NOFA-VT Hires Grace Oedel as New Executive Director | Food News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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NOFA-VT Hires Grace Oedel as New Executive Director

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Grace Oedel - COURTESY OF NOFA-VT
  • Courtesy Of Nofa-vt
  • Grace Oedel

Grace Oedel, executive director of Ohavi Zedek Synagogue in Burlington, will become executive director of Northeast Organic Farming Associaton of Vermont on July 1, the organization announced last week. Oedel will succeed Enid Wonnacott, who led NOFA-VT for more than 30 years and died last January at the age of 57.

"It's extremely humbling to come into such a beautiful community," Oedel said on Monday. "It's about the community holding the vision of NOFA together; so many people are invested in NOFA succeeding."

Oedel, who founded and directed Dig In Farm, an agriculture education center in Shutesbury, Mass., said she's focused on using organic farming to help "shape the future we long for."

Right now, "erratic climate conditions, loss of local economies and good job opportunities for young people, food deserts, and a lack of close-knit communities" can feel like insurmountable problems, Oedel said. "All of these things can be solved by imagining a future economy that centers on local organic agriculture," she continued. "And that feels deeply hopeful to me."

Oedel, 30, is a graduate of Yale University, where she majored in religion and held a work-study job at the Yale Sustainable Food Project. Her first job at the farm was making pizza in an outdoor oven. The memories of harvesting ingredients, cooking and eating pizza with the New Haven community make Oedel "feel very connected to Enid's legacy," she said. (Wonnacott established a mobile pizza oven at NOFA-VT in 2006.)

The Yale farm was the first ag-related experience for Oedel, who grew up in an apartment in Atlanta. "I just fell in love with this work," she said. As she looks ahead to her position at NOFA-VT, she said she's "healthfully nervous about following such a powerful leader."

The original print version of this article was headlined "New at NOFA"