RURAL DEVELOPMENTS Research news and notes from the Center for Rural Studies, University of Vermont Vol. 4, No. 1 Winter/Spring 2010
About this issue
Sustainable food systems are critical to the wellbeing of all communities. Vermont has a vibrant network of nonprofits, agricultural development organizations, academic departments and centers, and community groups that work to enhance local and regional food systems. We are pleased to collaborate with these individuals and groups and consider ourselves fortunate to be in such good company. Research and project work at the Center for Rural Studies address a broad range of foodsystem and community health issues, including farm-to-school initiatives, consumer behavior, obesity and nutrition, time use and food consumption, farmer entrepreneurship and capacitybuilding, and land use. This issue of Rural Developments highlights some of our current food system projects.
Time use and obesity . . . . . . . 3 Taste of Place . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Local Growers Guide . . . . . . . 3
Our New Look . . . . . . . . . . . Project Updates . . . . . . . . . . News Flash . . . . . . . . . . . . . Evaluation Update . . . . . . . .
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CRS announces new Leahy-funded grant in food systems and community development
CRS will continue its work benefiting communities, entrepreneurs and local decision-makers in Vermont with funds secured by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). Project work by CRS staff and partner
organizations will address program goals in the study of local and regional food system issues, community problemsolving, entrepreneurship assistance,
Continued on Page 6
CRS supports Intervale Center enterprise with research and evaluation
CRS has been working with the Intervale Center (IC) since 2007 to assess consumer demand for local food products and a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share model. The IC, an agricultural-based nonprofit, initiated the Food Basket multifarm CSA model in 2008 and expanded the program in 2009 to serve 20 locations and 200 shareholders, generating a higher income to support 20 Vermont farms. Results from the CSA member end-of-
Photo by Michele Cranwell Schmidt
season evaluation survey (65% response rate) conducted in the fall of 2008 show that consumer needs were met. The CSA reached a new market as 82% of memContinued on Page 6
FSRC “Opportunities for Agriculture” white paper series The Food System Research Collaborative has commissioned five white papers to highlight the breadth of research by the collaborative’s members and to encourage discussion on food system topics. The papers are rooted in applied and programmatic work. For example, the farm marketing paper grew out of a series of workshops for female farmers presented by CRS and the Women’s Agricultural Network. The papers will be released in early 2010, followed by an open discussion series featuring the authors, community partners, and other members of the food system research community.
For more information, or to submit a proposal for the next round of white papers, contact Jane Kolodinksy at Jane. Kolodinsky@uvm.edu. White Paper topics • Farm to School: Implications for Child Nutrition • Produits du Terroir: A Look at France, Quebec and Vermont • Raw Milk Sales: A Help or Harm to Local Dairy Economies? • Trends in Fluid Milk Prices: Economic Opportunity for Dairy Farmers • Adding the Internet to Your Business Recipe: Farm Marketing in the 21st Century
Check out www.foodsystemresearch.net The Food System Research Collaborative’s new research and discussion forum Rural Developments, Winter/Spring 2010 • 1
The Center for Rural Studies is a non-profit, fee-for-service research organization that addresses the social, economic, and resourcebased challenges of rural people and communities. Founded in the University of Vermont’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in 1978, CRS supports the research and teaching missions of the university through its work in applied research, program evaluation, consulting, and outreach. CRS is also the U.S. Census Bureau’s State Data Center. CRS offers its clients — small businesses, academics, UVM Extension and other UVM offices, community organizers, health and social service organizations, planners, town governments, and state and federal agencies — professional assistance with survey research, program evaluation, community data, community planning, focus groups, outreach and capacity building. CRS data resources include more than 40 social and economic indicators for every town in Vermont and the Vermont Community Data Bank. The Center for Rural Studies is fully supported by fees for our services, grants, and generous contributions. Visit us online at www.uvm.edu/ crs for more information about our consulting and research services.
To join the CRS listserve, go to
http://list.uvm.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A0=rural Newsletter Editor: Jessica Hyman
If you maintain websites that link to information on the CRS website, we ask you to please update your links to www.uvm.edu/crs. If you have questions, comments, or feel like something is missing, please contact us at (802) 656-3021 or email@example.com. We always welcome your feedback.
