been tapping trees in Windham County for years. He makes Smoked Maple Syrup, and with the acquisition of the Vermont Maple Sriracha brand has expanded into the value added specialty food space with business partner Andrea Ogden. Participating in Windham Grows has driven growth and creativity in their young, growing, and award winning company.
Brian Kaminer

Brian Kaminer

Founder of Talgra and Creator of Invest With Values

Brian Kaminer is the founder of Talgra and creator of Invest With Values. Talgra consults with people and organizations looking to align their money and values through sustainable, community and impact investments. Invest With Values is an educational website for investors learning to create positive change with their money and investments. Brian is an active impact investor. He serves on the boards of Gross National Happiness USA and Slow Money NYC.
Greg Kelly

Greg Kelly

Co-Founder and COO/CTO, Ceres Greens


Greg Kelly is a co-founder of Ceres Greens, a vertical farm growing leafy greens year-round, based in Barre, VT. Greg is a technologist and inventor, having been a founder or served as a senior executive in seven startup companies spanning forty years. Prior to starting Ceres Greens, Greg founded TelJet Longhaul, building a 1,200 mile fiber optic network in Vermont and New Hampshire. He holds a US patent for the method of connecting TV viewers to topically related websites using a remote control. He serves on the board of directors for the Vermont Technology Alliance and the Flynn Theatre for the Performing Arts and is a member of the VT ESPCoR Internal Steering Committee.
Raymond Lanza-Weil

Raymond Lanza-Weil

Director of Business Programs, Vermont Community Loan Fund

Raymond is responsible for all aspects of the Loan Fund’s business loan and advisory programs. Raymond previously served as the Loan Fund Program Manager at Goodwill Industries International. Before that, he was a Senior Vice President and Senior Financial Institutions Analyst at CARS, the CDFI Assessment and Ratings System (now Aeris Insight). Raymond is a long-time business lender with tenures at banks, state government programs, and community development loan funds. He has founded a small business, launched a nonprofit theatre company, and served on the boards of nonprofit arts organizations and a variety of grant review committees.The Vermont Community Loan Fund is a mission-driven, community-focused alternative lender. We make loans to Vermont businesses, community organizations, child care providers, and affordable housing developers that don’t qualify for conventional financing; we provide financial consulting and business advisory services to make sure our borrowers have access to all the tools they need to succeed. The money we lend is loaned to us by hundreds of investors – individuals & families, federal & state governments, faith-based groups, foundations, banks – who demand a social, “community” return along with a financial return. VCLF has loaned $100 million in Vermont since 1987.
Nadav Malin

Nadav Malin

President, BuildingGreen

Nadav Malin is president of Brattleboro, Vermont-based BuildingGreen, a leading consultancy and information provider in the world of sustainable, healthy, and resilient buildings. He leads trainings and facilitates workshops for architecture firms, NGOs, and corporate real estate groups, and consults on better material choices for the built environment.
Kate Whelley McCabe

Kate Whelley McCabe

Chief Executive Officer, Vermont Evaporator Company

Kate Whelley McCabe is the Chief Executive Officer of Vermont Evaporator Company, which she founded with her husband, Justin McCabe, in 2015. Vermont Evaporator Company manufactures and sells affordable, portable backyard sap evaporators for hobby maple sugar makers. Vermont Evaporator Company products are enjoyed by families, on farms and in neighborhoods and schools west to Wisconsin, south to Kentucky, and all over the Midwest, New England and Canada. Before taking on this role, Kate managed large legal projects as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Vermont. As a member of the Public Protection Division, Kate’s primary responsibility was developing, implementing and enforcing regulatory schemes governing the provision of consumer goods and services, including agricultural products, in Vermont and across the country. Kate studied English and Economics at Wellesley College, Law at The George Washington School of Law, and Nonprofit Management at Marlboro College. Kate sits on the Boards of the Vermont River Conservancy and Community Capital of Vermont, volunteers for several hunger-relief related nonprofits and is active in politics. Kate lives on ten acres in Montpelier with her husband, two children, a springer spaniel, twelve laying hens, and a rooster named Walter.
Brad McNamara

Brad McNamara

CEO and Co-Founder, Freight Farms, Inc.

