News: Two Honored for Outstanding Contributions to Conservation and Farming in Vermont

distant view of farmstead, pastures, and wooded hills - Vermont

For immediate release: November 15, 2021

MONTPELIER, VT – Christine Bourque of Grand Isle and Livy Strong of Jericho were honored with conservation awards at the Vermont Land Trust Annual Meeting in October.

Every year, the land trust recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to conservation and farming in Vermont.

Inaugural Land and Lives Award goes to Livy Strong of Jericho Underhill Land Trust

woman wearing glasses smiling at camera with fall woods behind her

Livy Strong, president and founder of the Jericho Underhill Land Trust which has conserved nearly 2,000 acres

This year, the land trust launched a new award to honor an individual who has strengthened connections between land and lives for the enduring benefit of all.

“Vermont’s working landscape is a rich mix of traditions as well as new challenges and opportunities,” said VLT President & CEO Nick Richardson. “To reflect this, the Land and Lives Award recognizes the dynamic nature of conservation and the importance of relationship to land.”

Livy Strong, volunteer president and founder of the Jericho Underhill Land Trust (JULT), was honored with the first Land and Lives Award. Over decades of committed effort, JULT has conserved nearly 2,000 acres and now owns 650+ acres in Jericho, Richmond, and Bolton.

“Livy has been a driving force behind JULT and the Jericho Underhill Park District for their entire existence,” said VLT’s Bob Heiser. “For more than 30 years, Livy has fundraised and worked tirelessly to conserve Mills Riverside Park, Wolfrun Natural Area, the sledding destination Casey’s Hill, Kikas Valley Farm, the Barber Farm, and Tomasi Meadow. All these are open to local communities and visitors from far and wide.”

“I feel extremely honored to receive the inaugural Land and Lives Award,” said Livy Strong. “This achievement would not be possible without a strong, supportive community. I would also like to recognize our hardworking board members of the Jericho Underhill Land Trust.”

Christine Bourque of Blue Heron Farm in Grand Isle honored for service to community

farm family with two daughters at farmstand in Vermont

Winner of the 2021 Eric Rozendaal Memorial Award, Christine Bourque of Blue Heron Farm, with her husband Adam Farris and their daughters Saide and Delia

The 2021 Eric Rozendaal Memorial Award was given to Christine Bourque of Blue Heron Farm. Bourque will receive a $5,000 award in recognition of outstanding service to community, land stewardship, and innovation.

Christine Bourque, along with her husband Adam Farris and their two daughters Sadie and Delia, have been running Blue Heron Farm for 17 years, building it up from a derelict hay field into a certified organic diversified farm that they conserved with VLT in 2012.

“They are deeply committed to serving their community,” said VLT’s Maggie Donin. “Christine was selected from a number of excellent applicants because of her stellar community involvement, creative response to the pandemic that prioritized those in need, consistent and unwavering investment in her community, and diverse farming system.”

Bourque and her family offer subsidized CSAs serving 85 families, donate plants and produce, run a summer food program for Grand Isle County, and provide senior shares to senior housing in the area. They also support the farming community, having been instrumental in establishing the Champlain Islands Farmers’ Market and offering apprenticeships each year. To care for their land and improve soil health, they practice rotational grazing, minimal tilling, and cover cropping and crop rotation.

Bourque said “We were amazed, and very humbled, to be chosen for the award because what we do is just what we do — farm, feed people, build community, build resilience, and also be hopeful. Small farms like ours are making a difference in our communities, building soil, building a food web, rebuilding community.”

The Eric Rozendaal Memorial Award is given annually to a farmer who honors the legacy of Eric Rozendaal — a thoughtful, creative, and entrepreneurial farmer. The award fund was created through contributions from Eric’s family and friends and is managed by the Vermont Land Trust.

 

Watch the panel discussion from VLT's 2021 Annual Meeting

Farmer Jessica Witscher, Elnu Abenaki educator Melody Walker, and past VLT president Darby Bradly discuss the arc of VLT's evolution and the changing meaning of conservation.

 

Main photo by Caleb Kenna.