Our new logo in three easy steps CRS is a research 1 organization that collects multidisciplinary information and data...
There is a lot we wished to convey in our new logo — connection to rural livelihoods, communities, and the land; the role information and technology play in the sustainable social and economic development of our communities; and our commitment to empower citizens and local government with information. In the end, it’s the research that CRS conducts — the expertise to carry it out and the resources it creates — that defines who we are as an organization.
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The mainstays of the former CRS website — Vermont Indicators, the Vermont Data Bank, and Census Data — are still prominent (and exactly as they were before). It should now be easier to see what reports are available and to
locate a specific report. Our press releases and clippings are in their rightful places as well. We did cull the multitude of pages and documents that were housed on our former site, relocating some pages to other partner websites and moving outdated material into an archive as appropriate.
Rural Developments is published twice a year by the Center for Rural Studies. The newsletter is available online at www.uvm.edu/crs
Since 1994, the Center for Rural Studies has used its online presence as a “one-stop shop” for data and information resources for Vermont’s communities. The strength of the website was its ability to grow and provide space for new resources as they were developed. But after 15 years of stuffing the website full of information, it was time for some reorganization.
Vol. 4, No. 1, Winter/Spring 2010
The center’s new look
and sends useful information back out to communities and organizations to inform their planning3and decision-making
Food System Projects
Linking time and food spending to study obesity USDA, through the Agricultural Experiment Station, has funded Jane Kolodinsky’s research linking time use and food expenditure patterns in the study of obesity. With research associate Amanda Goldstein, they estimated a preliminary model using data from two national databases: the American Time Use Survey and the Consumer Expenditure Survey. Using consumer demographics as the basis to match respondents in the two data sets, the researchers employed multivariate statistical analyses to estimate the impact of consumer characteristics, their time use and food
The Center for Rural Studies
expenditure patterns, and environmental factors on the probability of being overweight. Preliminary findings confirm results from other studies that have taken a much more reductionist approach to the study of obesity. Conventional wisdom holds up: • Get plenty of exercise and sleep. • Limit sedentary activities. • Consume dairy and other lean, nutrient rich proteins. • Learn how to cook and use those skills. • Eat several smaller meals throughout the day.
206 Morrill Hall University of Vermont Burlington VT 05405 Tel: (802) 656-3021 Fax: (802) 656-1423 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit us online at www.uvm.edu/crs Jane Kolodinsky Director (802) 656-4616 • email@example.com
Michele Cranwell Schmidt Evaluation Coordinator (802) 656-0256 • firstname.lastname@example.org
CRS, Agency of Ag investigate the taste of place In January, CRS will conduct a preliminary study exploring the possibility of applying of the French concept of terroir to Vermont food products. Terroir is a term used to denote unique characteristics in food products from a particular region. This concept may be used to develop a food labeling system for specific Vermont food products. The study will target potential consumers in areas outside of Vermont. Based on the findings, further research
Thomas Desisto Project Specialist
may be conducted in Vermont and abroad.
(802) 656-0258 • email@example.com
This study is part of the Taste of Place project that is being conducted by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets. In addition, CRS will work with VAAFM on the development of a series of technical sessions with food producers to help familiarize them with the body of scientific research surrounding this concept. For more info, contact Thomas Desisto.
David Deutl Information Systems (802) 656-0226 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Amanda Goldstein Research Specialist (802) 656-0351 • email@example.com
Jessica Hyman Research Specialist (802) 656-9897 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Growers Guide links consumers and producers The Local Growers Guide is a joint project of CRS and the Winooski Natural Resources Conservation District to raise awareness about local food sources, link customers to local products, and support local farms. This online guide is searchable by product (organically grown, certified organic, or conventional), town, farm name, or sales outlet. It is populated by farmersubmitted information about their farms, products, and where they sell. The Local Growers Guide started with listings from Chittenden and Washington
counties. We are working with the Addison County Relocalization Network (ACORN), Northwest Regional Planning Commission, South Hero Land Trust, and Rutland Area Farm & Food Link (RAFFL) to expand the online Local Growers Guide to Addison, Franklin, Grand Isle and Rutland counties. Look for printed versions of the Chittenden and Washington counties Local Growers Guides in spring 2010. For more info, contact Jessica Hyman. w w w. v e r m o n t g r o w e r s g u i d e . c o m See page 6 for more CRS Food System projects
In 2009, Vermonters said the most important problems facing the state were the economy, employment, health care, the environment, and energy. What will be the top concerns in 2010? The Center for Rural Studies takes its 18th annual “pulse” of Vermonters in February.
