The 2021/2022 Award Winners
Horticultural Achievement Award
This award is given to individuals connected to the horticulture industry in Vermont who are over 35 years of age and whose accomplishments have advanced our industry educationally, by plant development or growing, through literature, or through outstanding personal effort. This award is the most prestigious and distinguished that can be received from the VNLA/Green Works.
Carol and Mike MacLeod
Evergreen Gardens of Vermont
Waterbury Center, VT
I had the pleasure of getting to know Evergreen last summer while working on a project not far from the garden center. I received an email from Carol asking if I had any opportunities for Erik, a recent UVM grad interested in pursuing a career in Landscape Design. He had been working at Evergreen, knew Carol and Mike as if they were family. Frankly, I felt like family when I started talking with Carol. It’s that kind of place. Immediately welcoming, warm, inviting, and lovely. It’s the kind of place you feel is run by people with big hearts, great dedication, extensive knowledge, and years of success in business right there practically in their own backyard.
Consequently, I met Erik, invited him to site visits where he eagerly joined wanting to learn not only more about the industry but the VNLA. He ultimately participated in the Habitat for Humanity project in October and met many of you during the process. It was thanks to Carol and the team at Evergreen Gardens for helping to guide Erik and his pursuits. It’s clear how much this meant to him. He speaks extremely highly of Evergreen, Carol and Mike as mentors, and the garden center as a remarkable local resource.
Since my involvement with VNLA, I’ve gotten to know just how dedicated, generous and personable they are through their tremendous support and work with the VNLA and their community at large. I know many of you have known Carol and Mike for a lot longer than I have, but it feels like I’ve gotten to know them even better through all of YOU!
In fact, David Loysen, who sold the business to Mike & Carol, recently shared a great story about Mike I’d like to pass along.
“Did you know that Mike’s previous career was in the fragrance industry? I think he was a trained chemical engineer and held many positions there. I recall one day, his first year at Evergreen, when he was so proud of making a $100 sale yet mentioned that he had been used to million dollar contracts when he was a purchasing agent. Another time I brought him some concolor firs which I had grown for Christmas trees and mentioned their unusual fragrance compared to balsams. He immediately plunged his head into the foliage and took a deep breath. Turned out he does have a ”nose”.
The thing that impressed me more than anything else about the MacLeods was their relations with employees. Of course our staff transitioned with the sale, but then they stayed with the MacLeods for years after that. And many of their employees today have been there for more than 10 years. It’s a tribute to their management effectiveness. They trust them, empower them and support them and in return the employees give their best to the business and help make it the success it has become.”
They are educators, advocates & promoters of horticulture within their community and through their support of the VNLA, within the state. It is my honor and pleasure to present this Horticultural Achievement Award to Carol & Mike. Congratulation! Submitted by: Ashley Robinson. Submitted by: Ashley Robinson and the VNLA Board of Directors.
Environmental Awareness Award
This award is given in recognition of an individual that has implemented an environmentally sound practice that contributes to the protection of our environment.
Prides Corner Farms
The recipient of the 2021 VNLA Environmental Awareness Award is Prides Corner Farms based in Lebanon, CT. With their 40 year plus history and 700 acres in multiple locations, Prides can take pride in their many innovations over the years as well as becoming one of New England’s premier growing operations.
Their dedication to the environment can be witnessed, not only in their everyday practices, but also in the long-term commitment to how they grow, sell and maintain their products. Prides has invested in systems for efficient water usage with a goal to recapture and reuse 100% of the water they have. They recycle 40 million gallons of water per year.
They are taking part in the More Profitable Sustainability Program, a worldwide program that provides monitoring, certification and accountability for environmental impact. Prides is dedicated to reducing or eliminating the use of chemicals wherever possible and also continues to implement biological controls. They use 20 billion beneficial insects in their bio control program per year. They use rice hulls on 75% of their containers to reduce weed pressure and helps lower their herbicide usage. As part of the MPS Program, Prides reports their usage of fertilizers, pesticides, energy, land and water to compare with other growers in an effort to continue to find ways to reduce their impact.
Prides approached the VNLA in late 2020 and last year, in a joint collaboration, we launched a pilot plastic pot recycling program for our VNLA members of all #2 an #5 plastic containers. Prides did all of the trucking to make this program possible. This program will continue in 2022. Each year Prides recycles 300,000 pounds of greenhouse film 100,000 pounds of waste plastic, and 100,000 pounds of used plastic pots. The majority of new plastic pots contain 100% recycled plastic.
