Food & Agriculture

The home for VPR's coverage of the food and agricultural issues across the state.

VPR's John Dillon covers food and agriculture issues with special focus on the Vermont dairy industry. Follow John Dillon on Twitter for the latest and check back for in-depth reporting from across the state and our region.

Explore our coverage by topic or chronologically by scrolling through the list below
Dairy Industry | Water Quality & PFOA | Marijuana | Vermont Agency Of Agriculture

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Taylor Jewell / Invision/AP

Documentaries stood out at this year’s Sundance Festival – like John Chester’s Biggest Little Farm, with its detailed look at the withering challenges faced by a Santa Monica couple who flees Los Angeles to start an organic farm in the California countryside. Confronted by drought, wildfire, ravenous coyotes, toxic algae and a sick pig, they can only choose to endure. Many Vermonters could relate.

Nahhan / ISTOCK

On my recent trip to Northern India, I noticed in farmers' fields a common Vermont shrub. There were rows and rows of yews. I found out they're the Pacific yews and farmers are growing them to extract a cancer-fighting chemical, taxol, from the plant.

Former Vermont Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets Roger Albee chronicles the national and local history around the founding of two dairy co-ops back in 1919. The co-ops are now celebrating their 100th anniversary.
Ric Cengeri / VPR file

Statistics surrounding Vermont's dairy industry over the last decade have been bleak: falling milk prices have shuttered many small dairy farms, which have dwindled from 27,000 farms a century ago to about 700 dairies today.

But there is some celebrating going on in 2019, as both the Cabot Creamery Cooperative and the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery mark their 100th anniversaries. Which made us wonder, what was going on in Vermont dairy back in 1919?

VPR Cafe: Winter Comfort Foods Stir Up Hearty Flavors And Fond Memories

Feb 14, 2019
For food writer, Melissa Pasanen, The Kitchen Table's cider-steamed mussels bring back memories of a dish she enjoyed as a child.
Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / Seven Days

Even if bitter cold temperatures and mounting piles of snow aren't your cup of tea, there is one thing to love about winter: comfort food! From chicken soup to chili and mac 'n cheese to dumplings, many of these dishes not only warm us physically, but also emotionally.

p ponomare / ISTOCK

The days are getting longer and you know what that means for the veggie gardener, it's time to start thinking about tomatoes.

VPR Cafe: Vermont Fishing Company Reimagines The CSA With... The CSF

Feb 7, 2019
Honeywilya Fish is a Duxbury company that catches, fillets, and ships Alaskan Salmon back to Vermont where it's sold at farmers markets, retailers and through a CSF.
Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / Seven Days

You might have heard of, or participate in, a CSA (community supported agriculture). But now, one small company is bringing the CSF - community supported fish - from the waters of Alaska to dinner tables in Vermont.

Ethan Foleu, president of the UVM Student Government Association.
Ethan Foley, Courtesy

Students at the University of Vermont want to create an on-campus food pantry. The request follows a recent UVM survey showing that one in five undergraduate students at the university are not getting an adequate level of nutrition.

A lunch from Crossett Brook Middle School in Duxbury features whole-grain spaghetti with meat sauce, local apple, salad, broccoli, and a roll.
Vermont Agency of Education

Vermont schools offer free or reduced-cost meals to thousands of students every day. But how did schools become the venue to enact food policy? We're looking at school meal programs and the role they play in nutrition and education in school today.

The production floor at Hill Farmstead Brewery in Greensboro, which was just ranked as the best brewery in the world by the RateBeer website.
Amy Noyes / VPR

Vermont prides itself on producing award-winning beer and spirits; the industry is part of the state's brand and boosts tourism and the economy. But we also have one of the highest rates of excessive drinking in the country. We're talking about the culture of drinking in Vermont, and how we think about alcohol in our state.

igaguri_1 / ISTOCK

Many people love having some houseplants blooming in winter. We're all familiar with African violets and Christmas cactus as two of the best flowering houseplants. But there are others that offer bright colorful flowers without much more work.

VPR Cafe: Remembering Enid Wonnacott

Feb 1, 2019
Enid Wonnacott, who recently passed away, was a leader in Vermont's organic farming movement.
James Buck / Seven Days

Recently, the Vermont agriculture community - and Vermont overall - lost someone who poured her heart and soul into the organic farming movement. Enid Wonnacott passed away January 18 at her home in Huntington. Until stepping down last fall, Wonnacott was executive director of The Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA-VT).

Cows and other animals or all sorts, and impressive farm equipment, are on display at the annual Vermont Farm Show.
Patti Daniels / VPR FILE

Since 1931—with a couple of exceptions—farmers have been getting together at this time of year for the Vermont Farm Show to socialize with other farmers and learn what's new in the agriculture world.

We'll be surrounded by hay bales and hay balers, horses and horse power when Vermont Edition broadcasts live from the annual Vermont Farm Show at the Champlain Valley Expo.

"Meal kits" aim to make cooking meals at home easier and less time-consuming. We're looking at the promise and reality of meal kits and Vermont-grown alternatives.

"Meal kit" services are an increasingly popular way to put dinner on the table, delivering everything you need to prepare a meal in a single box of ready-to-cook ingredients.

But what about finding time to cook and confidence in the kitchen? Do meal kits really save time, and do they help you eat fresh and local? We're talking about meal kits and Vermont's home-grown alternatives.

Selwa Baroody / ISTOCK

For years onions were one of those crops I avoided growing in the garden. They're cheap and plentiful in markets. Why take up space with such a common veggie? But then I started experimenting with unusual varieties and now I'm hooked on onions.

Award-winning winemaker, Deirdre Heekin, in her vineyard in Panton in September 2018.
Daria Bishop, courtesy

We know all about Vermont's stellar reputation for beer, cheese and maple products. But wine? Over the last several years, Vermont wines have gained national attention thanks to one woman who has been leading this particular parade.

Enid Wonnacott, standing at left, with Jack and Anne Lazor.
Jack Lazor, Courtesy

Enid Wonnacott, a leader of the organic farming movement in Vermont, has died. She was 57. 

Wonnacott died on Saturday, according to the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT). Wonnacott led that organization for 30 years, and it grew significantly under her leadership.


I'm always looking for new plants and growing techniques. That's why I'm fascinated with kokedama hanging houseplants. Kokedama is an ancient form of Japanese bonsai. It's also called "poorman's bonsai" because it is so easy to do.

VPR Cafe: A Bread Pudding To Cure The Winter Blues

Jan 18, 2019
Kismet chef, Crystal Maderia, makes a savory style of bread pudding that's similar to French onion soup.
Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / Seven Days

The winter blues affect almost all of us in one way or another. Less daylight, colder temperatures and a season that always seems to last longer than its allotted 91.25 days. It's the time of year when not only our taste buds, but our souls, crave heart-warming foods that provide comfort during the darkest days of the year. 

courtesy of Stowe Farmers Market

A few years ago the book: Hardwick the Town Food Saved brought national attention to the small Northeast Kingdom Vermont town. The book profiled four entrepreneurs with a shared vision and a commitment to a locally focused ag and food economy.

Multiple brown cows standing in a row before hay, one has its head up.
Toby Talbot / Associated Press File

Farmers needing government loans confront empty offices and unanswered calls as the partial government shutdown drags into the fourth week. State officials are also concerned that the shutdown will result in a delay in developing a program designed to help struggling dairy farmers.