The Vermont Working Lands Enterprise Board (WLEB) is pleased to announce the appointment of two new members to its Board: Beverley E. Thurber for the appointment of a representative of Vermont’s dairy industry who is also a dairy farmer, and Joseph W. Nelson for the appointment of a representative of the Vermont forest industry who is also a forester as designated in The Working Lands Enterprise Initiative (Act 142). The Working Lands Enterprise Initiative is administered by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, in partnership with the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation and the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development. The WLEB is comprised of private sector and non-profit members from across the supply chains of agriculture, forestry and forest products, including three ex officio executive directors from the Vermont Housing Conservation Board, Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund, and the Vermont Economic Development Authority.
Bev Thurber has been involved in operating Lilac Ridge Farm since 1975 as a dairy, maple syrup, and Christmas tree farm. In 1998 the farm became a family partnership and Bev has managed financial information and other projects for a diverse farm producing maple syrup, organic milk, and vegetables.
Joe Nelson founded Upland Forestry in 1989, a small forestry consulting firm which he expanded from small scale forestry work in Vermont to providing forestry services to industrial owners in New England and New York. With the paper companies divesting of forestland in the 1990’s, Joe steered the company to managing large tracts for private investors. Joe has taught Forestry Camp and Silviculture at the University of Vermont, and consulted on agroforestry and forest economic projects in Central and South America. He sold the business in 2010 and continues with wildlife habitat, forestry, and conservation agriculture projects in Vermont and New York. He graduated from the University of Vermont in 1980 with a B.S. in Forestry.
The WLEB is an impact investment organization whose purpose is to strengthen the economies, cultures, and communities of Vermont's working landscape by making essential, catalytic investments in critical leverage points of the Vermont farm and forest economy, ranging from individual enterprises to entire industry sectors.
Since WLEB began operations in August of 2012, over 400 applications were received requesting over $12 million in funds. The WLEB granted over $1 million in 2013. At least $750,000 in outside funds are being leveraged as a result of these projects:
- Twenty Enterprise Investment Recipients, 14 in agriculture and 6 in forestry were awarded $220,000. The Enterprise Investment Area included grants ranging from $3,000-$15,000 to new and growing agriculture and/or forestry based enterprises.
- Eight Service Provider Grant Recipients, 6 in agriculture and 2 in forestry, were awarded $369,802.
- Eight Capital & Infrastructure Investment Recipients, 4 each in agriculture and forestry, were awarded $411,522.
- WLEB received a new appropriation of $1,425,000 for the 2014 budget year.
A second round of grant funds will be announced in early November. More information on the Working Lands Enterprise Initiative and Board can be found at VermontWorkingLands.com
About The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets: VAAFM facilitates, supports and encourages the growth and viability of agriculture in Vermont while protecting the working landscape, human health, animal health, plant health, consumers and the environment. www.vermontagriculture.com