Lastly, in an effort to burn cleaner energy, Prides installed 753 solar panels on their shipping facility roof, which covers 25% of their electricity needs and they continue to look for ways to reduce their electricity usage.
Prides goals for the future include efficient and environmentally friendly trucks, a compost facility, more bio control programs and solar arrays, and expanding their plastic pot recycling program for customers. Please join us in recognition of Prides Corner Farms for being true stewards of the environment and the planet we all live on. Submitted by: the VNLA Board of Directors.
Retailer of the Year Award
This award was established in 2012 and will be presented annually to a retail garden center or greenhouse operation that stands apart for their excellence in any or all of the following categories: customer service, quality of plant material, knowledge of staff, creativity and innovations in marketing and presentation of retail space, and overall customer experience and satisfaction.
J.M. Landscaping, Nursery & Garden Center
Jim and Mary Musty
J.M. Landscaping, Nursery & Garden Center, located in Bradford, VT, is the recipient of the VNLA Retailer of the Year Award. Owners Mike and Mary Musty and their knowledgeable staff have been serving the public for over 30 years in and around Bradford. They offer a full service nursery, garden center, and florist. They specialize in fresh flowers, nursery-grown plants, and creative gifts and offer a wide array of trees, shrubs, herbs, vegetables and perennials for their customers’ planting needs. J. M.’ s customers have learned to rely on their knowledge, experience and craftsmanship over the years.
J.M. also offers landscape design and installation services which include installing lawns, gardens, plantings, walkways, patios and ponds. They also sell a wide selection of stone for both landscapers and homeowners.
Please join us in congratulating J.M. Landscaping, Nursery and Garden Center for continuing to share their expertise, their exceptional service, and the world of horticulture with their customers each and every day. Submitted by: the VNLA Board of Directors.
VNLA Young Nursery Professional of the Year Award
The Young Nursery Professional of the Year award is an annual award established by the New England Nursery Association and has been adopted by the Vermont Nursery and Landscape Association in 2019. Its purpose is to reward, to honor, and to encourage participation, achievement and growth by an individual who is involved in a related horticultural industry and has not reached the age of 40 years, who has shown involvement in his or her state and/or regional nursery association, who has contributed to the growth and success of their company, and who has portrayed an image to the public of what our products and services can do for them.
** NOTE: This award recipient is selected in December of each year for next year’s award. All other VNLA/Green Works award nominees are selected by December of each year for the previous year. All recipients are honored at the VNLA/Green Works annual meeting held in February of each year.
Vermont Stone & Horticulture
This annual award was established by the New England Nursery Association and is now being awarded by the
VNLA. Its purpose is to reward, to honor and to encourage participation, achievement and growth by an individual who is involved in a related horticultural industry and has not reached the age of 40 years, who has shown involvement in his or her state and/or regional nurserymen’s association, has contributed to the growth and success of their company of employment and has portrayed an image to the public of what our products and services can do for them.
The Young Nursery Professional of the Year Award goes to Patrick Toporowski. Pat came on board with Vermont Stone & Horticulture as their landscape designer in the spring of 2018 bringing with him fifteen years of experience working in the landscape design and nursery fields. In the past three years he has shown an unwavering dedication to getting the job done right and providing the best possible product to our clients.
Josh Cohen, owner of Vermont Stone and Horticulture shared: “In a nutshell Pat cares. He cares about the job, the industry, the client and the crews working to produce his designs in the field. He logs countless hours going over every detail in a design and making sure the clients are happy. Whether it is a small front entry or an entire property overhaul Pat gives each and every client the same level of service. He also makes extra efforts to ensure the crews have detailed job jackets going into a job and provides them with all the support they need to get the job done. I am proud to have him as part of our team and I don’t feel there is a better candidate out there for this award.
Pat has played a significant role in the VNLA’s Volunteer Project Outreach Committee. He has worked on all 3 GMHFH projects. From design to installation, he has been a leading role in the choreography and execution of these projects, contributing significantly to their success. He takes great care, pays attention to detail and communicates efficiently and effectively. He volunteers to jump in when needed, taking on whatever role necessary to complete the project. His participation has been instrumental in helping to grow the committee’s work in reaching out to communities around the state. Thank you Pat and Congratulations! Submitted by: Ashley Robinson and Josh Cohen.
