The Vermont Agricultural Hall of Fame has announced its 2018 inductees, and for the first time ever it will induct individuals in three categories: emerging leader, ag innovator and lifetime achievement.
The winners in each category are:
Emerging leader — Clara Ayer, East Montpelier
Clara Ayer is a third-generation dairy farmer and family farm advocate. She works alongside her family at Fairmount Farm where she wears many hats, from overseeing human resources for their staff of 50 employees to bookkeeping, marketing and events management.
She plays an active role in shaping agricultural policy through her advocacy at the Vermont State House, and in Washington, D.C., as part of her work as an Agri-Mark Young Cooperator and member of the National Milk Producers Federation.
She is secretary of the Vermont Holstein Association and is a delegate of both Vermont and New England Dairy Promotion.
Ayer also created and manages a “Life on the Farm” summer camp, which offers kids the opportunity to experience agriculture through fun on-farm activities.
She graduated from Cornell University in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in dairy science. She and her husband, Dana, are raising their 2-year-old son, Carson, on the farm.
Ag Innovator — Beth Kennett, Rochester
Beth Kennett is a dairy farmer and innkeeper who helped forge the path for Vermont’s agritourism industry.
For more than 30 years she has helped educate Vermont farmers, government officials and the public on the economic, social and educational benefits of agritourism.
As former president of Vermont Farms!, she has traveled and spoken nationally and internationally to build awareness for agritourism and create new opportunities for Vermont farmers.
Since 1984, Kennett along with her husband, Bob, and three generations of her family have opened their home for farm stays, providing educational, hands-on vacations for thousands of domestic and international guests.
Lifetime Achievement — Robert Foster, Middlebury
Robert Foster is a partner in Foster Brothers Farm, a fifth-generation dairy, and served on the Agri-Mark board of directors for 37 consecutive years before retiring in 2015.
He is also chairman of the University of Vermont College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ board of advisers.
Sustainability has always been one of Foster’s passions. Foster Brothers Farm was the first in the state to install and operate a methane digester. He is also co-owner and operator of Vermont Natural Ag Products, a sustainable business that supplies wholesale products, formulated from cow, horse and poultry compost, to the horticultural, agricultural and turf industries.
Foster currently serves on the board of directors for The Soil Health Institute.
Within the Agri-Mark Co-op, Foster has been a champion for renewable energy and sustainability, helping to pioneer the Vital Capital Index, which helps member farms measure and manage their effect on the community, the environment and their bottom line.
Foster and his wife, Nancy, have three grown daughters — Robin Cole, Jennifer Foster and Heather Foster-Provencher — and six grandchildren.
Lifetime Achievement — Enid Wonnacott, Huntington
Enid Wonnacott has served as executive director of The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont since 1987. Over the course of her tenure, Vermont’s organic industry has grown from just 57 certified farms in 1990 to more than 700 today.
Wonnacott has worked to help ensure all Vermonters have access to local, organic foods. She began a pioneering farm share program more than 20 years ago to provide subsidized farm shares for low-income Vermonters.
As the National Organic Program was developed, she worked to implement a national certification program that kept the needs of Vermont's family farms at the forefront.
Over the past three decades she has nurtured and guided more than 70 staff and 20 interns, secured consistent grant and donor funding, and led NOFA-VT to become a national leader in organic advocacy, food access and farm-to-school education.
Wonnacott grew up in Weybridge and has lived on a small farmstead in Huntington with her husband, Harry, and children, Lila and Eli, for the past 30 years.
This year’s winners were selected by a panel of judges from more than 40 nominations. They will be honored at a luncheon at noon Aug. 29 at the Champlain Valley Exposition.
To purchase tickets, contact Champlain Valley Exhibition at 802-878-5545 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: AK Conant Communications