Barbara Williams Sheperd holds an undergraduate degree from Keene State College and a Master’s in Counseling from Antioch University. She studied writing at the University of Vermont, taking additional coursework at St. Michael’s College, and Johnson and Lyndon State Colleges. She worked thirty years in public education, five as a classroom teacher, and twenty-five as a middle, or high school counselor. She retired from the Essex High School Counseling Department in 2003.
Barbara honed her skills writing thousands of college reference letters, guidance newsletters and directives. Her short stories and articles have been published in Mainstream Magazine, Keene State Today, The Barton Chronicle and the St. Albans Messenger. During the two years she worked for the University of Vermont Extension Service, she wrote a weekly column for The News and Citizen and a monthly newsletter for 4-H families. She even tried her hand at writing blogs for the Flynn Theatre.
During the summers, Barbara lives a quiet life on a small Northern Vermont lake. She recently took up fishing to pass the time during this Covid-isolation-summer, and as an excuse to get out on the water. When winter approaches she flies away to her Florida property with the rest of the snowbirds. There, she starts her day walking the undeveloped trails in her neighborhood, then moves on to creative pursuits.
In addition to writing, Barbara is passionate about genealogy and restoring vintage photographs. She played guitar in a Ceilidh group and clarinet in the Newport Community Band. She sang with Northsong, a Classical Chorus, for sixteen years until the Covid pandemic shuttered the doors on group activities. She started a knitting group at the Goodrich Library that lasted over ten years, again, furloughed by Covid-19.
Barbara has three grown children, and six delightful grandchildren who are not furloughed by the pandemic. People say of her, she makes a friend everywhere she goes.
Ben Falk M.A.L.D, developed Whole Systems Design, LLC, as a land-based response to biological and cultural extinction and the increasing separation between people and elemental things. Life as a designer, builder, ecologist, tree-tender, and backcountry traveler continually informs Ben’s integrative approach to developing landscapes and buildings. His home landscape and the WSD studio site in Vermont’s Mad River Valley serve as a proving ground for the innovative land developments featured in the projects of Whole Systems Design. Ben has studied architecture and landscape architecture at the graduate level and holds master of arts in landscape design degree. He has taught design courses at the University of Vermont and Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum as well as on permaculture design, microclimate design, and design for climate change. He recently served on the board of directors at the Yestermorrow Design-Build School, where he also teaches from time to time. He is the author of The Resilient Homestead: Innovative Permaculture Systems for the Home and Farm.
Grace Gershuny, in addition to her position on the staff of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program, has worked for many years as an educator, organizer, and market gardener. She is nationally known in the alternative agriculture movement, is the author of Start With the Soil, and Compost, Vermicompost and Compost Tea: Feeding the Soil on the Organic Farm as well as co-author of The Rodale Book of Composting and The Soul of Soil. She is on the faculties of the Institute for Social Ecology and Goddard College, and lives in Barnet, Vermont.
Jeff Carpenter and his wife, Melanie Carpenter, own and operate Zack Woods Herb Farm in Hyde Park, Vermont. They have recently co-authored the book, The Organic Medicinal Herb Farmer published by Chelsea Green.
Jeff Carpenter has farming in his blood. Descended from generations of Vermont farmers, Jeff deepened his love and understanding of plants through an apprenticeship with Rosemary Gladstar and as the co-owner of Sage Mountain Herb Products. Since those early days, Jeff’s work as a farmer, agricultural consultant, educator, and researcher has focused on the cultivation and marketing of medicinal herbs. Jeff also partners with Rosemary Gladstar in hosting the International Herb Symposium. His passion for the green world is evident as he spends his days working in the fields and in the community.
Philip Ackerman-Leist, author of Rebuilding the Foodshed and Up Tunket Road, is the Dean of Professional Education and the School of the New American Farmstead at Sterling College. He and his wife, Erin, farmed in the South Tyrol region of the Alps and North Carolina before beginning their nineteen-year homesteading and farming venture in Pawlet, Vermont. With more than two decades of field experience working on farms, in the classroom, and with regional food systems collaborators, Philip’s work is focused on examining and reshaping local and regional food systems from the ground up.