Founder & Chairman of Gardener’s Supply Company, Founder & Past Chairman of Intervale Center
Will Raap works to create and nurture local food, renewable energy, waste recycling and land restoration enterprises that support a more sustainable economy and future. His innovative efforts extend from the mountains of Vermont to the tropical forests of Costa Rica.
Will serves as chairman of Burlington, Vermont-based Gardener’s Supply Company, which he founded in 1983. The 275-person, employee-owned firm, now among the world’s largest online and catalog gardening retailers, has won national and regional awards for its products and services, as well as for its socially responsible business practices.
In 1987 Will founded, and has subsequently served as chairman of, the Intervale Center, a non-profit organization that develops farm- and land-based enterprises that generate economic and social opportunity while protecting natural resources. The Intervale family of businesses includes Intervale Conservation Nursery, Intervale Agricultural Consulting Services, and Intervale Food Hub, plus 12 small, private farms developed in the Center’s nationally acclaimed farm incubator program.
Expanding the Intervale Center’s mission into Costa Rica, in 2000 Will co-founded Restoring Our Watershed, an initiative that aims to restore the Nandamojo River and its surrounding 29,000 acre watershed through community and business engagement. This led to the development of a successful micro-loan program that is creating dozens of new jobs. He is a partner in two conservation developments, Tierra Pacifica and Pueblo Verde, both committed to sustainable design and practices that support watershed restoration.
Will calls himself a “restorationist”. He seeks to restore degraded and eroded lands, from gardens to watersheds, through employing the power of markets and enterprises, guided by environmental and social missions. These initiatives include Reforest Teak, a line of forest-friendly teak furniture and furnishings that supports reforestation in Costa Rica; The Earth Partners, a land restoration company developing next-generation solutions for marginal and degraded lands to rebuild soils, water resources, habitat, and other critical ecosystem functions; and South Village Community, the largest residential conservation development in Vermont that aims to re-envision suburban development with village living, open space and habitat restoration.
Will Raap is a founder and member of the New Economics Institute Board of Directors and has served on numerous non-profit and corporate boards including Vermont Natural Resources Council, Vermont Business Roundtable, Vermont Land Trust, Intervale Center, Vermont Sustainable Agriculture Council, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, University of Vermont School of Environment and Natural Resources, Champlain College, Living Technologies and Seventh Generation.
Will holds a BA in Economics from UC Davis and a Master’s degree in Business and Urban Planning from UC Berkeley. He has developed and taught courses at UC Davis, Golden Gate University and the University of VT.