Bart Westdijk

NERN (2011)

New England Grassroots Environment Fund

Montpelier, Vermont

I grew up in the town of Zwijndrecht, the Netherlands where I taught myself English at the age of 5 by watching He-Man cartoons on the BBC (no subtitles!).   I spent the rest of my 23 years in the Netherlands working towards a Masters in Business Administration at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, focusing on Business & Society Management and the social/environmental conscience of big business.  During a semester abroad in New Zealand I met my now wife Kate and after a stint in China teaching English and business we landed in her native Vermont in 2005.  Various volunteer sessions later I found a job with the New England Grassroots Environment Fund, working with community volunteer leaders who are passionate about creating environmentally sustainable hometowns that make them proud.  As the Food Systems program officer I work most directly with those volunteer leaders energized by different aspects of a local food system.  In addition I spearhead website development, network with partner organizations, assist in fundraising, fix the dang printer when it breaks, put out the compost when needed, and bring cookies into the office when it’s my turn to do so.  I am on the board of Friends of Burlington Gardens/Vermont Community Garden Network, excited about projects like the Community Teaching Garden, Healthy City Youth Initiative at Hunt Middle School, the creation of 40 School-Community gardens across Vermont and the facilitation of a statewide garden network of close to 1,000 coordinators and enthusiasts.  I also serve on the Executive and Finance Committees of Burlington CoHousing and am a member of the Advisory Committee for the University of Vermont's Community-University Partnerships & Service-learnin (CUPS) office. Burlington, Vermont, has been our home for the last 6 years where we live in Burlington CoHousing, tend our community garden plot down the road and enjoy life by the lake and aside the Green Mountains. The latest and greatest has been the birth of our son Liam in January of 2011.  After an amazing and truly empowering home-birth, Liam is growing faster than we could have ever imagined and helps us balance work & play (well, we try…)!