Allen B. Crane Horticultural Employee Acknowledgement Award
This award will be presented annually and is being sponsored by Claussen’s Florist & Greenhouse in honor of Allen B. Crane, head grower there for over 42 years. Allen was “a great friend, wonderful colleague and an incredible grower”. Allen passed away in 2013 after a yearlong battle with cancer. This award is being established in Allen’s honor to recognize the employees that make a difference in the horticultural industry. A cash prize will be awarded to the recipient in the amount of $275. Nominees must meet the following criteria: they should be an employee of a member business with a minimum of 5 years employment with that business; nominees must be employed in the horticultural industry, which could also include the field of education; and nominees should be exemplary leaders and display an ability to grow and excel in the workplace and beyond.
Horsford Gardens & Nursery
I have the honor of introducing Victoria (Tori) Hellwig as this years’ recipient of the Allen B Crane Award. Tori
has graced Horsford Nursery with her presence for the past 5 years and we are very grateful for her time spent with us.
Nursery life is inherently dynamic and and the folks that excel the best are invariably good at making sense out chaos and somehow enjoying it. Tori has that ability and then some. She has shown up with a smile on her face every day and maintained a grounded, cheerful demeanor no matter what role she is in – and we have asked her to perform just about every imaginable task, including beekeeping. You might think I refer to the fun stuff like helping a friendly customer pick the right plant or potting perennial plugs while conversing with co-workers. No, Tori keeps a positive attitude even when its pouring 40 degree rain and we are unloading a truck of saturated B&B trees and shrubs, or when its 98 degrees in the shade, but she’s on the black mat, weeding pot bound Miscanthus. She has an infectious motivation to do good and make better, and I have met very few people with her level of enthusiasm for life.
These past two years Tori undertook some of the biggest challenges and helped with our online orders and curbside pickup – not an easy job. In addition, last year we asked her to step in and mange perennial production for 5 months. She took this job on, like all the others, with can do, positive attitude and a willingness to learn.
Even more importantly, Tori shares her drive and spirit with the larger community. She has pursued a master’s degree in a joint program through UVM and Vermont Law School while working at the nursery and has joined multiple conservation and community groups at the same time. This year she brought to fruition a project that saw a brand new pollinator garden installed in a cemetery in Burlington. Dave Berg had the chance to co-lead a pollinator workshop with Tori at the nursery this past year and share the following words:
“I was incredibly impressed by the breadth of research she had done in preparation and her ability to get the group engaged and excited about the subject. I would be willing to bet that there are many more projects in her future that will utilize the power of plants to make the world a better place, and I have no doubt in my mind that whatever path she takes will leave meaningful positive change in its wake”. Submitted by: Ralph Fitz-Gerald and David Berg.
Student Merit Awards
This award is presented to college nominees for students who are pursuing education/careers in the horticulture related fields and have shown academic excellence. This is a $500 award.
University of Vermont – 2022
Alyssa Pasini is a senior in Sustainable Landscape Horticulture who comes from Glen Allen, Virginia. Alyssa has
been very involved with horticulture both on and off campus since she started at UVM. On campus, Alyssa has been a member of the Horticulture Club since her matriculation at UVM. She was elected Vice President in 2020 and President in 2021. Alyssa has helped to oversee the club meetings, workshops and activities. Many of these were complicated by restrictions due to the pandemic. Despite these challenges, the club was able to host lavender harvesting, flower pressing, apple picking and wreath making activities this past semester.
Off campus, Alyssa has been involved with several different aspects of the horticulture industry. In 2019 she was garden center merchandizer with Plant Partners, Inc. Also, that same year, Alyssa began working at Horsford Nursery. Alyssa has been working there ever since, spending most of her time working as a tree and shrub assistant grower and sales associate. Many landscapers in the area have been assisted by Alyssa at the nursery.
Last fall, Alyssa, along with members of the Horticulture Club, assisted in the landscape installation for the VNLA “Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity” site. This coming fall, Alyssa will be leading a UVM TREK tour which involves taking out a group of ten First-Year students to hike and camp for a several days in the mountains of Vermont. After graduating from UVM, Alyssa is planning to visit the West Coast and explore horticultural opportunities there but ultimately, she hopes to reside and work in Vermont. Submitted by: UVM Faculty.
