Farming & Homesteading
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.
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.
Ross Conrad learned his craft from the late Charles Mraz, world-renowned beekeeper and founder of Champlain Valley Apiaries in Vermont. Former president of the Vermont Beekeepers Association, Conrad is a regular contributor to Bee Culture—The Magazine of American Beekeeping. He has led bee-related presentations and taught organic beekeeping workshops and classes throughout North America for many years. His small beekeeping business, Dancing Bee Gardens, supplies friends, neighbors, and local stores with honey and candles, among other bee related products, and provides bees for Vermont apple-pollination in spring.