Georgia Jeffers Business Manager (802) 656-0150 • email@example.com
Anna Masozera Communications Consultant (802) 656-2606 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Moser Research Project Specialist (802) 656-0864 • email@example.com
Elizabeth Reaves Graduate Research Assistant firstname.lastname@example.org
Erin Roche Research Specialist email@example.com
Will “Chip” Sawyer Project Manager (802) 656-0892 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Rural Developments, Winter/Spring 2010 • 3
Center Director Jane Kolodinsky presented on “Labels and Marketing: The U.S. Experience and Ethical Dilemmas Associated with Food Labeling” at the first European Conference on Food Marketing and Ethics held in December in Paris, France. Chip Sawyer coauthored the chapter “Demographics” in the book Where the Great River Rises: An Atlas of the Connecticut River Watershed in Vermont and New Hampshire published in 2009 by University Press of New England. The chapter, written with Barry Lawson of Dartmouth College, documents and analyzes socioeconomic trends and the migration of population from the birth of the United States to today. The atlas also contains information on the watershed’s landscape, climate, environment, economy, land use and culture. As Vermont State Data Center Manager, Chip joined CRS Director Emeritus Fred Schmidt in September to deliver a presentation titled “Counting Vermont in the Twenty-First Century.” The presentation, part of the Center for Research on Vermont’s Research-inProgress Seminar series, describes the upcoming 2010 Census and the changes being made to the data on our state and communities. The presentation is available online at retn.org. Jane Kolodinsky, Thomas DeSisto and Michele Cranwell Schmidt presented a poster of project results, titled “Assessing consumer demand for local food: The development of a multi-farm community supported agriculture program to meet farmer and consumer needs” at the July American Council on Consumer Interests annual conference in Milwaukee, Wisc.
Rural news and civic engagement in Hardwick CRS is doing an assessment of civic engagement and information sourcing in the Northeast Kingdom town of Hardwick in partnership with the Hardwick Gazette and other community organizations. We are looking at how people are involved in the community, how they get news, and how they would they like to receive information. An analysis of traditional and new media sources will help identify ways for information to be more accessible to community members. Hardwick is receiving a lot of attention for its innovative agricultural sector and is also part of the Transition Town movement, which seeks to reduce
Domestic violence in the workplace
This project, funded by the Vermont Community Foundation, is the first part of a state-wide rural news initiative to inventory new media use among rural newspapers and determine resource and training needs. For more info, contact Jessica Hyman.
CRS, the Domestic Abuse Education Program, and the Vermont Council on Domestic Violence are conducting a study of domestic abuse offenders who are participants in statewide Batterer Intervention Programs. This project is an effort to understand how domestic abuse offenders use the workplace to further victimize their intimate partners and the impact of these actions on both offender and victim workplace productivity and efficiency. For more info, contact Michele Cranwell Schmidt.
Childcare issues Voices for Vermont’s Children is working with CRS on a statewide survey to determine the challenges and opportunities families face in providing quality affordable childcare for their children. Each fall semester Michael Moser co-teaches Coffee Ecologies and Livelihoods, a crosslisted PSS/ENVS diversity fulfillment course at UVM. Be on the lookout around the UVM campus and greater Burlington area this spring for poster presentations of the students’ coffee research findings.
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oil dependence. These and other new initiatives and partnerships are bringing people and organizations together and increasing social capital. This project seeks to understand the connections between an informed and engaged citizenry and local information sources — both of which are essential for a strong and healthy community.
Last year CRS surveyed Vermonters about their experiences related to taking sick days from their jobs and about their opinions on enacting statewide legislation that would ensure paid sick days for all working Vermonters. For more info, contact Michael Moser.
