University of Vermont

The Women's Agricultural Network

Agency Spotlight

Vermont Agency of Agriculture Local Foods Administrator Abbey Willard

Abbey Willard recently joined the VT Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets as the Local Foods Administrator. The Local Foods Administrator is a new position at the Agency of Agriculture, created in response to needs for access to safe, healthy, and nutritious food expressed across the state.

Abbey's work focuses on increasing local food in state government through the Workplace CSA Program, expanding the number of Vermont institutions that purchase locally grown and produced foods, collaborating with various state partners to address and develop food safety strategies, improving local food access at farmers markets, and assisting Vermont farmers and producers to expand to commercial markets. Abbey enjoys connecting with local food hubs, producers, distributors, and buyers in Vermont’s communities to research, develop, and implement profitable agricultural marketing strategies.

For 10 years Abbey developed conservation and agricultural technical assistance programs with Vermont’s Natural Resources Conservation Districts, and most recently she worked with White River Conservation District communities to implement watershed stewardship programs, youth conservation education experiences, and encourage farmers to employ agricultural best management practices. Each project and partnership included passion for land and water conservation connected through sustainable agricultural practices.

Abbey grew up in Peacham, Vt. She has a Soils & Environmental Science Bachelor’s degree from Montana State University, Bozeman, MT and a Master’s of Science in Environmental Studies from Green Mountain College in Poultney, where her thesis work focused on sustainable components of Farm to School programs in Vermont. She's been on various local food and farming boards, such as BALE (Building a Local Economy) and the VT Grass Farmers Association.

Abbey and her partner, Dan Koloski, operate Ridge Meadows Farm, a small, diversified pasture-raised meat, egg, and vegetable business in Randolph Center. They raise 100 percent grass-fed beef and lamb and pastured pork and poultry on their farm’s grassland and neighboring pasture and hayland. Her days on the farm are spent caring for animals and plants, offering farm tours, enjoying delicious meals, and hopefully taking a few precious moments to enjoy the incredible views. Abbey finds great pleasure getting up early to move fences or spend time in the garden and loves raising healthy and happy animals that feed their family, friends and customers. Their farm logo proclaims, Be Healthy. Eat locally grown food.

To reach Abbey, contact her by phone: 802-828-3829 or email: abbey.willard@state.vt.us.

Last modified May 11 2012 07:53 AM

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