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I chose to pursue a MFALP degree at VLS because I wanted to learn about the legal systems regulating our food system and how they impact the ability of smaller-scale, community-focused farm businesses to survive and thrive.
I really enjoyed the wide variety of law classes VLS offered, as I was able to look at agriculture from the perspective of water law, environmental law, administrative and public law, etc. This in-class learning was nicely complimented by the impressive speakers the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems brought to campus, like Paula Daniels of the Center for Good Food Purchasing.
Q. What have you been up to since graduating?
Everything I learned at VLS has been put to good use since graduation! Shortly after graduating in 2016, I started my own small farm business in North Carolina, Heartstrong Farm. Equipped with knowledge from that Agricultural and Food Entrepreneur Lawyering course, I was ready to negotiate my lease, set up an LLC, and navigate resources and support available to me through Farm Bill programs administered through USDA and on the local level through my county FSA (thank you Amy and Beth!). I also work in legal education services for sustainable farmers, as Farmer and Partner Development Manager at Farm Commons. The knowledge I gained at VLS has served me so well in both of these roles!
Q. What memories stand out from your time at VLS?
There’s something special that happens when you share passion and inspiration with others to figure out how to transform oppressive and extractive systems into those that are just, democratic, and kind to people and the land. As result, I met some of the most inspiring people from all over the world, many of whom are among my closest friends today. Thank you VLS!
I live in the Piedmont of North Carolina, just between Pittsboro and Asheboro. On the farm we’ve got veggies, chickens, a cat, and a fun-loving Great Pyrenees. If any Swans are ever in the area, we’d love to have you visit!