Board of Directors Interview Series: Vanessa Vadim

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Meet Vanessa Vadim

Vanessa Vadim was elected to the Brattleboro Food Co-op Board of Directors in our November election. Vanessa is self-employed and says that she joins the food co-op wherever she lives – and is currently a member-owner of the Brattleboro and Putney Co-ops.  

Vanessa gave us a fun interview: 

When did you become a member of the Co-op? 

Hmm. Maybe 2012? 

What do you do for a living? 

For a living, or with my life? Mainly small-scale, regenerative agriculture farmer, advocate, and artist. I facilitate grant-making for social and environmental justice organizations, and serve on the Putney Planning Commission,  ARPA Advisory Committee, and am a Justice of the Peace. I’m also a documentary filmmaker, syndicated environmental columnist, single parent, edible landscape designer, stone mason… 

How do you like to spend your spare time? 

What is “spare time”? 

Are you a member of any other cooperatives? 

Yes! I am a member-owner of the Putney Food Cooperative and have worked at and been a member of the local co-op everywhere I have lived since I was about six years old. 

How have you spent these last 20 pandemic months? 

In the earliest days of the pandemic, when schools shut down, I ended up with six teenagers and a 12-year-old, plus a friend who came for three days and stayed four months, and the ex-girlfriend of one of my younger brothers. It was a joy to have so much life — music, food, games, company — even if aspects were heartbreaking (two kids graduating high school from the kitchen table, for instance. Not being able to see my aunt or best friend before they died. Missing the first years of my nephew’s life). I continued growing food and sugaring, though the farmers market was shut down. 

What brought you to this area?

I had been living in the South, first farming in North Florida, then in Georgia, for over 16 years, and wanted something different for myself and my children. In the end, it was the Putney School that landed us here.

What do you like most about our Co-op?

Friendly folks who work there. 

With what person, alive or dead, would you like to have lunch, and why? 

My father. I miss him, and he also happened to be one of the most interesting people I’ve known. AND he was hands down the best cook. I’ve eaten in some of the world’s best restaurants, and it’s still his meals I think about most. He could make something from nothing, a leftover talent of growing up in war. 

What drew you to serve on the Brattleboro Food Co-op Board of Directors? 

I was intrigued by the structure and approach, and want to learn about the particular world of cooperative enterprise. I also want to serve in the ways that I am able, and hope that my experience in agriculture and the ways in which I think about the intersections of climate, ecology, food security, and social justice will be of use. 

What do you like the most about being on the Board of Directors? 

It’s a great group of kind people who are clearly dedicated to the well-being of the Co-op, shareholders, and larger community. But ask me again in a year!