Mr. McNamara is the Co-Founder and CEO of Freight Farms, Inc., an agricultural technology company that creates tools for a more sustainable and connected food system. Mr. McNamara and his co-founder developed the company's flagship product, the Leafy Green Machine, to allow any business to grow a high-volume of fresh produce in any environment regardless of the climate. Using his background in sustainability and business, Mr. McNamara is determined to make fresh food locally accessible anywhere on the globe. Prior to founding Freight Farms, Mr. McNamara was the founder & CEO of Impakt Marketing Solutions, INC. a marketing firm focused on sales driven marketing programs for large CPG customers like Anheuser Busch, InBev USA and national consumer brands like Converse. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Mr. McNamara gained valuable experience in the radio industry working on the "Matty in the Morning" Show at KISS 108 in Boston, MA. He started as an intern before earning a coveted full time "on-air" position while still a college student appearing every morning to an audience of millions of listeners.
R.W. “Eli” Moulton, III, Esq.,

R.W. “Eli” Moulton, III, Esq.,

The Moulton Law Group

Eli, a Vermont native, has been an attorney in Vermont for 18 years. Before launching his own practice, The Moulton Law Group (MLG) in 2016, Eli was a partner at a well-known corporate law firm in Burlington, Vermont. The Moulton Law Group is a boutique law firm that focuses on advising business clients and entrepreneurs on a wide range of business legal needs, including financing transactions, private offerings, venture capital, angel investment, slow money/social investing, crowdfunding, business acquisitions, employment matters, equity compensation, intellectual property and general contract and business matters. MLG often acts as a “general counsel” for businesses that are too small to justify the cost and expense of hiring a dedicated in-house counsel. Eli has been prominent in the “Slow Money” and “invest local” movements, being referred to as the “go-to guy” for creative financing in Amy Cortese’s book “Localvesting.” Working with regulators at the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation, Eli has been instrumental in helping to update securities laws and regulations to facilitate raising capital, and was directly involved in recent advancements to the Vermont Small Business Offering exemption (VSBO) and SUN Exemption. Eli also served/serves on the Boards of several non-profit organizations, including The Sarah Holbrook Center, the Intervale Center and The Initiative For Local Capital, Inc. When Eli isn’t working, he enjoys skiing, golfing, woodworking, working on his house, traveling and enjoying time with his wife and two daughters.
Joel Moyer

Joel Moyer

Manager of the Fair Food Fund

Joel Moyer manages the Fair Food Fund, an innovative Fair Food Network program that provides financing and business assistance to good food enterprises that connect small and mid-size farms with consumers hungry for local, sustainably grown food. As Manager, Joel seeks out businesses interested in financing and determines their alignment with the Fund’s goals of supporting farms in the Northeast, promoting environmental sustainability, sparking local economic development, and increasing access to locally grown food. Joel is responsible for the day-to-day management of the fund’s investment portfolio and handles due diligence of potential investment opportunities. He also supports the Fair Food Fund’s annual Business Boot Camp. Joel has an MBA in Sustainability from Antioch University New England, where he focused on impact investing, community capital, and leveraging the positive attributes of capitalism for good.
Bart Nagel

Bart Nagel

Garlic Grower and Founder at Bulbs of Fire

Bart Nagel is a Dutch writer and (business) journalist who moved to Canada in 2006 with the intention to settle and live a more self sustaining life. Bart and his wife Simone found a 1881 farm house on a ten acre homestead parcel just North of Penetanguishene, near the shores of Georgian Bay. Bart started raising chickens and grew a large vegetable garden, providing much of the food needed. One of those vegetables was garlic, an absolute must ingredient in Bart’s cooking. It didn’t take long before hens produced too many eggs and customers dropped by to buy them. And when those egg buyers noticed the drying garlic hanging of the porch, requests started coming in to buy garlic. In 2011, Bart decided to grow ‘a little bit’ more garlic. Now his farm Bulbs of Fire grows over 40 different strains of garlic, producing 40-50,000 heads annually. Bulbs of Fire is a regular at garlic festivals and farmers markets in the region, with a retail line of Smoked Garlic Condiments and Black Garlic Jam.
Alan Newman

