Staff and Board

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

To reach us, call (802) 861-4769 or email first name (at)


Jess Hyman, Executive Director
Libby Weiland, Statewide Network Coordinator
Carolina Lukac, Garden Education Manager
Trish Laraja, Business Manager
Jennifer Fuller, Office Administrator
Ehrin Lingeman, Community Teaching Garden Assistant

Board of Directors

We are currently accepting letters of interest for 2018 board positions. Click here to learn more.

Interns & Service Learning Partners

Jessica Hyman

Jessica Hyman has been Executive Director since 2011. Jess began working with VCGN (then called Friends of Burlington Gardens) in 2003 as a volunteer and served on the board from 2009-2010. Growing up on a dairy farm in the Eastern Townships of Quebec instilled a lifelong connection to growing, preserving, and sharing food. She has lived in Vermont for 20+ years and is deeply connected to her Burlington Old North End neighborhood where she helped start and coordinate two vibrant neighborhood gardens with the grassroots group Grow Team O.N.E. A former community journalist and food systems researcher, she is passionate about the importance of information, resources, and encouragement in healthy and engaged communities. Jess has a Master’s in Community Development and Applied Economics from the University of Vermont. She is a former fellow of the UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture and serves on the board of Burlington Area Community Gardens.

Libby Weiland joined VCGN as Program Manager in January 2013. Libby - cropped for websiteLibby 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 by serving as a food stamp outreach educator, a food bank garden coordinator, a nutrition and gardening educator, a project manager for workplace and community-based gardens, and a workshop coordinator for garden leaders. She completed her Master’s in Environmental Studies with a focus on Environmental Education from Antioch University New England, summer 2012. During her time there she co-developed a Community Garden Connections program where she helped establish gardens and lead workshops for new garden leaders. Libby is driven in this work by the way gardening opens up individuals and communities to the discovery of new skills, abilities, and insights.

CarolinaLukacCarolina Lukac joined VCGN as the Garden Education Specialist in February 2015.  She recently moved to Vermont from the largest metropolitan area in the western hemisphere, Mexico City, where she was born, raised and spent the last 7 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. After frequent visits to Vermont in the past 4 years, Carolina was always left with a lingering flavor and growing admiration for the local food movement and decided it was time to call Vermont home.


Trish Laraja joined VCGN as Office Manager in 2015. A native of Cape Cod, Mass., she relocated to Vermont in 2009. She has a wealth of experience in accounting, database management, and office administration.


Ehrin Lingeman is the 2017 Community Teaching Garden Assistant. She became grounded in sustainable food systems, gardening, and community engagement during her studies in the Appalachian foothill town of Athens, Ohio. While volunteering with a non-profit that addresses food security through community engagement programs, gardening, and health initiatives, she found her calling as a food justice activist. She believes everyone should have access to food that is healthy for themselves and their environment and believes promoting garden education can realize her vision. Originally from Ohio, Ehrin recently returned from Peace Corps where she served her community as an agriculture volunteer. When she returned, she came to Vermont to explore the vibrant food system for which the state is best known. Ehrin is excited to deepen her roots within Burlington and sharing her passion for raising food in community.


VCGN Apprentices, Interns, and Service Learning Partners

Each year, VCGN works with an impressive group of apprentices, interns, and service learning teams from area colleges who get direct work experience and play an important role in supporting the state’s network of community and school gardens, teaching people how to grow their own food, and reducing hunger. Service Learning projects are considered on a case-by-case basis. 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.

Nell Carpenter is a Summer 2017 Garden Education Intern. Originally from Connecticut, Nell is a junior at the University of Vermont majoring in Environmental Studies with a concentration in food, land, and community.
Her coursework and experiences revolve around how people relate to others and their environment through food, and how they are inextricably connected. Nell is passionate about food security and food sovereignty, and is currently doing research looking at food access initiatives in Burlington. She is an intern with the Huertas migrant farmworker garden project and volunteers regularly at Pine Island Community Farm, which have given her many different perspectives on how gardening affects communities. In her spare time, Nell loves hiking, reading, and getting her hands dirty!

