2017-19 Board Candidate Slate


Cat Buxton is a busy cross-pollinator. A social entrepreneur, she runs Grow More, Waste Less, in Sharon VT, empowering and connecting communities to affect positive change from the ground up. A self-described microbe geek, Cat loves to talk about bugs, soil health, gardening, and composting, pretty much wherever she goes. She manages the edible schoolyard at Thetford Elementary School, weaving it into K-6 project based learning, and is a technical guide for school compost systems. She’s the coordinator for Upper Valley Apple Corps and a host of other projects including the Vermont Healthy Soils Coalition. She consults, teaches, and presents about soil and ecosystem health. She loves to be outside with hands on earth, and to live simply with her husband and kitty friends.


Elena Gustavson grew up in the middle of a sprawling city with a mother who turned up the rocky foothill soil around their home and grew the largest cabbages in the whole neighborhood, foraged in the mountain forests and fished local waters with nets – LONG before it was hip (but still pretty cool). As an adult pursuing entrepreneurship in both the food industry, retail markets, and communications, Elena eventually moved her young family to Vermont in 2004 where she has since worked with all manner of farmers, food producers, small businesses, and non-profits. She is thrilled to support an organization that holds at its core the belief that our well being lies in connection to and in purposeful action for, our small Vermont farmers, healthy working soils and nutritious food.




Kate McLean & Nick Zigelbaum own and operate Longest Acres Farm in Chelsea, Vermont, where they raise Animal Welfare Approved, 100% Grass-Fed and Organic beef cattle and sheep. They also raise a smaller number of pastured pigs, broilers, layers and guinea fowl. After a short stint as a mechanical engineer, Nick joined the Natural Resource Defense Council, lobbying for stringent energy codes and enacting green building legislation in California. Meanwhile, Kate worked for the then startup, Facebook. Growing weary of offices and suits, they fled to farms in France, North Carolina and Western Massachusetts, finally settling in Vermont on their own land in 2012. Now, they hope to leverage their science, advocacy and social media prowess on behalf of the Rural Vermont board to bring about regenerative, holistic and pro-farm policy.


Derek O’Toole grew up in a small town outside of Worcester, MA. Always hands-on, and never one to be found working behind a desk, Derek decided to give the mariner life-style a try. After 6 years piloting ships on the Great Lakes, he returned to New England with an itch for farming. After apprenticing at Sunrise Farm CSA in White River Junction for 3 seasons, Derek decided to start his own farm with the idea of using horses instead of tractors, and providing fresh, local food for his community. Having grown up around horses, he enjoys the challenge and complexity of using horses for farm work, logging and sap collecting. He and Megan started Anchor Light Farm in 2012.



Meghan Stotko is co-owner of Heartwood, a 5-acre diversified vegetable farm, old-fashioned sugaring operation, and catering company in the Northeast Kingdom. As a former goat farmer, Meghan got involved in Rural Vermont’s raw milk campaign in 2012 and has been working with RV to promote the vitality and interconnectedness of workers, eaters, animals, and soils ever since. Meghan brings her background in food justice, education, and community organizing to the board.



Chris Wood is a collaborator and a community connector. In the field of farm and food policy and concerns, he has been co-manager of the Winooski Valley Food Coop, co-founder and co-director of Rural Vermont, publisher of Organic Farmer magazine, and founder of the Vermont Farm and Food Coalition in the 1980‘s. He co-founded the Horn of the Moon Cafe (in Montpelier) back in 1977 and currently serves as Executive Director of BALE (Building A Local Economy).