Staff Spotlight: Rachel Armstrong
Our team at Farm Commons is made up of wildly talented, passionate, food and farm loving leaders. This month, we’ll be featuring a staff member each week so you can learn more about the gals that make our farm law educational programming happen every day, in all the ways.
This week meet our Executive Director, Rachel Armstrong!
Where’s your hometown? I am the 6th generation of my family on both sides to call Northern Minnesota home- specifically, the Duluth area. Although we have to accept a 90 day growing season, it’s a wonderful community of folks. We like to think of ourselves as thriving in a harsh climate. My love of agriculture was formed in this environment as our family “garden” required a tractor to plow, plus a chest freezer and traditional fruit cellar to store the bounty.
When did your interest in food and agriculture begin? I am thankful to my parents for giving me a childhood full of dirt, weeds, and wildness, but I do believe I was born with an irrepressible love for agriculture. I earned a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Wisconsin Madison, but my heart was always in farming. After earning my degree, I worked on local farms, I managed a community garden, started a nonprofit farm-to-chef program and did everything I could in food and agriculture.
Through all these experiences, I noticed a persistent need for legal knowledge. Knowing we couldn’t afford legal services as a community, I decided to go to law school to create a solution myself. Law school gave me three years to figure out a model. With funding from Echoing Green and the generosity of a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, I was able to build my expertise in sustainable agricultural law immediately upon graduation. From there, it’s been 7 years of amazing work with the agricultural community as a whole.
What’s your role at Farm Commons? As the founder and Executive Director of Farm Commons, I am focused on a single thing: building stronger, more legally resilient farm businesses. Every day, I get to test, deploy, and magnify strategies that help famers step into their own power to create strong, legally resilient businesses. In my mind, justice demands that farm communities have control over the paperwork that shapes their success: farmland leases, operating agreements, sales agreements and more. We help make that happen.
Alright, most important question – what’s your favorite vegetable and way to prepare it? When I’m not working, I’m enjoying the company of my preschooler, twin toddlers, husband and mother (who lives with us, thank goodness). We have a big garden of our own and I especially love to grow buttercup squash. It’s also my favorite to eat, cut into wedges and roasted with some butter.
Fun fact: We’re a big hockey family!