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  • Jancis Robinson
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  • Jancis Robinson
10 Mar 2009

Three weeks today applications must be in for the Geoffrey Roberts Award 2009. May I remind you to tell anyone you know who would be a suitable recipient of this £3,000 travel grant that the closing date for applications is 31 Mar.

This annual travel award worth £3,000 is made to someone of any age and nationality who can convince the judges that their proposed journey will make a positive difference to the worlds of food and/or drink. It was established in 1996 in memory of the pioneer importer of fine New World wines into the UK pictured here.

Past winners have included women from New York who have helped villagers in Belize and Ghana develop markets for their vanilla and pineapples respectively; Jane Adams who introduced farmers markets to Australia; Professor Roger Corder who researched apparently life-prolonging wines in Sardinia; the inventors of Ogleshield cheese of Somerset; Mary Taylor of New Zealand who helped a Sri Lankan fishing village replace its vital fishing fleet after the tsunami; and a young Georgian winemaker who made valuable contacts in the French wine business.

Mary Taylor, 2005 winner, sent this report this morning: 'I'm returning to Sri Lanka in May and so looking forward to fresh fish for breakfast from the fishermen of Welipatanvila. Last year we opened Kiwi House, a 3 tonne flake ice plant. Ice helps the fishermen to ensure the quality of their fish and give everyone a better eating experience. I'm looking forward to catching up with them again.'

The 2007 winner, Florida teacher Richard Villadoniga, wrote recently, 'I must tell you that the Geoffrey Roberts Award has had a tremendous impact on my life! Ever since I received this honour, I have started a thriving Slow Food chapter in my home region of North Florida that is very active in preserving our local culinary heritage and "greening" our local farming habits. I have also been doing a fair amount of freelance writing despite these poor economic conditions. I thank you for giving me this opportunity.

'I have started writing an oral history/cookbook with one of our region's most beloved chefs, Johnny Barnes, who grew up in the area and has wonderful recollections of how people connected with the seasons and land and it nourished them. He's a fascinating storyteller and transports you back to a simpler time. And he has great recipes.'

To find out more, and/or apply for this vibrant award, visit