Vermont Business Magazine The Vermont Agricultural Hall of Fame is excited to announce the 2022 inductees! Over the past 20 years, over 90 contributors of Vermont agricultural have been celebrated with the Vermont Agricultural Hall of Fame honor. This year the nominations were thoughtfully crafted making for competitive choices. A celebratory luncheon is scheduled during the Champlain Valley Fair on Wednesday, August 31, 2022 at noon.
2022 Emerging Leader: This category highlights those who are stepping up to become the next generation of agricultural leaders in Vermont. Age 40 or younger (born after June 1, 1982), these individuals demonstrate a deep commitment to Vermont’s working landscape and are poised to lead our Ag community into the future. They are remarkable for their service, youthful energy, and dedication to Vermont agriculture.
Taylor Mendell, Farmer. Starksboro, VT
2022 Ag Innovator: Those in consideration for this category have demonstrated a fresh and forward-thinking approach to agriculture. They are making or have made a significant, positive impact on Vermont, in areas such as but not limited to: growing the local economy, promoting stewardship and conservation, improving community health and nutrition, developing new tools and practices, and using alternative models in business and land ownership. They are notable for their unique perspective and unconventional approach. (Age is not a factor for consideration in this category.)
Eric Paris, Farmer. Lyndon, VT
2022 Lifetime Achievement: This category recognizes those who have made a significant contribution to the advancement, improvement, or development of Vermont agriculture over the course of their long career. Nominees shall have played an active role in Vermont agriculture for at least thirty years.
- Jackie Folsom, Farmer and Ag lobbyist. Cabot, VT
- Paul Percy, Farmer. Stowe, VT
- Bobby Starr, State Senator. Troy, VT
About the Inductees
Emerging Leader Taylor Mendell of Starksboro. Since moving back to Vermont about 10 years ago, Taylor and her husband Jake, have worked Footprint Farm to provide high quality pork and organic veggies to the surrounding communities. They have over 100 subscribers to their coordinated CSA, as well as a presence at the Shelburne Farmers Market and in local restaurants. Taylor stands out when it comes to community involvement and young farmer advocacy. She is always willing to share her knowledge or offer assistance to farmers, service providers and consumers. Taylor is on the Board of Vermont’s National Young Farmer Coalition chapter and documents her experiences on her personal website: http://habitfarming.weebly.com/
Ag Innovator Eric Paris of Lyndon. Eric and his family have deep dairy roots in the Lyndon area. Which started as a conventional dairy farm in 1988, Eric transitioned the farm to organic and continued to diversity the family business. In 2005 Eric started a commercial composting operation which has grown to greatly benefit the community by accepting food waste as part of Act 148. Using an aerated static pile composting system, Eric was able to double intake, now accepting 400 tons of annual food waste! Aside from selling compost, the farm also sells grass-fed organic dairy and beef, owns and operates the Lyndonville Friegthouse and founded the Lyndon Farmers Market in 2011. Eric was a selectman for the town of Lyndon from 2003-2006, currently a representative to the county FSA/USDA and serves as Vice President of the Lyndon Historical Society.
Lifetime Achievement recipient Jackie Folsom of Cabot. Jackie has spent nearly the last 40 years truly dedicated to Vermont agriculture. Her vast involvement includes all types of farm chores, ag promotion, advocacy, education and role modeling. Her long career holds the trust of many Vermonters as she worked tirelessly with farmers and legislatures in policy development and reform. Most know Jackie for her more recent roles as the manager for the Vermont Farm Show and passionate involvement in Washington County’s Farm Bureau. Jackie has spent her most recent years lobbying for the Vermont Farm Bureau where she will be greatly missed in her planned retirement this year.
Lifetime Achievement recipient Paul Percy of Stowe. Over the last 40 years, Paul has been the longest tenured director of Agri-mark. In those 37 years (1980-2011, 2015-2021) Paul has been part of every major decision the cooperative has been faced with. His insight and knowledge is second to none! He has helped shape and groom the next generation of coop leaders as he is more than willing to share every bit of information one might need to be successful. In his devotion to his farming community he also served as an officer and member of the New England Dairy Promotion Board and remains the Town of Stowe’s Lister. To sum up Paul, he is quoted, “I like working with the cattle. I like working with the crops. I like the challenges. I like being involved in the co-op and meeting people. I think I can have an impact. I enjoy it. I guess that’s what’s important, isn’t it?” It goes without saying, yes, that is what’s important!
Lifetime Achievement recipient Bobby Starr of Troy. Bobby began service in the VT House in 1985 and was then elected to the VT Senate in 2005, chairing the Agricultural committee in both. Bobby has also chaired the Senate Education committee and currently serves on the Senate Appropriations committee. His leadership in issues addressing water quality, land use, dairy policy and education have been paramount for Vermont farmers, especially dairy farmers. Working closely with U.S. Senator Leahy, Bobby was instrumental in development of the Regional Dairy Compact which afforded Vermont farmers six years of milk price stability. His ongoing efforts behind the scenes provided significant influence at the federal level on many issues of milk pricing policy. In 1998 Bobby began his support of the development of the 2+2 UVM/VTC scholarship program for students studying dairy management. 2+2 has developed into a permanently funded program supporting Vermont students entering careers in dairy management and dairy related businesses and services. Bobby is well loved by the farming community for his efforts and reachability. He is always willing to lend his ears to an issue even if the call is coming from outside Orleans County!