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Vermont Housing and Conservation Board
58 E. State Street
Montpelier, Vermont 05602

The Vermont Housing and Conservation Board is a primary player in strengthening Vermont's food system. We run the Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program, which provides business planning and technical assistance services to Vermont farmers, along with providing grants to farmers looking to improve their dairy operations or water quality management. VHCB is involved with conservation easements, the new PES working group, and much more.


Name Title Phone
Laurie Ristino
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Professor Ristino joined the Vermont Law School faculty in 2013. She is the first director of the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems, responsible for CAFS vision and direction, including curriculum development, teaching, outreach, and advocacy. Before joining VLS, Professor Ristino was a senior counsel with the Office of the General Counsel, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Washington, D.C. for twenty years. At the USDA, she advised the Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Department on environmental and natural resources legal policy issues. She is an expert on the conservation title of the farm bill, and advised on the implementation of the 2002 and 2008 farm bills, as well as the run-up to the 2013 farm bill.
Rebecca Milaschewski
McKenna Hayes
(802) 578 1025
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I am a local and native Vermonter, pursuing my Master's degree in Food and Agricultural Law and Policy at Vermont Law School. My academic pursuits of environmental issues began at the University of Vermont (UVM), where I studied Public Communications, Economics, and Environmental Studies. Following graduation, I began work in varying sectors of the food industry. My most recent position was as Coordinator for the Responsible Retailing Department of AholdUSA, a national grocery retailer owning over 800 grocery stores under regional banners such as Stop & Shop, Giant, and Peapod. In this position, I learned about the inner workings of our conventional food system, and came to understand that this system is not sustainable on a global scale. To deepen my knowledge of the laws and policies that impact our food systems, I applied for and was accepted into the Vermont Law School’s (VLS) Masters of Food and Agricultural Law and Policy. I have nearly completed the degree requirements and will graduate in the fall. Throughout the course of my studies, my focus has been on strengthening the policies related to local food systems such as permitting, zoning, licensing, and land-use planning; all of which has prepared me for the role of Food Systems Coordinator. As a native Vermonter, I grew up with access to a diverse and robust local food system. However, for many communities the disconnect between what they eat and where it comes from has never been so wide. I am committed to developing innovative solutions to bridge this disconnect. I believe that the Farm to Plate Initiative and Strategic Plan is an innovative and inclusive approach to foster the sustainable growth of our local food systems. I am joining this network because I truly believe in the mission and goals of the Farm to Plate Initiative, and I want to be a part of the cutting-edge work and conversation taking place in our amazing state. I know I can greatly contribute to this conversation, but more importantly I want to learn from the diverse array of parties involved in this work and develop my perception of our local agricultural and food systems.
Sarah Seese
Lihlani Nelson
(802) 831-1063
Whitney Shields
Emily Spiegel
Laurie Beyranevand
Network Groups: Research
Sophia Kruszewski
(802) 831-1447
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Sophia Kruszewski is the Clinic Director at Vermont Law School's Center for Agriculture and Food Systems.The Food and Agriculture Clinic equips students with practical legal skills and a chance to engage in food system law and policy making. Student clinicians work with VLS faculty and local, regional, and national partners to research, develop, and disseminate legal resources for food system stakeholders, including farmers and food enterprises, farmworkers, administrators, legislators, and advocates. Sophia is an attorney and graduate of Vermont Law School, and returns to Vermont most recently following five years with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), where she focused on federal food and agriculture law and policy.
Network Groups: Research
Megan Fuerst
Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program Assistant (440) 667-7627
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After interning for the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, I was hired as Program Assistant to the Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program. Over the next four months, my primary responsibility will be covering for Liz Gleason while she is on maternity leave. This includes facilitating relationships between farm clients and service providers from our partner organizations, going on farm site visits, participating in Farm-to-Plate and other relevant meetings, and helping organize the National Farm Viability Conference with Ela.
Andrew Davis
Whitney Shields


  • Marketing
    • Marketing consultants
  • Farm Inputs
    • Support organization: Farm Inputs
  • Food Production
    • Support organization: Food Production
  • Food Processing or Manufacturing
    • Support organization: Food Processing or Manufacturing
  • Food Distribution or Storage
    • Support organization: Food Distribution or Storage
  • Business Planning and Technical Assistance
    • Access to capital
    • Accounting and taxes
    • Feasibility and planning
    • Human resources
    • Land access
    • Production / Processing technical assistance


Business planning, cash flow/enterprise analysis, transfer/retirement planning, technical assistance, dairy improvement grants, water quality grants, stakeholder meetings


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