Vermont Technical College – 2022
The Faculty at Vermont Tech’s Landscape Contracting Program nominated Aiden Cudhea for the VNLA Student
Merit Award. Aiden is a senior in the Landscape Contracting Program from Thetford, Vermont. During his time in the program, Aiden has shown real dedication to his studies, perseverance, and a sincere plan to have a career in the green industry in Vermont. He recently completed an independent project in landscape construction that he tackled with passion and creativity. His positive attitude is an asset to all around him.
For the past two years, Aiden has worked for E.C. Browns’ Nursery and completed his internship there. He is looking forward to starting a fulltime career as a landscape designer and installer and interacting with many different clients to help them fulfill their landscape needs and desires.
Aiden loves the outdoors and enjoys boating and fishing and skiing in the winter. A little-known fact about Aiden is that he trained as a competitive ski jumper! We look forward to seeing what Aiden will accomplish. Congratulations! Submitted by: VTC Faculty.
Past Award Winners:
Horticultural Achievement Award
2020 Vincent J. Comai, Burlington City Arborist
2019 Ralph Fitz-Gerald, Horsford Gardens & Nursery
2018 Ed Burke, Rocky Dale Gardens
2017 Joan Lynch, The Inner Garden
2016 Lori King, Claussen’s Florist, Greenhouse & Perennial Farm
2015 Paul Wieczoreck, Champlain Valley Landscaping/Lincoln Hill Nursery
2014 David Loysen, Shaw Hill Nursery
2013 Leo Roberts, Horsfords Garden & Nursery
2012 Don and Lela Avery, Cady’s Falls Nursery
2011 Charles Siegchrist – Barber Farm, Inc.
2010 Christopher Conant – Claussen’s Florist & Greenhouse
2009 Amy Rose-White, Rocky Dale Gardens
2008 Paul Sokal and Louise Giovanella, Addison Gardens
2007 John and Patti Padua, Cobble Creek Nursery
2006 Thomas F. Wright, Homestead Landscaping
2005 Dan G. Nash, Nash’s Treescape
2004 Leonard Perry, UVM
2003 Bill Countryman, Countryman Peony Farm
2002 Charlie Proutt, Horsford’s Nursery
2001 Holly Weir & Bill Pollard, Rocky Dale Gardens
2000 Greg Williams
1998 Joan Hulbert, Smallwood Nursery
1997 William Horsford
1996 Dennis Bruckel, Grand Isle Nursery
1995 Richard Salter
1994 Elmer Brown, The E.C. Brown Nursery
1993 Norman & Dorothy Pellett
1992 Lewis & Nancy Hill
1991 Richard Stevens, Sr.
Environmental Awareness Award
2020 Nan Jenks-Jay and Carl Phelps, Miller Hill Farm, Nursery & Gardens
2019 David Fried, Elmore Roots Fruit Tree Nursery
2018 Dan Goossen & Jen Baer, Green Mountain Compost/Chittenden Solid Waste District
2017 Nate Carr, Churchill Landscapes, Inc.
2016 Dan Redondo, Vermont Wetland Plant Supply, Inc.
2015 Liz and Jake Guest, Killdeer Farm
2014 Rebecca Lindenmeyr, Linden L.A.N.D. Group
2013 Sarah Salatino, Full Circle Gardens
2012 Chris Conant, Claussen’s Florist & Greenhouse
2011 Sarah Holland – River’s Bend Garden Design
2009 Charlie Proutt and Eileen Schilling, Horsford Gardens & Nursery
2008 Tom Stearns, High Mowing Organic Seeds
2007 Karl Hammer, Vermont Compost Company
2006 Anne Mueller, Arcana Gardens and Greenhouses
2004 Common Ground Student Run Educational Farm
2002 Paul Sachs, North Country Organics
2001 Paul Sokal, Addison Gardens
2000 Adam Sherman
1997 Will & Judy Stevens
1996 Don Avery, Cady’s Falls Nursery
1995 SVCEC Horticulture Program
