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Philip Ackerman-Leist

Associate Professor of Environmental Studies
Director of the Farm and Food Project

Solar Harvest Center
One Brennan Circle
Poultney, VT 05764-1199
Email Address:
802-287-2942 Fax: 802-287-8080

Personal Statement
Straddling a fence is never comfortable, but it can provide a helpful vantage point, as well as the freedom of choice to explore either side at will. Such has been much of my experience straddling the worlds of the liberal arts and farming. Whereas many persons tend to see these worlds as disparate landscapes, I see them as much the same landscape viewed with different lenses, a landscape often demarcated with borders, boundaries, and barriers that warrant removal.

Agriculture, at its ecological best, is a study of a myriad of ecological interactions and an ensuing attempt to work with those interactions to achieve a desired result. The liberal arts tradition, at the core of its soul and history, is a recognition of the interdependence of knowledge gleaned from different realms, timeframes, and cultures. Ultimately, the cultivation of good citizens and the cultivation of good soils are not so different—in both cases, disciplines and discipline are requisite, along with an ample dose of humus-inspired humility.

Teaching at Green Mountain allows me to explore and share with students multiple fields of knowledge and numerous fields of farmers simultaneously—a rare experience in college education. I teach here because I keep learning here, and I farm at home because I keep learning there. I tend to think that teaching and farming are two professions that tend to keep one reasonably honest, since neither allows one to be too right for too long.

Selected Educational Experience
  • Associate Professor in Environmental Studies at Green Mountain College (1999-present)
  • Director of GMC Masters in Sustainable Food Systems (MSFS) (2010-present)
  • Director of GMC Farm & Food Project (2001-present)
  • Director of Environmental Initiatives at Green Mountain College (1997-2002)
  • Managing Director of Brunnenburg Castle International Study Program and Farm Manager in Dorf Tirol (autonomous province of South Tirol), Italy (1991-94)
  • Staff for experimental “new Black Mountain College” (1989)
  • Resident St. Andrews College faculty member at Brunnenburg Castle
  • Founder and Director of Supplemental Writing Tutorial Program at St. Andrews College (1986-87)
Agricultural Experience
  • Co-owner of UpTunket Farm & Homestead in Pawlet, VT (1997-present)
  • Founder and Manager of Green Mountain College Garden in Poultney, VT (1997-2000)
  • Farm Manager (1995-96) and Summer Employee (1987-89) for Clayton Orchard & Tree Nursery in Norman, NC
  • Farm Manager at Brunnenburg Castle & Agricultural Museum in autonomous province of South Tirol in Italy (1991-94), Visiting Faculty Member (1988), and Student (1983)
Selected Community Service
  • Rutland Area Farm & Food Link (RAFFL) (2002-2011)
  • Poultney-Mettowee Natural Resource Conservation District Board Member (1998-present)
  • Vermont Sustainable Agriculture Council Member (2006-present)
  • Pawlet Planning Commission Member (2002-2010)
  • Steward for The Nature Conservancy’s North Pawlet Hills Preserve (2000-present)

Graduate Education

  • M.S. in Environmental Biology from Antioch New England Graduate School in Keene, NH
  • Additional graduate study: -George Mason University (creative writing) -San Francisco Theological Seminary (theology) -Northeastern University (teaching composition) Undergraduate Education
  • B.A. in Philosophy from St. Andrews College in Laurinburg, NC International Study
  • CET Chinese Language Training Center in Beijing, China (Jan-May 1998)
  • Institute for American Universities in Aix-en-Provence, France (Jan-May 1984)
  • St. Andrews in Greece Program (Jan 1984)
  • St. Andrews at Brunnenburg Castle in Italy (Aug-Dec 1983)

Language Abilities

  • German: Advanced (incl. Tirolean dialect)
  • French: Intermediate
  • Italian: Beginning
  • Chinese: Beginning Academic Honors
  • Presidential Scholarship to San Francisco Theological Seminary (full tuition)
  • Scholarship to Institute for American Universities in Aix-en-Provence, France
  • Distinguished Scholarship to St. Andrews College (full tuition)


  • Rebuilding the Foodshed: How to Create Local, Sustainable, and Secure Food Systems: An in-depth examination of transforming local food interests into community-based food systems through the lenses of food justice, food security, energy, ecological concerns, and market innovations. A joint-project between the Post-Carbon Institute and Chelsea Green Publishing. January 2013.
  • Up Tunket Road: The Education of a Modern Homesteader: Poised as a back-to-the-land narrative, this book examines the role of the modern homesteader - whether rural, suburban, or urban in the context of contemporary ecological and cultural issues of the early 21st century. 2010, Chelsea Green.
  • A Homesteader’s Ecology: Contracted book in progress on ecological and ethical considerations in homesteading. Manuscript to be completed by June 1, 2009 with publication scheduled for late fall/early winter 2009 by Chelsea Green Publishing Company (
  • “Mountain Farmers: Lives Etched in Landscapes”/“Bergbauern: Leben in die Landschaft gezeichnet” in Bergwelt im Wandel: Festschrift Erika Hubatschek zum 90. Geburtstag, Verlag des Kaertner Landesarchivs, Klagenfurt, 2007
  • Vom Leben am Steilhang/This Field On My Back (Verlag Dr. Erika Hubatschek, Innsbruck, 1995): Translations and introduction for bilingual catalog to accompany ethnographic photography exhibition of farm life in the German-speaking Alps
  • “Schalensteine auf den Langseeplatte” (Der Schlern 69/1995 Heft 5): Article in South Tirolean archaeological magazine on my discovery of a Stone/Bronze Age cultic site at 2300 meters in the autonomous province of South Tirol, Italy
  • Die Frucht Ihrer Arbeit/Into Their Labors (Verlag Brunnenburg Agricultural Museum, Dorf Tirol, Italy, 1994): Introduction, design, and editing for bilingual catalog to accompany ethnographic photography exhibition of Southern Appalachian farm life

For a list of recent presentations, please see the curriculum vitae

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