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Food & Agriculture

Vermont Law School's Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS) is training the next generation of law and policy leaders to build a more sustainable and just food system. Ahead, learn more about food and ag projects, find the latest alumni updates, and hear from CAFS students, faculty, and staff.  

Julia Wickham

Julia Wickham JD’26 is no stranger to nature. Growing up in eastern Iowa surrounded by rolling hills near the Mississippi River, it’s not a surprise she decided to go to law school in rural Vermont. 

Julia attended University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she studied history and political science. While she considered going to law school, she also dreamed of being a teacher or having seasonal jobs. After graduation, Julia moved to Minneapolis for seven years. She gave kayak tours and worked on vegetable farms while lobbying at the state level for the Minnesota Farmers…

Vermont Law and Graduate School invites scholars and journalists in the fields of environmental, energy, agriculture, animal advocacy, and international environmental law and policy to serve as Distinguished Summer Scholars and Media Fellows

Becca Gredone JD’22 currently serves as legal analyst for Nourish Colorado, a nonprofit working on food access and policy advocacy based in Denver.
Johanna Doren MFALP’20, currently serves as Local Food Access Coordinator at Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT), a nonprofit organization with a mission to promote organic practices to build an economically viable, ecologically sound, and socially just Vermont agricultural system.
EJSBS climate protest

Vermont Law and Graduate School (VLGS) announced the launch of a new website – Environmental Justice State by State ( This online resource highlights the achievements of environmental justice communities in advancing law and policy at the state level. It features a comprehensive law library and database containing information about environmental justice laws, policies, mapping tools, and…

This summer, eight summer honors interns are joining CAFS from across the country to work alongside faculty, staff, and our project partners. Learn a bit more about what they're working on!
A woman looks at a table with factsheets on it
Created by faculty and students at VLGS's Center for Agriculture and Food Systems, a new series of factsheets aims to prevent the loss of land owned as "heirs' property."
Students and partners pose for a photo with Senator Debbie Stabenow
Students and faculty from VLGS's Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS) at Vermont Law and Graduate School joined a coalition of farm and food organizations in Washington, D.C. for the Food Not Feed Summit, an event focused on changing America’s agriculture policies.
Gordon Merrick headshot
Gordon N. Merrick JD’20 currently serves as Policy & Programs Manager for the nonprofit Organic Farming Research Foundation, an organization focused on advancing organic agriculture through scientific research.
Lauren Wustenberg headshot
A joint degree student in both the Juris Doctor and Master of Food and Agriculture Law and Policy (MFALP) programs, Lauren Wustenberg now serves as Counsel on the Majority Staff for the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry under Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).
McKenna Hayes holding a head of lettuce
One of the first students to enroll in the Master of Food and Agriculture Law and Policy degree at VLGS, McKenna Hayes MFALP’16 now directs the Food Hub at Food Connects, a nonprofit delivering local food, educational programs, and consulting services to the local Vermont food system.
This summer, six students from law schools around the country joined Vermont Law and Graduate School's Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS) for the Summer Honors Internship program, which ran from May 31 to August 5.
Women stand behind a table of Mexican food
In the past year, the Vermont Legal Food Hub (based at VLS's Center for Agriculture and Food Systems) supported a women-led Latinx food collective, a nut processing collaborative, a program to help restaurants survive COVID-19, and more.
Summer Honors Interns headshots
August 16, 2021
Five law students from across the country joined the team at Vermont Law School's Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS) as Honors Interns this summer.
conference 100
April 2, 2021
The Center for Agriculture and Food Systems is expanding a farmland access resource to serve more communities.
Johanna Doren and Emily Whittier headshots
January 29, 2021
Johanna Doren and Emily Whittier worked with Feeding the Valley Alliance while earning their Master's in Food and Agricultural Law and Policy (MFALP) degrees.
Headshot of Emily Lyons
January 12, 2021
Working in private practice in Washington, D.C., this alumna focuses on food regulation while staying true to her farming roots.
A farmer kneels inside a greenhouse tending to her plants.
December 16, 2020
Based at Vermont Law School's Center for Agriculture and Food Systems, the Vermont Legal Food Hub connects local farmers, food producers, and related organizations with free legal services.
Esther Akwii headshot
September 16, 2020
As an LLM Fellow at the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS), Esther Akwii LLM'20 helped pilot a range of CAFS projects in partnership with organizations across the U.S
A farm
September 11, 2020
Panelists from a recent Center for Agriculture and Food Systems event on structural racism in American agriculture discuss the books that inspire their work.
Alyssa Hartman standing outside at Vermont Law School
July 13, 2020
As the executive director of the Artisan Grain Collaborative, a VLS alumna channels her Master’s in Food and Agriculture Law and Policy to bolster staple crop supply chains in the Upper Midwest.

