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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Greens, herbs and flowers lay in a wooden basket.

If you forage for wild leeks, ramps and other wild edibles growing right now, it is imperative that you heed caution and know proper wild edible identification.

This helps ensure you stay safe and the wild edibles can continue to thrive. It's best to adopt some best practices when out looking for these delicious bits of nature in the springtime. 

couple eats ice cream
Netflix, Courtsey

Ginger and David Isham have been married for over 60 years. They have six children and at one time had about 100 dairy cows. They've lived on their family farm in Williston for decades and watched as the community has changed around them. Their partnership is now one of six highlighted in a Netflix documentary series called My Love, which follows couples in six different countries who've each been together for 40 or more years.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a new effort Monday to feed millions of children this summer, when free school meals traditionally reach just a small minority of the kids who rely on them the rest of the year. The move expands what's known as the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer, or P-EBT, program into the summer months, and USDA estimates it will reach more than 30 million children.

Build A Garden With Layers Of Newspaper, Lawn Clippings And Compost

Apr 25, 2021
A mole peeks out from a pile of dirt on a green lawn.
Petr Bonek

Welcome to raised-bed-building season! With a few materials you most likely have on hand and no tilling, you can create a no-dig garden bed or convert an existing bed to no-dig.  And you can build it so weeds, mice and voles will stay out!

Small green seedlings grow in dark brown soil

With warm weather settling in, you may step out to your garden or gaze at your raised bed and notice many seeds are germinating! Flowers such as calendula, verbena and poppies, and veggies like arugula, lettuce and mustard, may have self sown from last year. And this is the time to thin them out!

A deer eats the tops of flowering plants.

It seems you wait all winter for some colorful flowers to bloom and then the deer and rabbits eat them all first! When it comes to flowering bulbs, there are preventive measures to avoid this.

Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

All over Vermont small, family-owned sugarhouses lie tucked into hillsides. Some haven’t been used in decades and at others, families are still producing maple syrup like they have for generations.

Purple and pink sweet pea blossoms on slender green stems.

Some flower varieties just seem to elicit a smile on your face just by looking at them. One such posie is the lovely sweet pea, with the flower bud's cheery appearance, beautiful hues and lovely scent!

Planting them is easy, when you know a couple of helpful tips. And you can start seeds indoors this month, then transplant and grow in a flower garden, raised bed or window box to use in fresh sweet pea bouquets for the table.

Find heirloom, fragrant varieties with names like "Miss Willmott," "America" and "Cupani." There is also a smaller window-box-sized variety, called, "Cupid," and even a perennial sweet pea.

A pair of pruning shears cut the limb of a berry bush.

Many gardeners are growing blueberry bushes in their lawns and landscapes. These are great additions to your yard, because they are not only beautiful but also provide fresh fruit!

Now is a perfect time to learn some techniques for pruning your blueberry bushes. We'll learn about when to prune, the different aged branches and how to prune to get the best production.

Grating horseradish is serious business. The volatile oil that's released can cut right through you.

Leah Koenig, who has written six Jewish cookbooks, knows that firsthand.

"It kind of goes into your nose, and up into nasal cavities, and you kind of feel like you're getting a cleanse going on," Koenig laughs, "but not a pleasant one."

She has friends who wear gas masks or protective goggles when they prepare the root.

After a long, brutal winter, Cornwall's Tavern in Boston's Kenmore Square is finally getting what it's been waiting for. Or at least a taste of it. The first day Boston restaurants could start putting tables back out on the sidewalks, turns out to be during a stretch of sunny days of temperatures in the 60s, and the tables are full.

Harvard medical student Kailey Slavik — who steered clear of indoor dining since the pandemic started, is almost giddy now to be able to go to a restaurant again.

California's agricultural growers square off against the farmworkers union at the Supreme Court on Monday over a nearly half-century-old law stemming from the work of famed union organizer Cesar Chavez. The law, enacted in 1975, allows union organizers limited access to farms so they can seek support from workers in forming a union.

A raised garden bed with herbs and veggies is watered from a watering can.
Patrick Daxenbichler

Early spring is the perfect time to build some raised beds. First, though, there are some things to consider, like the size of the raised bed and the material you’ll use.

A new report by the United Nations estimates that at least 17% of the world’s food supply goes to waste — the equivalent of about a billion tons of food ending up in the trash bin.

Tucked into President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief law are provisions meant to help Black farmers, who have faced generations of systemic discrimination.

As part of the American Rescue Plan, $4 billion is going toward debt relief for "socially disadvantaged" farmers to pay off debts that have prevented their farms from growing, the Department of Agriculture said. Another $1.01 billion is being used to create a racial equity commission.

Plan And Scheme Your Way To A Productive Garden Plot

Mar 7, 2021
A drawn plan on paper of gardens and lawn with colored pencils.

Though “planting schemes'' may sound like a devious plot hatched by your zucchini, it is actually just planning how you want your garden to look in terms of what gets planted where. And now is a good time to start planning out your vegetable, flower and herb gardens.

We'll learn about planting in straight rows, broadcasting seed, block planting and polyculture planting, and which techniques to use to boost production in raised beds and gardens. 

So, while there is still snow on the ground and chill in the air, get your garden plot and raised bed plans on paper with these new planting methods to try!

Small green seedlings in peat pots with soil.
Jon Spalding

The sun (when it appears) seems a bit warmer on your skin and you've got dreamy garden-plotting thoughts in your head. Right now, though, patience is your best friend when it comes to seed-starting!

You want to ensure your seedlings get the best beginning they can. This ensures they can thrive and produce fruits, veggies and flowers once you plant them in your garden or raised bed this spring and summer.

So, for right now, gather what you need and in a week or two, you should be good to start begin your seed-starts!

Small carrot seedlings in a line grow in soil.

You may have heard the mantra that, "carrots love tomatoes," when it comes to garden placement. In this episode, we'll learn about plant partners and the scientific data that backs up how the placement of certain plants can keep pests and weeds at bay. You can experiment in your own garden this summer! 

A railroad dining-car eatery with stools, counter and booths.
John Getchell, courtesy

The sign propped up in the parking space in front of Bennington's Blue Benn Diner reads, "If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It!" And since new owner John Getchell left his home in Southern Maine to purchase and run the Bennington landmark, he has changed very little about it.

Various cut flowers in glass vases sit on a wooden table.

Happy Valentine's Day! To preserve cut flowers that you may have received for the holiday, we’ll run through the basics of cut flower care including some tried-and-true home remedies.