Alan Newman

Founder of Seventh Generation, Magic Hat, and Alchemy & Science

Alan Newman is currently re-imaging life in (his version of) retirement after 20+ years building businesses – first as the founder of Seventh Generation in 1988, followed by co-founder of Magic Hat in 1993, then as the co-founder of Alchemy & Science, a whole owned but independently operating division of Boston Beer with the mission of increasing awareness of craft brewed beers. In the five years as head of that division, Alan helped start local breweries in Los Angeles, Miami and New York. Alan currently is a partner in Higher Ground Music, a shareholder and advisor to the Burlington Record Plant, as well as shareholder and board chair of a new “cricket farming” business as well as being a partner in a real estate development project in Middlesex, VT.
Didi Pershouse

Didi Pershouse

Founder, Center for Sustainable Medicine

Didi Pershouse is the author of The Ecology of Care: Medicine, Agriculture, Money, and the Quiet Power of Human and Microbial Communities as well as Understanding Soil Health and Watershed Function: A Teacher's Manual. As the founder of the Center for Sustainable Medicine, she developed a practice and theoretical framework for systems-based ecological medicine—restoring health to people as well as the environmental and social systems around them. After 22 years of clinical work with patients, Pershouse now travels widely: writing, teaching, and developing learning resources with the Soil Carbon Coalition, the USDA Southern Plains Climate Hub and other organizations. Her workshops and activities engage farmers, schools, and watershed groups in opportunities to improve soil health, public health, and climate resiliency through changes in land management. She does consulting, and facilitates retreats and peer-support groups, for leaders in social and environmental change. You can learn more about her work at www.didipershouse.com
Howard Prussack

Howard Prussack

Co-Owner, High Meadows Farm

Howard Prussack began working on one of the states early organic farms in 1971 in Westminster West. In 1973 he took over the lease and started his own venture which became Vermont's first certified organic farm in 1976. He was a cofounder of the Brattleboro Farmers Market in 1974. In 1979 he purchased a nearby farm and moved the operation over and continued to expand the business by adding a large greenhouse and opening a farmstand in Brattleboro which grew until 1989 when it was sold. Howard was married in 1997 and along with his wife Lisa continued to expand the business and added many greenhouses and modernized the barns, field equipment and techniques. They now deliver potted herbs, spring veggie starts, and produce to stores in 4 states including many coops, garden centers and 36 Whole Foods markets. Last year they employed 19 local men and women to help on the farm. Howard and Lisa strive to be good stewards of the land and the history of our small town while creating good paying jobs and fulfilling work for our crew. They are pleased to have grown their farm into local source of pride while making a living doing what they love!
Louisa Schibli

Louisa Schibli

Co-founder, Milk Money VT

Louisa is an entrepreneur who thrives on the ability to find creative solutions to any problem. After developing several websites tailored to local living, Louisa drew on that experience and her passion for technology and all things local to co-found Milk Money VT, Vermont’s first “invest local” equity crowd-investing platform. She brings her energy and enthusiasm to her many passions whether it's volunteering, technology, photography, Vermont or a variety of sports.
Judith D. Schwartz

Judith D. Schwartz

Author, Cows Save the Planet and Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth

Judith D. Schwartz is a widely published journalist and the author of Cows Save the Planet and Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth (Chelsea Green Publishing) and Water In Plain Sight: Hope for a Thirsty World (St. Martin’s Press). She speaks nationally and internationally about soil-water-climate connections and solutions, most recently in Canada, Mexico, France, Norway and Switzerland. She is writing a new book on the ecosystem restoration/regenerative agriculture movement (i.e., “let’s restore the world already”). She is based across the mountain in Bennington, Vermont.
Ridge Shinn

Ridge Shinn

Founder and CEO of Big Picture Beef

Ridge Shinn is the founder and CEO of Big Picture Beef and a leader in the shift away from feedlot beef to 100% grass-fed – no corn ever – using regenerative pasture and grazing management that sequesters carbon. Big Picture Beef is currently working with more than 50 small farms in the region to provide Northeast customers (stores, restaurants, and institutions) with Northeast grass-fed beef. An experienced cattleman, Shinn has consulted all over the US, and in New Zealand, Uruguay, and Argentina on beef production and ecosystem restoration through grazing. His work has been recognized in Time Magazine, Atlantic Monthly, New York Times, Wine Spectator, and Smithsonian.
Janice St. Onge

