Vermont Fresh Network Names New Executive DirectorMay 24, 2017
We are excited to welcome our new Executive Director to the VFN team!
Vermont Fresh Network Names New Executive Director
Local food advocate Helen Labun is taking the reins at the organization that has connected Vermont’s farmers and chefs since 1996
RICHMOND, VT - The Vermont Fresh Network is pleased to announce the hire of Helen Labun as Executive Director, replacing Meghan Sheradin, who has been with the organization for 15 years and was recently named the first Executive Director of the Vermont Grass Farmers’ Association. Helen’s expertise is in rural economic development, a field where she has run programs in Vermont for over a decade, and she brings a strong policy and project management background to her new role.
The Vermont Fresh Network (VFN) connects Vermont food producers with chefs and culinary professionals across the state to strengthen the local food economy.
“During Meghan’s time as director of the Vermont Fresh Network we’ve seen major growth in the local foods movement and changes in consumers attitudes towards local food - the demand for local food is high, as is the need to ensure authenticity, help new chefs and farmers connect, and ask ‘what next?’ for the vital role chefs play in our food system,” says VFN Board President Jed Davis of The Farmhouse Group, “There are so many opportunities for our organization - Helen brings a great enthusiasm and energy to this project.”
The Vermont Fresh Network began in 1996, and over the past 21 years has grown into a diverse network of farmers, specialty food makers, brewers, cideries, distillers, vintners, restaurants, schools, food coops, caterers, and food distributors. The combined buying power of VFN members is significant-- last year network members purchased over $137 million in food, $45 million of which was produced in Vermont. Many Vermonters know VFN for its popular Annual Forum that takes place every August at Shelburne Farms, showcasing exceptional Vermont food in a dinner featuring the work of more than 75 food producers. VFN also manages the statewide agricultural and culinary tourism website DigInVT.com, a recipient of a 2017 Working Lands Enterprise Board grant.
Helen Labun grew up in Newbury, Vermont. She has a master’s degree in Community Development and Applied Economics from UVM, and has worked for over a decade on rural economic development issues, managing programs at the Vermont Council on Rural Development and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture. In Montpelier, she ran Hel’s Kitchen restaurant and hosted a weekly international dinner series. She has worked for VFN in the past as a consultant on fundraising and development. She also writes about local food and agriculture issues, most recently as a regular contributor to Vermont’s Local Banquet.
“I’ve collaborated with Helen since she was a graduate student,” says outgoing Executive Director Meghan Sheradin, “She’s been a longtime supporter of VFN, but she also isn’t afraid to try new things and different approaches. This will be an exciting next phase for the organization.” And I’m so pleased to be leaving VFN in such capable hands - I can’t wait to see where Helen leads VFN.”