Vermont Ag Hall of Fame Announces 2018 Inductees

Contact: Alison Kosakowski Conant | 802-825-1312

Essex Junction, VT –  The Vermont Agricultural Hall of Fame is pleased to announce the 2018 inductees. Now in its 16th year, the Hall has inducted 75 Vermonters to date. To reflect the evolving face of Vermont agriculture, for the first time this year, the Hall will induct outstanding individuals in three categories: Emerging Leader, Ag Innovator, and Lifetime Achievement.

Winners were selected by a panel of judges from more than forty nominations. They will be honored at a luncheon at noon on Wednesday, August 29th at the Champlain Valley Exposition (CVE). Anson Tebbetts, Vermont's Secretary of Agriculture, and Chuck Ross, Director of UVM Extension, will emcee. To purchase tickets or to sponsor the luncheon, please contact CVE at (802) 878-5545 or [email protected]

The Ag Hall of Fame, located inside the Miller Building at CVE, can be viewed during the Champlain Valley Fair, and other Expo events throughout the year. Nominations for next year’s Hall of Fame class will be accepted beginning in January of 2019.

Lifetime Achievement: 30+ Years of Outstanding Service to Vermont Agriculture

Enid Wonnacott, Huntington

Enid has served as the Executive Director of The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT) since 1987. Over the course of her tenure, thanks to her leadership, Vermont’s organic industry has grown immensely, from just 57 certified farms in 1990, to more than 700, today. Enid has worked tirelessly to help ensure all Vermonters have access to local, organic foods, and began a pioneering farm share program more than 20 ago to provide subsidized farm shares for low-income Vermonters. As the National Organic Program was developed, Enid 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. She has made an indelible mark on both the local, and national, organic movement. Enid 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 thirty years. 

Emerging Leader: Stepping Up to Become the Next Generation of Leaders (age 40 and under)

Clara Ayer, East Montpelier

Clara 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 fifty employees, to bookkeeping, to marketing, and events management. She plays an active role in shaping agricultural policy through her advocacy at the Vermont Statehouse, 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 currently serves as the secretary of the Vermont Holstein Association, and is a delegate of both Vermont and New England Dairy Promotion. Clara also created and manages a “Life on the Farm” summer camp for youth, which offers kids the opportunity to experience agriculture through fun, educational on-farm activities. Clara graduated from Cornell University in 2010 with a B.A. in Dairy Science. She and her husband Dana are excited to be raising their two-year-old son, Carson, on the family farm.

Ag Innovator: Bringing New Energy, Ideas, and Opportunity to Vermont’s Working Landscape

Beth Kennett, Rochester

Beth 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 about the economic, social, and educational benefits of agritourism. As the former president of Vermont Farms!, she has traveled and spoken both nationally and internationally to build awareness for agritourism and create new opportunities for Vermont farmers. Her tireless outreach and desire to educate has enabled many farms to diversify and realize the economic advantages of connecting directly with the public.  Since 1984, Beth, 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: 30+ Years of Outstanding Service to Vermont Agriculture

Robert Foster, Middlebury

Robert is a partner in Foster Brothers Farm, a fifth-generation dairy, who served on the Agrimark Board of Directors for 37 consecutive years, before retiring in 2015. He also chairs the University of Vermont, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Board of Advisors. Sustainability has always been one of Robert’s passions. Foster Brothers Farm was the first in the state to install and operate a methane digester. Robert is also co-owner and operator of Vermont Natural Ag Products, a sustainable business which supplies wholesale products, formulated from cow, horse and poultry compost, to the horticultural, agricultural, and turf industries. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for The Soil Health Institute. Within the Agrimark Co-op, Robert has been a champion for renewable energy and sustainability, helping to pioneer the Vital Capital Index, which helps member farms measure and manage their impact on their community, the environment and their bottom line. He has been a tireless advocate for Vermont agriculture, and a mentor and leader to young farmers, over the course of his prestigious career. Together with his wife, Nancy, he has three grown daughters; Robin Cole, Jennifer Foster, and Heather Foster-Provencher, and six grandchildren.

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