Janice St. Onge

President, Flexible Capital Fund, L3C

Janice St. Onge, President, Flexible Capital Fund, L3C (the “Flex Fund”), a mission focused fund providing risk capital to growing companies in Vermont’s food system, forestry and clean technology markets. Janice brings a 20+ years of experience in management, technical assistance and financing. As President of the Flex Fund, Janice manages day-to-day operational activities including identifying deal flow, due diligence, investment structure and portfolio / financial management. Janice has 9 years of experience at Peoples Bank in retail management, commercial real estate lending, credit analysis and organizational development. Janice also served as the Director of the Vermont Business Center (VBC) at the University of Vermont, and Technology Business Development Director for the Vermont Department of Economic Development. She received the 2001 National Tibbetts Award in recognition for her outreach work with the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program in Vermont. Janice is a graduate of the University of Utah with a B.A. in Marketing. Janice currently serves on the Vermont Small Business Development Center Advisory Board, the Clean Energy Development Fund Board, and the Slow Money Vermont Organizing Committee. A Stowe, Vermont resident, Janice was co-founder of the Stowe Energy and Climate Action Network and a former International Ski Federation (FIS) World Cup Freestyle Skiing Judge.
Steve Swanson

Steve Swanson

Co-Founder, Flourish Farm

Steve Swanson is the co-founder, along with his wife Jen, of Flourish Farm, the first cricket farm in Vermont. After the birth of their first child, Steve and Jen began researching food production and quickly realized that the system was broken. They then came across a report released by the UN in 2013 (Edible Insects, Future Prospects for Food and Feed Security) and thus began their experiment with edible insects, specifically crickets. They are currently settling in to their new facility in Williston.

Alex Wilson

Alex Wilson

President, Resilient Design Institute and Founder, BuildingGreen

Alex Wilson is president of the Resilient Design Institute and founder of BuildingGreen, both based in Brattleboro, Vermont. He is a widely published writer on topics of energy, building technology, and the environment. When he’s not tapping away on his laptop, he’s likely to be working on the Dummerston farm that he and his wife are working to bring back into production. Enhancing the organic content of those soils is a top priority for him.
Orly Munzing

Orly Munzing

Founder & Executive Director, Strolling of the Heifers

Orly is the founder and executive director of Strolling of the Heifers. Previously, she served as a learning specialist with the Windham Central Supervisory Union for 24 years. She has a BA in Psychology and Education from Boston University, and Master of Education degree in Psychology and Special Education from Keene State College. She also built a profitable private consulting business, training teachers in cutting-edge educational techniques. Drawing on this background, she gathered a group of volunteers in 2001 to help focus attention on the difficulties of small family farms in the Brattleboro region. Building an organization with no startup funding, under Orly’s leadership they organized the first annual Strolling of the Heifers in 2002. Orly attracted corporate sponsorships ranging from national brands to local businesses, and with the growth in the local foods movement since then, “the Stroll” has expanded to a full weekend which is annually rated one of Vermont’s Top Ten Summer Events (and was rated one of America’s Top 10 Summer Festivals in 2013, and one of North America’s Top 100 Events in 2014). Over the years, Strolling of the Heifers also launched educational programs, a microloan fund, and farm internship program for youth, which are now all carried on by other organizations; the farm/food business planning competition; the Locavore Index; and now the Farm/Food Innovation Center at the River Garden. Orly was named the Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce Person of the Year in 2010, and in 2013 she received the Vermont Community Leadership Award from the Vermont Council on Rural Development. Under Orly’s leadership, in 2006 Strolling of the Heifers received the Harvest Wave of the Future Award from Glynwood.
Jim Verzino

Jim Verzino

Director and Entrepreneur-in-Residence

Jim is the Director and Entrepreneur in Residence of Windham Grows, a business accelerator that was created by the Strolling of the Heifers and is designed to nurture the next generation of innovative food and agriculture entrepreneurs in southern Vermont. Prior to running Windham Grows Jim co-founded and successfully exited three socially responsible businesses focused on energy and waste management automation systems, and workforce development. As a co-founder of Ruralogic, a "re-shoring" firm created to counter the trend in outsourcing US jobs to third world countries, Jim helped bring 2,900 high-tech jobs to rural Louisiana and Pennsylvania that would have otherwise gone overseas.
Cairn Cross

