Elena mihaly: healthy communities and environmental justice legal fellow.


Elena dishes on local food and local farming--and how to serve up more of both on New England tables.

What first drew you to environmental law?

I've always loved getting outside and enjoying the outdoors with others. I appreciate the power of outdoor education and have remained amazed by the complexity of the biological connections in nature. When I was an undergrad majoring in Environmental Science, I realized my strengths weren't as much in understanding the science of environmental problems, but more in helping fix these problems. I saw environmental law and policy as a powerful avenue for this type of work.

How are you putting those ideals to work at CLF?

I am interested in the intersection of humans and the environment. And that's why I love working in the Healthy Communities & Environmental Justice Program. Since joining CLF, a lot of my work has been on the Farm & Food Initiative, where, among other things, I am helping cities and local food policy councils consider reforming zoning codes to allow for urban agriculture. I also regularly attend Massachusetts Metropolitan Planning Organization meetings to ensure federal transportation dollars are spent in accordance with the Commonwealth's climate and transportation equity goals. And I'm also leading the development of a Legal Services Food Hub.

Can you say more about the Legal Services Food Hub and what it will do?

A robust movement is afoot to sustain New England's communities with fresh, local food. But many farmers and food entrepreneurs struggle with the high legal fees associated with starting a farm or business, acquiring land, entering into contracts, and other business matters. These costs can prevent people from entering the local food business or maintaining a viable enterprise.

CLF created the Legal Services Food Hub to provide pro bono legal services to...

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