Posted June 12, 2023 at 12:01pm by Kelly Dolan

The Vermonter Poll Results are in!

Every year, Farm to Plate works with University of Vermont’s Center for Rural Studies to pose important questions to Vermonters regarding their behaviors and perspectives on our state’s food system. Below are summary descriptions of results from this year’s Vermonter Poll. If you are interested in learning more about any efforts or groups mentioned below, please contact Farm to Plate Network Manager, Kelly Dolan: 

Question 1: Since 2017, Farm to Plate has asked Vermonters about where they obtain local food, whether by purchasing from farms, restaurants, grocery stores, or convenience stores, or through hunting fishing, bartering, gardening, foraging, or receiving local food from food shelves, foodbanks, or meals on wheels. Certain trends have changed little from 2022-2023 – for example, the majority of Vermonters get local food by buying from farmers (80%), restaurants (87%), or grocery stores (99%) and these percentages have remained relatively stable over time. However, we did see some changes from last year to this year worth noting. A greater percentage of Vermonters:  

  • bought local food at convenience stores or corner markets (78% to 87%)  

  • hunted to eat (21% to 28%) or foraged for vegetables (38% to 45%)  

  • received local food from a food shelf, foodbank, or meals on wheels (9% to 16%), or received local food through gifting and sharing (53% to 58%). 

The last two bullets speak to potentially elevated levels of food insecurity caused by receding Covid relief funding plus high inflation that is increasing costs of living and eroding consumer purchasing power. To learn more about Farm to Plate’s food security efforts check out the Food Security Plan Priority Strategy Team and the Food Security Topic Exchange. 

Question 2: Agroforestry is the intentional integration of trees and shrubs into crop and animal farming systems. The Farm to Plate Agroforestry Priority Strategy Team is dedicated to spreading the word about this important agricultural and climate change mitigation practice. Through the Vermonter Poll, we learned that 64% or Vermonters are not familiar with the term agroforestry nor its related practices. These results tell us that there is an opportunity for Farm to Plate to spread the word and provide opportunities for service providers, farmers and Vermonters to learn more through educational materials and the continued work of this Farm to Plate team. Check out our continued agroforestry storytelling series in this month’s newsletter.   

Question 3: Food as Medicine programs are community initiatives where healthcare providers enroll patients into a program that gives participants a share of free vegetables and fruits from local farms. The Farm to Plate Healthcare and CSA Community of Practice brings together practitioners involved in facilitating such programs. This year, we asked Vermonters if they would be interested in participating in a Food as Medicine program if it were available in their community. 40% responded yes! And another 42% said they would be interested in learning more. This shows us that there’s an opportunity to expand these programs based on demand and also that there is a need to educate, so that others understand the positive impacts and the availability of Food as Medicine in our state.