Beka Bruner is a Summer 2017 Garden Education Intern from the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty organization. Born and raised in Idaho, she currently attends Centre College in Kentucky. She is majoring in Environmental
Studies with a social studies concentration – particularly environmental justice. Her passion for poverty relief, healthy lifestyles, and sustainable food systems has driven her to pursue environmental classes and internships both in the US as well as abroad in Mexico, Costa Rica and Thailand. She looks forward to learning more about community gardens and their impact on poverty relief. In addition, she can’t wait to engage with the community and enjoy some fresh, local food!

Sabina Parker is VCGN’s Network Development Intern. The Cape Cod native is a senior at the University of Vermont majoring in Food Systems with a concentration in Community and International Development and a minor in Environmental Studies. This allows her to study a variety of social, economic, environmental, and cultural issues through the lens of food. Sabina is interested in food security and believes community gardens play a powerful role in improving our food system and making domestic food security possible. She has interned with the Real Food Challenge and Migrant Justice and worked at the Skinny Pancake and the Local Juice, which have deepened her belief in creating a food system that is equitable for all and creating strong communities centered around a love of food. In her spare time, Sabina enjoys gardening, cooking, and spending time outdoors.

Lily Myers is VCGN’s Wild For Pollinators Intern. She is a junior at the University of Vermont pursuing a degree inlily-myers-bio-photoEnvironmental Studies. She is interested in food systems, conservation, environmental education, and community development. She is a Vermont native who grew up gardening, and whose interest in food systems has grown through her studies, and her time interning with Common Roots’ educational garden. She loves doing anything that will get her outside in the mountains, lakes, farms, and woods of Vermont!

Claire Londagin is VCGN’s Network Outreach Assistant. Claire is a senior completing her last semester in the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Production program at Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vermont. She grew up in Portland Oregon, and spent two years going to school, and farming, in Northern California. Since moving to Vermont in 2014, she has become active in the Rutland County garden community, working with Rutland City community gardens and the Poultney High School Community Garden. Claire is passionate about tackling the complex issues that cause food insecurity in our own Vermont communities as well as around the globe, preserving biodiversity through seed saving and sharing, as well as growing beautiful healthy plants and gardens.

Board of Directors

Vermont Community Garden Network is guided by a dedicated Board of Directors who provide leadership, governance, and fiscal oversight. VCGN board members and staff partner in strategic planning, grant writing, fundraising, and program evaluation.

Joe MJoe McHugh, Board President
Joe is Director of Online Marketing at Gardener’s Supply Company. He is an avid gardener, whose first garden was at the Rock Point Community Garden in Burlington, and a former member of the Richmond Planning and Conservation Commissions.


Jen faceJennifer Black Leithead, Board Vice-President
Jennifer is a founding member and volunteer at Fresh Start Community Farm in Newport, VT. Fresh Start began in 2011 as a traditional plot-based community garden and has grown into a co-op style network of community garden sites in the Newport area. Jennifer grew up on a small homestead in rural northwest Montana with a few animals and a large garden and moved to Vermont in 2007, where she now enjoys being a wife and mom, music, gardening, cooking, biking and hiking. She is finishing a Master of Public Health degree in August of 2016 and volunteers in several capacities in Newport.

SueStasnySusan Stasny, Treasurer
Sue is the Human Resources Director at MyWebGrocer. She brings over a decade of experience in HR and employee relations gained in rapidly changing businesses in Vermont. A long-time gardener, she has fond memories of her Burlington community garden.


Erin Buckwalter bio photoErin Buckwalter, Secretary
Erin has worked and volunteered in a variety of capacities on food systems and sustainable agriculture issues in Vermont for over a decade, including building and managing community and youth gardens, managing a farmers market, and is the Market Development and Community Food Security Programs Director for the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont. Erin completed her master’s degree in Community Development and Applied Economics at The University of Vermont, focusing on farm-to-school programs’ effects on children’s fruit and vegetable consumption. While not at work, Erin enjoys dabbling in homesteading; cooking, baking, and food preserving; and being crafty!

