(Sunday) Bringing the Food Economy Home: Farms and Food Justice

In this region of the country, building (and rebuilding) a strong local food economy has led the way as we seek to strengthen our resilience in other spheres. But, there is still a long way to go in broadening the consciousness and structural capacities of a truly localized food system. This panel will look points in the road ahead for food security, how to address the challenge of food justice, and even our need to reconnect ourselves to the soil that grounds our humanity.


Leah Penniman got her farming start as a teen with the Food Project in Boston, MA. She then worked with the Farm School caring for goats and teaching city kids where carrots come from. Leah also worked for and co-managed Many Hands Organic Farm in Barre, MA for several years, co-founded Youth Grow in Worcester, MA, and worked with farmers in Ghana, West Africa and Komye, Haiti. Her areas of leadership at Soul Fire include farmer training, youth educational programming, international solidarity with Haitian farmers, food justice organizing, and anything that involves heavy lifting, sweat, and soil.Soul Fire Farm is a project of partner, Jonah Vitale, and Leah’s hearts – of family and relationships, and the profound ways in which the sacred connection to land creates a powerful vessel for social change and personal transformation, growth and healing. Jonah finds the open sky and bird song foundational for a good life, but not unless he can share it with friends and community. Jonah is also an accomplished timber framer, natural builder and educator with his former company Hudson Valley Natural Building.

Graham Unangst-Rufenacht (aka Regenerator)  is Field Organizer for Rural Vermont, an organization for farm advocacy, where he focuses primarily on grassroots organizing, policy, and coalition development. Graham grew up in East Montpelier and currently lives in Plainfield, VT. He is an educator, herbalist, and co-owner of a grass-fed beef operation (Robinson Hill Beef), and 'home-to-farm scale' agroecology design/build business (Walking Onion). Graham works with youth in a variety of settings and organizations across Vermont including: ROOTS School, EarthWalk, The Maplehill School and Community Farm, and the King Street Youth Center. He is currently looking for land on which to live, grow a family, farm, and educate. Graham holds a degree in Religious Studies and Plant and Soil Science from UVM, a Permaculture Design Certificate from Yestermorrow Design/Build School, and a certificate in clinical herbalism from the Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism.

David Zuckerman is the Lieutenant Governor of Vermont. He has served in the Vermont House of Representatives for six terms (1997-2011), and in the Senate for two (2013-2017), while also being Vice Chair of the Agriculture committee and a member of the Education committee. Dave and his wife, Rachel Nevitt, are the founders and co-owners of Full Moon Farm, a successful, small diversified, NOFA-certified organic farm in Hinesburg Vermont, where they grow on 20 acres, raise chickens, offer year round CSAs, and sell at the Burlington Farmers' Market. Dave served on the American Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee, and is also a member of the Vermont Farm Bureau and the Northeast Organic Farming Association chapter in Vermont.

Sarah Danly joined the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund (VSJF) as the Farm to Plate Network Manager in April 2017. Before VSJF, she worked at the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School as a program officer, combining project management with research and creation of legal resources. Before moving to Vermont she lived in Boston, where she held positions that supported farmers markets’ and environmental outreach. Sarah holds a Master’s of Environmental Law and Policy from VLS, a BA in Community Health and Architectural Studies from Tufts University, and received a BFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where she took practical courses in design but developed a passion for ceramics and jewelry. She lives on a sheep farm in South Royalton and spends her free time gardening, hiking with her dog, and watching the sheep.