Staff and Board

The VGN team delights in spreading the promise and practice of growing food. Together with a strong network of partners, garden leaders and volunteers, we strive to make sure that every Vermonter has access to the space and resources to grow some of their own food, and the information and support needed to be successful.

To reach us email first name (at) vtgardens.org

Staff

Michelle Gates, Executive Director
Libby Weiland, Statewide Network Coordinator
Carolina Lukac, Garden Education Manager
Cedar Schiewetz, Garden and Nutrition Program Manager
Angela deBettencourt, Lead Instructor, Community Teaching Garden
Jen Soucy, Garden Coordinator, Washington County
Nora Woolf, Garden Coordinator, Addison County
Sharon Newman, Garden Coordinator, Chittenden County

Mailing address:
Vermont Garden Network
PO Box 713
Essex Junction, Vermont 05453

Interns & Service Learning Partners

Board of Directors

 

Michelle Gates joined VGN as Executive Director in January of 2018.  She brings 20 years of nonprofit leadership, program delivery and resource development experience, and is committed to helping the organization grow and expand its statewide reach. With a passion for helping all people perform at their best, Michelle is excited to be part of a team increasing food access and wellness benefits through gardening, especially as we recognize the need for better nutrition and increased physical activity to prevent and reduce critical health challenges for people of all ages.  Michelle was born in Washington DC, and grew up moving around the country.  She moved to Vermont in 2010 with husband Rick and two sons, Nick and Zachary, and settled in Westford where she enjoys tending her own garden, cooking, home design projects, hiking, cycling and connecting with family and friends.

Libby - cropped for website

Libby Weiland joined VGN in January 2013 and currently serves as the organization’s Statewide Network Coordinator. Libby has been directly involved with food systems related work since 2000, specifically in regard to food growing, access and community engagement. She has worked to promote healthy foods and healthy communities in her work as an educator and project manager, working with food banks and other food assistance programs, school gardens, workplace gardens and other community-based garden sites. Her primary work at VGN is to offer resources, networking, and learning opportunities for community-based garden organizers across the state of Vermont. Libby is driven in this work by the way gardening opens up individuals and communities to the discovery of new skills, abilities, and insights.

CarolinaLukac

Carolina Lukac joined VGN as the Garden Education Manager in February 2015.  She moved to Vermont from the largest metropolitan area in the western hemisphere, Mexico City, where she was born, raised and spent years gardening on rooftops immersed in a culture famous for its strong food heritage. Carolina cofounded and directed the first urban gardening non-profit in Mexico City, responsible for creating numerous community gardens. Through her experience facilitating gardening workshops and community events, Carolina honed her skills as an educator and became immersed in designing school garden programs for bilingual schools. She holds certifications in garden-based learning, agroecology and permaculture, and honors the lessons she has learned from her own garden as her greatest teacher.

Cedar Schiewetz joined VGN in Spring 2022 to fill the newly created position of Garden and Nutrition Program Manager. They come to the organization with over a decade of experience teaching science and ecology in both public, private, and alternative educational settings. They grew a passion for gardening as a young adult while attending college in the mountains of Arizona and working in a local farm-to-table cafe; which grew some of its produce (including prickly pear fruit) on its roof, something they still find amazing to this day. They’ve gardened for seven seasons in VT, and brought their passion for local and ecologically grown food to their work with students across the region, incorporating our chlorophyll filled distant cousins into many a lab and lesson. One of their favorite parts of gardening aside from the beauty of the plants is the diverse ecological community of pollinators and birds that a well planned garden supports.

Angela deBettencourt is working with VGN as Lead Instructor for our Community Teaching Garden, located at the Ethan Allen Homestead in Burlington. “Hi! My name is Angela deBettencourt. I have been working within Vermont’s food system for many years with a specific emphasis on vegetable farming. I am excited to translate my vegetable farming experience to a garden scale and share my acquired knowledge with home growers.”

Affordable Housing Garden Coordinators

Through a partnership with Evernorth and regional affordable housing organizations, VGN supports a team of Garden Coordinators to support gardening among residents at affordable housing communities in Washington, Addison, Chittenden, and Windham Counties.

Jen Soucy is working with VGN as a Garden Coordinator for gardens located at affordable housing communities in Washington County through a partnership with Evernorth and Downstreet Housing. “Hello, My name is Jen Soucy. I live in The Mad River Valley with my husband, three teenagers, two cats, and a dog. When I’m not working in the dirt, I’m playing in the water.”

Nora Woolf is working with VGN as a Garden Coordinator for gardens located at affordable housing communities in Addison County through a partnership with Evernorth and Addison County Community Trust. “Hi there, I’m Nora Woolf. I live in Monkton with my wife and son on our five-acre homestead. We grow 70% of our own produce and raise sheep and chickens. First and foremost, I am an outdoor educator who loves to teach folx how to engage and connect with the land around them.”

Sharon Newman joined VGN as Garden Coordinator for affordable housing site gardens in Chittenden County, in partnership with Champlain Housing Trust, in August 2021. She has also interned in the past for VGN, providing garden education at gardens all around Burlington. Sharon recently graduated from the University of Vermont studying environmental studies and writing.  From Sharon: “I am passionate about outdoor education and connecting all people with the outdoors.  I love gardening because I think it is one way that humans can have a positive relationship with nature as well as build strong communities.”

VGN Apprentices, Interns, and Service Learning Partners

We work with an impressive group of apprentices, interns, and service learning teams who play an important role in supporting the state’s network of community and school gardens, teaching people how to grow food, and reducing hunger. Internships are open to undergraduate and graduate students from any college or university. Apprenticeships are open to college graduates. Click here for a list of internship opportunities.

Board of Directors

Vermont Garden Network is guided by a dedicated Board of Directors who provide leadership, governance, and fiscal oversight. VGN board members and staff partner in outreach, fundraising, and program evaluation. If you are interested in exploring Board Membership please contact Michelle Gates, Executive Director.

Hannah Harrington, President
Annual Fund Manager, Feeding Chittenden in Burlington

Joseph KieferVice President
Food Justice Consultant (state-wide), based in Montpelier

Casey Sullivan, Secretary
Human Resource Leader, Shelburne Farms in Shelburne

Caroline Aubry
Project Manager, Tetra Tech in Burlington

Alida Farrell
Masters Student, Vermont Law School in South Royalton

Megan Tedder
Program Director, Evernorth in Burlington

Vermont Garden Network is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate on the basis or race, color, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, age, or disability in employment, volunteer and board member recruitment, or the provision of services. VGN is committed to diversity among its staff, board, and volunteers.

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