The Women’s Agricultural Network has a rotating slate of bloggers who bring you a variety of perspectives on topics pertaining to women, food, and agriculture.
Regular contributors to our blog include:
Linda Berlin has been with the University of Vermont since 1992, when she began coordinating a federally funded nutrition education program for underserved families (“EFNEP”). In 1999, she moved into a faculty position with the UVM Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences, at which time her role shifted to include broader involvement in food and food systems issues. In March 2009 she became half-time Director of the UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture, and also continues as an Extension faculty member focused on food systems. She has chaired boards for two Burlington-based non-profits (Friends of Burlington Gardens; Vermont Campaign to End Childhood Hunger), and recently completed a three-year term on the board for the national Society for Nutrition Education. She currently co-facilitates the Vermont Sustainable Agriculture Council and is a member of the Governor’s Commission on Hunger and the Chittenden County Hunger Council.
Jennifer Colby is Pasture Program Coordinator at the UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture. Jenn joined the Center in 2005, after ten years working in organic dairy and environmental project management. She strives on a daily basis to blend her passions for grass-based farming, home-grown BBQ, community development, martial arts, music and pottery. She raises sheep, poultry and pigs in East Randolph, and has a shared farming arrangement with family in Randolph Center. Jenn has a B.S. in Animal Science from UVM and was awarded an MS in Community Development and Applied Economics in December 2011 after working on a thesis focusing on the impacts of grass-based livestock farms on Vermont’s quality of life.
Debra Heleba has been the Vermont coordinator for the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NE-SARE) Program program since 2007, where she provides outreach about this USDA competitive grants program as well as organizes train-the-trainer activities on sustainable agriculture. Deb has been at the University of Vermont Extension since 1990, where she has worked on a number of research and extension projects, among them tree fruit research and family farm succession education. She was a founding staff member of the Women’s Agricultural Network and University of Vermont Center for Sustainable Agriculture, where she developed new and beginning farmer programming, including Land Link Vermont. In 2008 she joined the staff of UVM Extension’s NW Crops and Soils Team where she coordinates the certified organic dairy content for eOrganic, a national effort to provide online information and resources to farmers, educators, and the public.
Beth Holtzman, outreach education coordinator for the Women’s Agricultural Network and the New Farmer Project. An instructor for WAgN beginning farmer classes and workshops, Beth has been working with farmers on business planning and marketing since 2004, and has been involved in sustainable agriculture outreach, education and advocacy since 1992. Beth can often be found outdoors with her family — skis or snowshoes in the winter, or riding, hiking or in the garden in the summer.
Liz Kenton is coordinator of the Youth Agriculture Program of University of Vermont Extension 4-H, which helps young people build life and job skills through hands-on learning about food, nutrition and agriculture. Each year, the program works with hundreds of youth and donates thousands of pounds of fresh produce from its farm to local food shelves every year.
Kristen Mullins coordinates the Youth Farm Safety Project at UVM Extension 4-H. Her focus is on identifying farm safety issues specific to smaller, diversified farms, and using that information to create educational resources and curricula for youth – including an online farm safety training site for youth 11-15 years old. The project will begin to offer safety days and camps in 2012. Mullins previously worked for Vermont Works for Women where she was responsible for directing workforce development programs for women and girls. She has a background in program development, anti-violence education, and facilitator training – as well as working on a small dairy in Addison County throughout her adolescence.
Londa (Vanderwal) Nwadike, Extension Food Safety Specialist, works with food processors throughout Vermont to improve the safety of their products, particularly meats and other small- scale processed food products. She also assists maple producers to meet food safety requirements and provides general support to strengthen the safety of other foods produced and processed in Vermont. Londa grew up on a diversified family farm in eastern South Dakota. She worked in food safety for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), based in Rome, Italy for 5 years, and also has extensive experience living and working in Africa.
Mary Peabody, director of the Women’s Agricultural Network, as well as the UVM Extension Specialist in Community Resources and Economic Development. She is a regular instructor for beginning farmer classes and a variety of workshop topics on business planning, marketing and labor management. She also offers several online classes each year. Mary’s passions include growing things—both plants and animals, learning new skills, traveling, and teaching.
Jessie Schmidt, program support coordinator for the New Farmer Project and other community and agriculture related programs at UVM Extension. Jessie spent most of her youth dreaming of becoming a farmer and all of her adult life supporting the efforts of farmers. For the last 8 years, Jessie managed the Capital City Farmers Market in Montpelier. Previous to that she worked on farms, developed retail markets for farmers, and administered education and certification programs for organic farmers. At home, Jessie raises produce, chicken, eggs and pork for her family and plays with her kids.
Kirsten Workman, UVM Extension agronomy outreach professional with the Champlain Valley Crop, Soil & Pasture Team, works with farmers to implement practices to improve crop production and protect water quality. She started her career in Washington State working for the Mason Conservation District and Washington State University Extension. After 10 years of working with West Coast farmers, she joined the UVM Extension staff in 2011, and hopes to provide practical information that farmers value. She helps farmers prepare and implement practical and comprehensive nutrient management plans. She also helps farmers access cost-share funding to implement Best Management Practices on their farms. Kirsten lives in the Winooski watershed with her husband and two young children, Johnny & Ruby. She enjoys exploring her new home state of Vermont with her family and is excited to have access to some prime Vermont farmland, where she can get some larger livestock than she was able to raise in the temperate rainforest of Washington State.