Originally named "The Highfields Institute", our organization was conceived in 1999 by former dairy farmer Tod Delaricheliere. After successfully composting dairy manure for four years on his family’s farm, Tod aspired to provide assistance to other local dairy farmers in composting their manure and realizing the benefits of composting.
Our Mission Statement
Over the last 10 years we have continued Tod's efforts targeting dairy farmers and promoting their use of on-farm composting as a manure management practice. We conducted farm visits and surveys of local farms to assess their volumes, their interest, their needs and have provided technical assistance. We established a Compost Demonstration Site in Greensboro, Vermont and began a composting operation utilizing the ingredients commonly found on dairy farms so that farmers and government agencies could learn more about on-farm composting practices. We began conducting workshops for farmers as well as for agricultural agencies to familiarize them with the process.
As we evolved, we introduced food waste diversion into our efforts, which expanded our target audience to include fruit and vegetable growers, food waste generators, refuse haulers, Solid Waste Districts and local schools and colleges.
As the evolution continued, we began to tackle the issues of slaughter waste and mortality composting. This effort is ongoing and we expanded our workshops to include these topics.
By 2004 we had relocated our Compost Demonstration and Research site to Hardwick, Vermont and continued forging collaborations with policymakers, government agencies, farm associations and university extensions. In 2004 we assisted the Central Vermont Solid Waste Management in the development of the Montpelier Commercial Composting Program.
Since, we have worked on additional food waste composting programs, designed new programs, expanded our workshops to include soil health and other topics, and expanded our direct services program for farmers. We are focused on the expansion of our Compost Demonstration and Research Facility as an educational and research facility.
Our original vision of providing technical educational resources, on composting, to the farming community has expanded to emphasize the broader priority of promoting and advancing soil security in Vermont. Composting of manures and food scraps remain a primary vehicle for regenerating agricultural systems. Our programs and research are focused in this area.
We are writing to share with you Tom’s decision to resign as Executive Director of Highfields, and pass on the torch to new leadership. The organization is well positioned for amazing new growth and our capacity to fulfill the opportunities that await us will be marked, in part, by our willingness to pursue change.
I (Tom) am moving on from Highfields to pursue personal life work and aspirations that I have outside of Highfields, not the least of which include having more time with my children and supporting my partner in her work. I am gratified for my time at Highfields and am excited about the next chapter of my life. My commitment to the mission and goals of this organization remain steadfast, and I am certain of the capacity of the Staff and Board, programs and facilities, to pursue and execute an ambitious agenda to advance regenerative food and farming systems.
Highfields is a growing and diversifying organization. Many opportunities that we have long sought now present themselves to us for fulfillment. This is an opportune time to capitalize on this moment of possibility, and leverage the powerful prospect for growth that a leadership transition presents. The Board and staff are in lock step to support a successful transition. Tom will remain in the post of Executive Director until early spring of 2013, and then will shift into an advisory capacity to actively support a transition to the new Director over a couple of months. The Board is beginning a national search for Tom’s successor. We are eager to have your support in sharing this opportunity with the highly capable individuals in your circles that might posses the talents to lead this organization.
Given the moment for pause that a letter of this nature provides, we would like to take this opportunity to express our deepest gratitude for your partnership and support. You have been an incredible ally in this work and we have benefitted immensely from it. We are proud of the distance this organization has traveled in the last 12 years and the outcomes we have contributed to. As we look to the future, we are excited about the next ten years of growth and opportunity, and are eager to continue our collaboration with you.
For regenerative communities,
Tom Gilbert Nick Comerci
Executive Director Board President
Read the Press Release on the Leadership Transition > >