Eric was a pioneer of the local food movement in Vermont, one of the first to sell directly to restaurants, stores, and hospitals. He was also an early advocate of growing food in greenhouses to extend Vermont’s farming season. A staple at the Burlington Farmers Market, he often walked around to chat with other vendors in his booming voice; he also sold his products at a food fair in New York City.
Eric was innovative, trying new crops like artichokes, making donuts, and increasing the value of his produce, such as offering peeled and cubed butternut squash. Though he was keen to crunch numbers, he also believed in good land stewardship and personal relationships. He improved the soil on his farm, built real connections with his customers and employees, and was known for freely sharing what he knew with others.
The Vermont Land Trust began working with Eric in 2001 when he purchased the Rockville Market Farm in Starksboro. Over the years, he provided valuable advice to the land trust as it expanded efforts to help new and beginning farmers.
In July 2018, Eric passed away at the age of 51.
The Eric Rozendaal Memorial Award will honor a Vermont farmer who exemplifies Eric’s values of land stewardship, giving back, and entrepreneurial farming. One $5,000 award will be announced at each of the Vermont Land Trust’s annual meetings from 2019 through 2028. Applications will be accepted between January 1 and June 30 for each year’s award.
The awardee must be a resident of Vermont, be actively managing or working on a commercial farm operation in Vermont, and have not received the award in the past. The applicant does not have to own a farm. Current VLT staff, VLT board members, members of the Selection Committee and the immediate family members of VLT staff, VLT board members and members of the Selection Committee are not eligible to apply.
A Selection Committee consisting of leaders in the Vermont agricultural community will review and score all eligible applications and select a final awardee. The 2020 Selection Committee members were:
Applications for the annual award must be received between 12:01 am on January 1 and 11:59 pm Eastern Time on June 30. Applications received outside of this date range will be asked to resubmit during the next application window.
We encourage people to apply online; however, we offer the option of mailing in your application as well. Visit our application information page to get started.
Each year’s awardee will be announced at the Vermont Land Trust’s annual meeting.
Photos of Eric and his farm courtesy of photographer Natalie Stultz.