Sue Bette is the President and Managing Partner of Bluebird Vermont, a Burlington-based hospitality company. A native of Upstate NY, Sue attended Saint Michael’s College (BA ’01) and the University of Vermont (M.ed ’06) both institutions helped Sue develop a strong connection to Vermont, a Vermont way of life, and the value of strong and healthy communities.

MarielleMarielle Blais
In her years of being active in the school garden movement, Marielle has worked with students from kindergarten through high school.  These efforts have always been generously supported by VCGN.  Marielle teaches at Otter Valley Union High School in Brandon, where she continues to look for ways to encourage students and colleagues to garden.

Juliana Dixon
Juliana is the program director for Lake Champlain International advocating for clean water ecosystems throughout the Champlain Basin. She began gardening as a stay-at-home mother who thought it was better to direct her children to the backyard for a snack then to the cupboard.  Diving into urban agriculture, Juliana completed an MBA in Food Business in Cork, Ireland, and received an MSc in Sustainable Agricultural Development from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.  Her favorite community/food experience was being part of the Pollination Parade as a part of Incredible Edible Todmorden.

Chris Jan 22 2016Chris Jacobson
An artist and teacher, Chris Jacobson is the Education & Outreach Coordinator at the Upper Valley Food Co-op. Chris champions the co-op’s mission as a community-supported natural foods market by fostering and illustrating relationships between people, their food, and the environment. She brings experience cultivating a market garden and raising livestock in Eastern Vermont.

Michael Latreille
Mike has been in Vermont since 2015, practicing Internal Medicine at the University of Vermont Medical Center. His work in medicine has cultivated a strong interest in building healthy communities for vulnerable populations. In Vermont, he has found a great fit in the local food and food justice movements. He also participates on the Chittenden County Hunger Council and the Vermont Farm to Plate Health Crosscutting Team.

Ryan Torres PictureRyan Torres
Ryan is the Community Health Initiatives Director at the Greater Burlington YMCA, where he provides strategic direction, tactical oversight and supervision to programs and initiatives designed to improve the health of Vermont’s citizens. Ryan’s work has focused primarily on the Eat Well Play More (EWPM) Initiative, a collaborative of diverse statewide partners promoting policy change to address childhood obesity in Vermont. EWPM focuses its policy efforts on improving nutrition and increasing physical activity in early childcare, in school, and in out-of-school settings while increasing access to high-quality, affordable foods for all. Prior to working at the Y, Ryan was a Philanthropic Advisor at the Vermont Community Foundation for 5 years, where his work focused on environmental issues, food systems and nonprofit capacity building.


Emeritus Board members

Andy Barker, 2005-2006
Josh Brown, 2001-2004 (president 2001-2004)
Linda Berlin, 2003-2008 (president 2006-2008)
Maureen Cannon, 2003-2006
Beth Cullen, 2015
Ellen Ecker Ogden, 2012-2014
Jim Feinson, 2005-2007
Joseph Fiacco, 2005-2010
Jules Fishelman, 2002-2006 (president 2004-2006)
Jaime Gagnon, 2006
Jeff Govoni, 2008-2010
Huck Gutman, 2002-2006
Daria Holcomb, 2014-2016
Nancy Hulett, 2003-2006
Jessica Hyman, 2009 -2010
Diane Imrie, 2009-2013
Tim Kranz, 2012-2013
Maggie Leugers, 2003-2008
Grace Matiru, 2013-2015
Kit Perkins, 2009-2014 (president 2014)
Donna Renaud, 2013-2015
Jean Sienkewicz, 2005-2007
Fred Schmidt, 2011-2016
Henry Sparks, 2008-2013
Beth Truzansky, 2006-2009
Gavin Wallace, 2004-2006
Bart Westdijk, 2007-2012 (president 2009-2012)
Lisa Winkler, 2010-2012
Will Workman, 2008-2013 (president 2013)

Founder and Emeritus Director
Jim Flint, 2001-2011

Jim Flint

Jim Flint founded Friends of Burlington Gardens in 1996 and served as executive director from 2001 through 2011. He is now executive director at Wonder & Wisdom, a community-centered nonprofit in Greensboro, Vermont providing year-round lifelong learning opportunities for children and seniors.




Vermont Community 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. VCGN is committed to diversity among its staff, board, and volunteers.