April 30, 2020

Eva Moss (left) sells her flowers at a farmers market in North Carolina.

After graduating from Vermont Law School's Master of Food and Agriculture Law and Policy program, Eva Moss moved to North Carolina and founded Heartstrong Farm. In addition to running the no-till flower-growing business, she now …

April 21, 2020
Carrie Scrufari arrived at Vermont Law School in 2014 as a Food and Agriculture LLM Fellow. We caught up with Scrufari—who is now associate general counsel at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—to learn more about her time at VLS and how it served as a springboard into a food law career.

April 7, 2020

With workplaces upended during COVID-19, farms are in uncharted territory. The Center for Agriculture and Food Systems created a guide to employment law for Vermont farmers and farm workers covering some of the most pressing questions raised by the novel coronavirus: from paid sick leave, to unemployment insurance, to rules for small businesses. View or download the latest version of…

As a claims representative for the Intertribal Agriculture Council, Vermont Law School alumni Alicia Nevaquaya MSEL’08 identified farmers and ranchers who would benefit under the terms of the national class action civil rights discrimination lawsuit, Keepseagle v. Vilsack.

October 9, 2018

Nico Lustig JD/MFALP’19 has a professional mission: to use the law to help communities, entrepreneurs, and workers create cooperatives, benefit corporations, and social enterprises that strengthen connection and cultivate human and environmental health. A student in the JD/ Master of Food and Agriculture Law and Policy (MFALP) joint degree program, Nico already had years of experience working on local food issues before she came to VLS.

She worked as the Food Business Development Specialist at the Franklin County Community Development Corporation in…


September 20, 2018

The Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS) received a $1.5 million award from the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Library (NAL) as part of a cooperative agreement to continue their partnership. This funding will be used for a variety of major projects and initiatives addressing food and agricultural law. Specifically, the funding will support a new partnership with the Extension Service’s Northeast Center to Advance Food Safety at the University of Vermont, to assist farmers and food producers in…


July 30, 2018

In July, Sophia Kruszewski joined the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems to lead the Food and Agriculture Clinic. Sophia returns to VLS after spending the last five years immersed in federal food and agriculture policy with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC). At NSAC, Sophia focused on the Food Safety Modernization Act and its implementing regulations, as well as the Farm…


May 12, 2018

VLS’s Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS) is part of a collaborative group that launched a national Healthy Food Policy Project (HFPP) in the fall of 2017. The project identi es and elevates local laws and policies that promote access to healthy food and contribute to strong local economies, improved environmental quality, and health equity. The project, which focuses on socially disadvantaged and marginalized groups, is available at…


March 31, 2018

The Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS) at Vermont Law School, Farmers Market Coalition, and Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont have launched an online Farmers Market Legal Toolkit, a free resource to support building resilient and accessible markets throughout the U.S. The toolkit, created with support from the United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture, is available at


August 15, 2016
​​VLS Alum Meghan Jeans, director of the Boston aquarium's Conservation Programs, is leading an effort​ to advance seafood sustainability.​​​​​
August 13, 2016
VLS Alum Paige Tomaselli's '04 work for the Center for Food Safety has helped protect animals, the environment and public health, all while fighting "factory farms."​​​​
August 11, 2016
Nancy and Walter Warner '12 have been able to grow their unique jam business, thanks in large part to Walter's legal education and externships.​
August 9, 2016
As a first-year law student Huyffer aspired to be a principled small-town lawyer, instead, her days now begin with 4 a.m. milking, arranging ​logistics for a dairy business, and caring for her children—four boys, ages six to thirteen.​
August 7, 2016
While it’s become common in recent years to espouse the virtues of small, localized farming, Michael Formica isn’t one of the movement's evangelists. ​"I’m ‘Big Bacon,’” he says, with a laugh.​

In May 2011, an extraordinary range of experts and advocates gathered at Georgetown University to discuss the future of food. Journalist Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation and a prominent critic of industrial agriculture, gave the opening remarks. Among other panelists and speakers that day were CEOs of organic food companies; the senior technology officer from General Mills; the president of The Land Institute; FDA’s deputy commissioner for food; the outreach director for the National Farm to School Network; a vice-president from the Grocery Manufacturers Association; food writers…

From the same starting point, it’s a five-minute drive north beyond the river to the open-air cow barn and the neat rows of organic vegetables at Luna Bleu Farm, where Suzanne Long and Tim Sanford work a small, diversified farm that includes grass-fed beef and free-range chickens.

The couple sells produce and meat to Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shareholders, local restaurants, and the South Royalton Cooperative Market, among other places, and at the Norwich Farmers Market, where Long has been on the board of directors for close to a decade. After a discouragingly wet…