The Vermont Land Trust is accepting applications for a new award to benefit Vermont farmers. The Eric Rozendaal Memorial Award has been established to honor Eric Rozendaal, a creative, innovative and enterprising farmer from Starksboro. After he passed away last summer, his family and friends raised funds to create an award in his memory, which is now managed by the Vermont Land Trust. One $5,000 award will be given annually for the next 10 years to a Vermont farmer who demonstrates Eric’s values of land stewardship, giving back, and entrepreneurial farming.
Eric Rozendaal was a pioneer of the farm-to-plate movement in Vermont, and one of the first to sell directly to restaurants, stores and hospitals. He was also an early advocate of greenhouse growing. A longtime vendor at the Burlington Farmers’ Market, he developed new products: he grew artichokes, made farm-fresh donuts, and peeled and cubed butternut squash for customers’ convenience. He also expanded to a food fair in New York City.
In addition to his creativity in diversifying farm products and markets, he worked to improve the soil on his farm, built enduring connections with his customers and farm laborers, and was known for sharing his knowledge with others.
The Vermont Land Trust began working with Eric in 2001 when he purchased the conserved Rockville Market Farm in Starksboro and established his operations there. Over the years, he provided valuable advice to the land trust as it expanded efforts to help new and beginning farmers, especially through its Farmland Access Program.
“We are pleased to present these awards on behalf of Eric’s family and friends, and to support farmers’ efforts as responsible land stewards, conserving natural resources and enhancing community vitality,” said Nick Richardson, president of the Vermont Land Trust.
The awardee must be a resident of Vermont and be actively managing a commercial farm operation in Vermont. Applications will be accepted between January 1 and June 30 for each year’s award. A selection committee consisting of leaders in the Vermont agricultural community will review and score all eligible applications and select a final awardee. Each year’s award will be announced at the Vermont Land Trust’s annual celebration. Details regarding the award and application can be found at www.vlt.org/eric.