Lyman is Proprietor, along with his three sons, Cabot, Gardner and Eliot, of The Vermont Country Store, a retailer selling through two stores, nationally distributed catalogues and the internet. The business is located in Vermont, employs over 600 people and actively supports local communities with contributions and employee-led volunteer programs. Lyman established the Foundation in 1995 to help the citizens of rural America better define and shape the future of their communities. The Foundation is funded with profits from The Vermont Country Store. Lyman became interested in land use issues through serving on the Planning Commission of his hometown of Weston, Vermont and recognized the need for more comprehensive tools and processes to help community leaders and the citizens more easily make sense of defining and shaping the long-term growth of their communities. Lyman graduated from Middlebury College in 1963 where he became an anti-billboard activist because of a sudden proliferation of monstrous red billboards along Route 7 advertising a shack that sold sea shells. The shock and outrage among Vermonters over those signs led to Vermont banning all off-premise signs in 1968. Lyman now serves on the boards of in Washington, DC and The Community Agriculture Alliance in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.