RUTLAND — Vermont Farmers Food Center (VFFC) has appointed Heidi Lynch as interim executive director, as it enters its second decade as an agricultural food and education hub for Rutland County. Lynch moves into the leadership role after 10 years with the organization, where she began as a volunteer in 2012, and most recently served as its operations director.
A founding member of VFFC, board president Greg Cox says he is ready to pass the baton, and praised Lynch as the right person to lead through this transition. “Heidi’s passion, knowledge, and deep commitment to our community will continue to be a huge asset as she guides the organization through current challenges, toward an impactful future. I am so looking forward to redirecting my energy and attention to other important matters, and watching VFFC grow and thrive under her leadership.”
“I am grateful for this opportunity,” said Lynch. “VFFC means so much to Rutland, and has been such an important part of Rutland’s renaissance over the last 10 years. I look forward to enhancing our capacity to advance our mission and continuing to bring our vision to reality.”
The announcement of the new organizational leadership comes at a critical time for the organization. VFFC is planning, and has received partial funding for, the renovation of all buildings on its 2.93 acre campus as it pursues a vision to become a regional food hub. Recent environmental testing required for further funding revealed unsafe levels of trichloroethylene (TCE) in the air of Farmer’s Hall, the building on the VFFC campus that hosts the winter farmers market. Last week, the state ordered the building closed, forcing the relocation of the winter market to the former Holiday Inn on Route 7.
“We are so grateful and happy the winter market was able to find an alternate location,” said Lynch. “It is so important that the market continues as we work toward resolving the contamination of Farmers Hall. We are committed to supporting the Vermont Farmers Market and all of their vendors, along with our other tenants, as we work with state environmental departments, engineers and other community partners to ensure the safety of all of our facilities.”
While Farmers Hall is closed, the rest of the VFFC campus remains open, and all programs continue to operate. VFFC runs multiple education, food access, and infrastructure programs, including the Farmacy Project, farm based experiential learning online market and Everyone Eats.
“Greg said it best — building a healthier community is part of our mission and if that means cleaning up a contaminated site in the heart of Rutland City, then that’s the right thing to do,” said Lynch. “VFFC’s vision is mighty and we live in the most connected, supportive, and inspiring community. Working diligently with our dedicated board, staff and members of our community to resolve the issues identified by the DEC, VFFC will continue to be an asset to Rutland as a center for food access, education and agricultural economic opportunity.”
Vermont Farmers Food Center is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization founded in 2012 as a grassroots, volunteer-led project. VFFC increases access and availability of locally produced food in the Rutland Region by expanding markets and market access, aggregation, and distribution of locally produced and value added agricultural products.
Further information may be found at vermontfarmersfoodcenter.org.