Voices for the Lake CRS is working with Voices for the Lake, an ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center outreach initiative that inspires Lake Champlain Basin stewardship through social media. The phone and online surveys contain questions about water stewardship, social media, and how people get information and spend their time. For info, contact Jessica Hyman. Go to http://tiny.cc/ECHOvfl to do the online survey. To learn more about ECHO Voices for the Lake, visit www.echovermont.org/ourmission/vfl.html
CRS’s Indicators of Downtown Health project, a partnership with Smart Growth Vermont to build an indicator system to analyze economic health and quality of life in Vermont’s downtowns, made its international debut in July. Elizabeth Reaves, CRS research assistant and graduate student in Community
Identifying trends in the philanthropic sector Working with the Vermont Community Foundation, CRS gathered data from Vermont foundations regarding their short and long-term giving strategies in the state. The purpose of this study was to identify trends in the philanthropic sector, provide baseline and benchmarking information, and define the value
of the state’s philanthropic sector. The effort will help grantors and grantees in Vermont better understand the giving landscape. Be on the lookout for the forthcoming report release at: www. vermontcf.org. For more info, contact Michael Moser.
New England seasonal transportation study enters final phase with winter survey CRS successfully completed the third phase of the Transportation in Your Life survey in November. This survey will be repeated one more time for our research project titled Mobility and Livability: Seasonal and Built Environment Impacts. The project, funded by the UVM Transportation Research Center, takes a unique look at transportation, quality of life and the climate in northern New England, including
the effects of seasonal changes. Nearly 800 residents of northern New England are part of the survey panel. By repeating the survey each season, CRS will be able to describe the impact of season on mobility and transportation behavior of the participants. The project will then explore links between people’s mobility and their perceptions of livability. For more info, contact Chip Sawyer, Erin Roche, or Thomas Desisto.
Data detectives in the Mad River Valley CRS is working with the Mad River Valley Planning District to streamline the organization’s data collection and analysis efforts. The district has been collecting data on demographics, skier visits, employment, housing and land use for the past 10 years. To date, the information has been used to create a snapshot of the Valley as well as identify trends that have historically shaped the region. CRS is providing consultation on data analysis, database development, and existing data sources in order to help
the Mad River Valley Planning District set goals and priorities for the next 10 years. For more info, contact Chip Sawyer or Erin Roche.
Development and Applied Economics, presented the Indicators of Downtown Health project at the International Society for Quality of Life Studies Conference on “Measures and Goals for the Progress of Societies” in Florence, Italy. The project was well received and praised for its “bottomup community approach.” The indicators are currently being collected and tested in Bristol, Burlington, Montpelier, and St. Albans.
Amanda Goldstein presented a poster at the annual joint meeting of the Agriculture, Food, and Human Values Society and the Association for the Study of Food and Society in State College, Penn. The poster represented her thesis work, “Carbonation concerns: Is there a relationship between time spent drinking,
Erin Roche presented a poster titled “Government Policies and the Building of a Unique Community: Unintended Consequences” at the Community Development Society conference in Memphis, Tenn. With Center Director Jane Kolodinsky, Erin had an article accepted for publication by the International Journal of Consumer Studies titled “Objective measures as a predictor of late payments by high-risk borrowers” which presents the results of a study of default and delinquency behavior among high and average risk purchasers of manufactured homes. Erin also has been participating in the ongoing efforts of the Vermont Farm to School Network Steering Committee in its mission to provide statewide leadership, coordination, and advocacy to advance new and existing Farm to School efforts in Vermont classrooms, cafeterias and communities. Jessica Hyman presented on “Development Pressure and Land-Use Decisions: Farmland Change Within Vermont’s Diversified Agricultural Networks,” at the May annual joint meeting of the Agriculture, Food, and Human Values Society and the Association for the Study of Food and Society in State College, Penn. At the request of the Quebec Ministry of Agriculture, Jessica gave a similar presentation in French at a September workshop on agricultural development zones in Lac-Beauport, Québec. Jessica also presented on “A Transdisciplinary Approach: The Food System Research Collaborative at the University of Vermont” at the May NERCRD conference on Enhancing Local and Regional Food Systems in Kerhonkson, N.Y. beverage patterns, and overweight in male adults?” Later in the summer, she presented the full paper at the annual joint meeting of the American Council on Consumer Interest and the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association in Milwaukee, Wisc.
