We are excited to announce the two recipients of the 2021 Pathfinder Award. Jocelyn Ruggiero as Outstanding Communicator and The Town of Easton, Connecticut as Outstanding Group. The Pathfinder Award was created in 2003 to celebrate individuals and groups who have exemplified leadership in farmland protection over the past year. The award includes three distinct categories: Outstanding Individual Award, Outstanding Group Award, and Education and Communication Award.
“The Working Lands Alliance Pathfinder Award is the CT Grammy for farmland protection and other efforts that ensure our agriculture sector continues for generations to come. This year’s Pathfinder award winners exemplify excellence in their efforts to promote CT Grown agriculture and protect farmland in their local communities. On behalf of the WLA Steering Committee, a HUGE Congratulations to Jocelyn Ruggiero and the Town of Easton for their dedication and commitment to advancing local agriculture. — Chelsea Gazillo, American Farmland Trust New England Policy Manager and Working Lands Alliance Director
Jocelyn Ruggiero is a writer from Madison, CT. Her work focused on farm, food, and cooking. Most recently, she published a series of articles highlighting the challenges of farming across New England. These stories were featured in the Boston Globe. She is a passionate advocate for local food and, as noted on her website, she “writes stories about people and how food, farms, and growers create community, connections, and shared history.”
“I’m honored to receive the 2021 Pathfinder Education/Communication Leader Award from WLA as I so value the Alliance’s work advocating for and protecting Connecticut’s farmland. I am grateful for the trust the region’s farmers and growers have placed in me by sharing their experiences and allowing me to share those stories with the public. – Jocelyn Ruggiero
The Town of Easton, Connecticut was presented the pathfinder award for the preservation of Lakeview Orchards, a historic 37-acre farm in town. This project was completed in June of 2021. The protection of Lakeview Orchards was possible because of committed Easton volunteers including members of the Easton Agricultural Commission, the Town Conservation Commission, the Board of Finance, and Board of Selectmen who worked together to ensure this farm is protected in perpetuity. The farm was protected using funding from USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Services, the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, Connecticut Farmland Trust and the Town of Easton. This project is an excellent example of many farmland preservation partners coming together to work in fierce cooperation to protect one of Easton’s historic farms.
“We are thrilled in Easton to be recognized for our efforts to preserve our farms. The culture of Easton has always placed farms front and center and we are happy to partner with state and federal programs to continue to do so. This allows us to preserve the rural character of our town that we all cherish. We are so grateful for this award. – David Bindelglass, First Selectman, Town of Easton
“Connecticut Farmland Trust is honored to have had the opportunity to work with the owners of Lakeview Orchards and all the partners on the preservation of this key farm. This project is an excellent example of fierce cooperation. I think I can speak for all the partners when I say we hope this is just the first of many more Easton farms to be protected.” — Elisabeth Moore, Executive Director, Connecticut Farmland Trust