Cairn Cross

Co-Founder and Managing Director, FreshTracks Capital


Cairn Cross is a co-founder of FreshTracks Capital in Shelburne, Vermont, and serves as a managing director of the Fund.  He serves on the boards of FreshTracks portfolio companies Vermont Teddy Bear, NativeEnergy, Faraday, Budnitz Bicyles and Mamava. Prior to starting FreshTracks Cairn was a strategic and financial adviser to Vermont banks and growth businesses, the assistant general manager of Green Mountain Capital, L.P. from 1996 to 1998, and spent a decade working as a commercial banker. In 2014 he created Road Pitch — a four day motorcycle tour around Vermont bringing investors and entrepreneurs to seven towns to listen to entrepreneurs pitch their ideas. He is a former member of the Vermont Board of Public Accountancy and was formerly a director and vice chairman of Opportunities Credit Union and formerly a director of the Vermont Community Loan Fund. In 2011, the United States Small Business Administration named Cairn its Vermont, New England and National Financial Services Champion. He earned a B.S. (1981) from Montana State University and an MBA (1987) from New Hampshire College (now Southern New Hampshire University). He received a graduate certificate from the Stonier Graduate School of Banking in 1995.
Stephen Dotson

Stephen Dotson

Slow Living Summit Manager

Stephen Dotson's background ranges from producing journalism and documentaries, to starting museums and breweries, and a lot of activism and nonprofit work in-between. He is dedicated to fostering resilience and rural community empowerment, systems thinking, organizing strategically around watersheds, and a “triple-bottom line” business ethic. He enjoys climbing mountains, both real and metaphoric, and views climate change as the Mt. Everest of crisis and opportunity, especially for rural communities. The only available future is resilient, regenerative, circular, equitable, diverse, and overdue. He grew-up in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia, but is proud to now call Westminster West home, along with his wife and a small menagerie of animals.
Abby Sutton

Abby Sutton

Strolling of the Heifers Intern

Abby Sutton has been an intern at the Strolling of the Heifers since January 2017. She does administrative work and event planning, including assisting with the Slow Living Summit. Abby currently studies Environmental Science at Greenfield Community College, with plans to transfer to a four-year college for a bachelor’s degree. She lives in Guilford, Vermont with her partner, and their chickens, horses, and cat.

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Come and discover Brattleboro!

The Summit takes place in the non-traditional conference surroundings of Main Street, Brattleboro — a small community in southern Vermont, long renowned for its commitment to healthy, local, sustainable living and technology, for its vibrant communities of visual and performance artists, craftspeople, poets and writers, and for the diversity of its shops, restaurants and galleries. In turn Brattleboro is a gateway to the Green Mountains and Vermont.

Strolling of the Heifers, the organizer of the Summit, is a non-profit organization based in Brattleboro, with the mission of supporting

and sustaining family farms and local food systems by connecting people with healthy local food. We do this through a variety of year-round programs. Best known is our annual Strolling of the Heifers Parade and Slow Living Expo, which takes place during “Stroll Weekend” immediately after the Summit. We also organize a Vermont Farm/Food Business Planning Competition, and we publish the annual Locavore Index ranking the 50 states in terms of their commitment to local food, and other projects and events.

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About Strolling of the Heifers

Strolling of the Heifers, the organizer of the Summit, is a non-profit organization based in Brattleboro, with the mission of supporting and sustaining family farms and local food systems by connecting people with healthy local food. We do this through a variety of year-round programs. Best known is our annual Strolling of the Heifers Parade and Slow Living Expo, which takes place during “Stroll Weekend” immediately after the Summit. We also organize a Vermont Farm/Food Business Planning Competition, and we publish the annual Locavore Index ranking the 50 states in terms of their commitment to local food, and other projects and events.

In a major new initiative to further our mission, in November 2013 we acquired a prominently-located downtown Brattleboro building, the Robert H. Gibson River Garden (where Summit lunches and receptions take place), which has 4500 square foot of open space used since 2001 for public events, performances, lectures and exhibits. Under our stewardship of this community resource, we plan to maintain the public uses of the building, but also to create exhibits and programming that are related to our own focus areas of local food, food systems, and healthy sustainable living — a Farm/Food Education Center.

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Photo credits

Brattleboro Rainbow: photo by Craig S. O’Connell, used under Creative Commons License

Apple: Photo by Rick Payette, Used under Creative Commons License