Rural Developments, Winter/Spring 2010 • 5
CRS offers process- and outcome-focused evaluation services that informs self-assessment and strategic planning. Here is a sampling of current food-system and community health evaluation projects:
Farm to School CRS will join Vermont FEED, Shelburne Farms, the Center for Sustainable Agriculture and PEER Associates in an effort to expand and evaluate Farm-to-School programs in Vermont using grant funds from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For more info, contact Erin Roche.
The 225 Club The 225 Club: Fitness, Understanding & Nutrition for All is a project of the Washington County Youth Service Bureau/Boys and Girls Club and Barre City Middle School which combines a variety of approaches to establish a culture of health and fitness for students in 5th through 8th grades. This process and outcome evaluation uses a mixed methods approach and data/informant triangulation to determine the multi-faceted impact on multiple stakeholders, including youth, parents and families, the school and larger Barre community. For more info, contact Michele Cranwell Schmidt.
Fit & Healthy Swanton programs Fit & Healthy Swanton Coalition/Northwestern Medical Center has partnered with CRS for evaluation support for its TV Turnoff Week program, the new walking/bike path, and the overall Fit & Healthy Swanton program. For more info, contact Erin Roche.
6,984 farms in VT
• up from 6,571 in 2002; biggest increase in farms < 10 acres
Food System Projects
Intervale CSA Continued from Page 1
bers were first time CSA shareholders; approximately 70% of members returned for the second year of the CSA. Convenience was addressed by having pre-packaged shares available for pick-up at workplace locations; 85% of members surveyed said they were “very satisfied” with the convenience of their pick-up location. Consumer demand was met by increasing availability of high quality and reasonably priced local food options through most of the calendar year, including a winter share. The majority of shareholders also expressed high satisfaction with the product and customer service received. By working with 20 core farmers, the CSA meets consumer demand for a variety of product mixes and share types without straining the resources of a single farm and efficiently utilizing the expertise
CRS grant funding Continued from Page 1
and community-level information resources for Vermonters. Senator Leahy requested the $228,410 in funds for these projects as part of the 2009 United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) budget. “This is an exciting time in Vermont with the many discussions taking shape about the future of agriculture and food systems, and these projects tap into this evolution,” Senator Leahy said. “These investments will help Vermont’s communities, entrepreneurs, economy and organizations to grow and thrive with the latest technology, resources and partnerships.” CRS staff will use this funding to engage in a broad range of projects that focus on different aspects of community and economic development and Vermont’s food system. “These projects reflect the growing importance of projects related to food systems and their connection to Vermont’s economic vitality and citizen’s health,” said Center for
Rural Studies’ Director Jane Kolodinsky. For example, CRS staff will continue to support the Food System Research Collaborative, Vermont Planning Information Center website (www.vpic.info), Vermont Land Use Education and Training Collaborative, and U.S. Census Bureau’s Vermont State Data Center. Five partner organizations have also received funding through this program for related activities: Vermont Food Venture Center, Vermont FEED (Food Education Every Day), Vermont Council on Rural Development, Vermont Center for Geographic Information, and the Vermont Law School’s Land Use Institute. For more info, contact Chip Sawyer.
total value of direct sales • up from $9,567,000 in 2002
percent acres of principal farm devoted to agriculture operators are women • 21% of state’s land • up from 15% in 2002
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of niche farms. Farm profitability is supported by increasing access to markets and sharing ownership risk with shareholders. For the second year, the CSA coordinator and farms agreed upon the product mix that each farm would supply in the fall and winter prior to the growing season. This model allows farms to plan ahead for growing crops that are designated for the CSA, which ensures farms access to a steady and consistent market and resultant revenue generation. The coordinator supplements any unintended product gaps by continuing to purchase products in “real-time” on a weekly basis, offering farmers an additional sales outlet for their product. To learn more about the Intervale Center, go to www.intervale.org. For more information about this project, contact Michele Cranwell Schmidt or Thomas Desisto.
Source: USDA 2007 Census of Agriculture
Photo by Michele Cranwell Schmidt