1994 Jim & Mary Musty, J. M. Landscaping
1993 Nancy Volatile Wood
1991 Andrea Morgante
Retailer of the Year Award
2020 Greenhaven Gardens & Nursery
2019 Claussen’s Florist, Greenhouse & Perennial Farm
2018 Gardener’s Supply Company Garden Centers
2017 Eileen Schilling and Charlie Proutt, Horsford Gardens & Nursery
2016 Carol and Mike MacLeod, Evergreen Gardens
2015 Ed Burke, Rocky Dale Gardens
2014 Karen and Jack Manix, Walker Farm
2013 Tobi and Sally von Trapp, von Trapp Greenhouse
2012 Julie Rubaud, Red Wagon Plants
Young Nursery Professional of the Year Award*
2021 Dave Berg, Horsford Gardens & Nursery
2020 Michelle Blow, UVM Greenhouse Facilities
2019 Kristin Sprenkle, Horsford Gardens & Nursery
2018 Ashley Robinson, Landscape Designer
2017 David Burton, diStefano Landscaping, Inc.
2016 Hannah Decker, Fairfax Perennial Farm, Inc.
2015 Gabe Bushey, Crafted Landscapes, LLC
2014 Jason Koicuba, Cobble Creek Nursery
2013 Brian Vaughan, Vaughan Landscaping
2012 Nathaniel Carr, Church Hill Landscapes, LLC
2011 Claybrook Griffith, Long Leaf Landscaping, LLC
2010 Shannon Lee, Cobble Creek Nursery
2009 Rebecca Lindenmeyr, Linden Landscaping & Design, Inc.
2008 R. Andrew Burtt, Old Nash Farm & Landscaping
2006 Chris Thompson, White River Valley Gardens & Landscaping
2005 Mark Starrett, UVM
2002 Tim Parsons, Greenhaven Gardens & Nursery
2001 Charlie Plonski, Horsfords Gardens & Nursery/New England Nursery Sales
2000 Peter Norris, Greenhaven Gardens & Nursery
1998 Scott Pfister, Vermont Department of Agriculture
1997 Stephen Tworig, North Branch Landscape Co., Inc.
1996 Bill Pedi, Northern Nurseries
1995 Thamasin Sullivan
1994 VJ Comai, South Forty Nursery
1993 Chris Schlegel
1992 Ralph Fitzgerald, Horsford Gardens & Nursery
1991 Pat Seibel
* Formerly a New England Nursery Association Award
Past Recipients of the Allen B. Crane Employee Acknowledgement Award
2020 Daisy Unsicker, Walker Farms
2019 Lily Belisle, Red Wagon Plants
2018 Geoffrey Swanson, diStefano Landscaping, Inc.
2017 Amy Olmsted, Rocky Dale Gardens
2016 Matthew deWolf. Gardener’s Supply Company
2015 Sally Dunkleman, Cobble Creek Nursery
2014 Besty Gritman, Glebe Mountain Gardens & Landscaping
Past Recipients of Student Merit Awards
University of Vermont
2021 Eli Wilson
2020 Josiah Gilbert
2019 Paul Saaman
2018 – Kaly Gonski
2017 – Rowan Payne-Meyer
2016 – Michael Murphy
2015 – Donald Keith, III
2014 – John Davis
2013 – John R. Bruce
2012 – Graham Glauber
2011 – Graham Glauber
2010 – Jesse Ackemann
2009 – Kaitlin May Harris and John F. Holcomb II
2007 – Cole Downing
2006 – Mark Finch
2005 – Kent Martin
2004 – Andrew Burtt
Vermont Technical College
2021 Maria Potvin
2020 Kimberly Myers
2019 Hannah Kilburn
2018 – Ben Zaccarra
2017 – David Howes
2016- Lucas Buckley-Jamison
2015 – Oliver Zeichner
2014 – Kim Cayer
2013 – Kelly Pellegrino
2012 – Jackie Fontaine
2011 – Brittny Tyler
2010 – Lisa Hoare
2009 – Jonathan J. Becker
2008 – Lucy Thayer
2006 – Justin Filskov
2005 – Megan Hefner and Rob Moore
2004 – Mark Dumont
2002 – Jeremy Tinker
Any Active, Associate or Student member of the Vermont Nursery & Landscaping Association (VNLA)/Green Works, current in dues, as well as any Honorary member, is eligible to nominate individuals for the VNLA awards. The deadline to submit nominations is December 31, 2022. Please see the form below.