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.

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Dairy Industry | Water Quality & PFOA | Marijuana | Vermont Agency Of Agriculture

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Hungry for more?
Check out the VPR Café for more on food in Vermont, and The Vermont Garden Journal for gardening wisdom from Charlie Nardozzi.

Marjan Cermelj / ISTOCK

It's been a good year for tomatoes in my garden. I've canned, frozen and juiced lots of fruits, so I'm all set for winter. But there's more to tomatoes than just the garden variety hybrids and heirlooms. One of the best tomato relatives to grow is the tomatillo.

Vermont's current use program allows working forest and agricultrual land to be taxed at a much lower rate.
Toby Talbot / Associated Press/File

In 1980, the state rolled out a program that would allow agricultural and forest land to be taxed for its use rather than its market value. The current use program has gone through some changes over its almost-four-decade life. Vermont Edition explains the complexities of current use.

Maple syrup in glass leaf-shaped bottles.
Toby Talbot / Associated Press File

After announcing earlier this summer that they would reconsider a proposed "added sugar" label on maple syrup and honey, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has officially decided to scrap that plan.

Kelly Van Dellen / ISTOCK

With a switch to more seasonable weather, fall is starting to take hold. While drought and heat stress have some of our maples turning color already, the big show this time of year is the wildflowers in our meadows. Goldenrod, Queen Anne's lace and asters are blooming. These fall wildflowers are an essential food source for butterflies and insects. While you certainly can plant a wildflower meadow and enjoy the beauty of the annual and perennial flowers, managing your existing meadow is also important.

Moats: Labor Today

Sep 3, 2018
Saklakova / iStock

Vermont’s labor history includes the farm work that took place in virtually every town — the farm families who labored every day to till rocky fields, bring in the crops and tend to their animals.

undefined undefined / ISTOCK

One practice I try to do in my garden is never let the soil stay bare. Each year as I remove vegetables such as garlic, beans, and lettuce, I cover crop those areas. Covering the soil with plant material prevents erosion and builds up the fertility and workability of your soil.

VPR Cafe: Sweet Doe Dairy's New Twist On Gelato

Aug 31, 2018
Mike and Lisa Davis use the milk of Nigerian Dwarf goats to make gelato at Sweet Doe Dairy in Chelsea, Vermont.
Sarah Priestap / Seven Days

During a recent round-up of summer farmers market finds, Seven Days food writer, Hannah Palmer Egan, was taken with a new spin on a sweet treat from a Chelsea dairy: gelato. The Italian-style ice cream was born around the year 1600. Fast-forward 500-plus years to present day Vermont where we find the frozen confection still being created similarly, but with a twist from Sweet Doe Dairy. 

Thankful Photography / istock

The naming of plants can be deceiving. Take the Rose of Sharon shrub that's blooming now around the state. This plant isn't in the rose family. Even the botanical name, Hibiscus Syriacus is only half correct. It has a hibiscus or mallow-shaped flower, but the shrub doesn't hail from Syria, more likely India or China.

VPR Cafe: Cookbook Author Explores Changes To Traditional Recipes

Aug 22, 2018
Copies of Joan Nathan's new cookbook on display during one of her recent stops in Burlington.
Oliver Parini / Seven Days

When we think of the foods from a particular culture, we usually don't pay much attention to how it's influenced and has changed as it carries to other places. But a noted cookbook author has done just that in tracking how Jewish dishes have been altered around the globe.

Christy Mihaly's first illustrated book for children is a rhyming picture book about making hay.
Holiday House publishers, courtesy

Vermont’s farms are the stuff of legend. The iconic barn, the determined farmer, the sturdy tractor and fresh-cut fields bursting with towering bales of hay. But you wouldn't be the first to realize — hey, there are no stories about hay!

East Calais author Christy Mihaly's new illustrated children's book aims to fill that gap in your child's bookshelf.


We've waited a long time for peaches, pears, and apples to mature. The last thing we want to see on our daily fruit stroll is no fruit. Squirrels, birds, raccoons and opossums love the fruits hanging from our trees. What really bugs me is that often they will take a peck or bite, knock the fruits off the tree and leave it. What poor manners!

VPR Cafe: Poké Arrives In Vermont

Aug 16, 2018
Scale Poké Bar has been serving Hawaiian-style poké bowls since March in Williston's Kismet Place.
Oliver Parini / Seven Days

Like sushi, poké (pronounced POH-keh) is a dish that includes raw fish; however, with Hawaiian roots, it offers a wide range of other ingredients including pasta, beets, greens and fruit. Poké is typically served in a bowl, has become a nationwide food trend and has finally arrived in Vermont.


With our changing climate, I've noticed fall has become a great time to garden. Specifically, we like to plant crops that mature in the cool, fall weather. I've found with our extended falls, by planting crops that can take a light freeze, we can have an abundance of fresh veggies in autumn beyond winter squash, leeks and potatoes.

VPR Cafe: Vermont Cheesemakers Pass The Baton

Aug 10, 2018
After 35 years, cheese makers Marian Pollack (left) and Marjorie Susman, will be stepping back from the business on their historic Orb Weaver Farm in Monkton.
Caleb Kenna / Seven Days

For more than 35 years, the owners of Orb Weaver Farm have been makeing a Colby-style cheese from the milk of their Jerseys. But that's about to change.

Gardening expert Charlie Nardozzi offers advice on battling bugs, harvesting your bounty and planting for fall.
Ric Cengeri / VPR

What a wonderful time to be a gardener: summer, when all that prep work and planting from earlier in the year turns into ripe veggies and flowers. But it might also be the time of year when you need the most advice from a gardening expert.


With all the talk about Russia in the news, it got me thinking about a plant that's actually a good thing. Russian sage is actually not Russian nor in the sage family. It hales from the steppes of Central Asia and it's in the mint family. Its botanical name comes from the Russian General Perovskia, who campaigned in this region in the 1800's. The plant does emit an odor when the leaves are crushed, but this sage isn't used for cooking. It does have a history of being used medicinally and as a dye plant.

VPR Cafe: Crossing The Lake For A Meal And Some Scenery

Aug 2, 2018
The Old Dock Restaurant & Marina in Essex, NY, offers a full menu and stunning views.
Glenn Russell / Seven Days

While only a few miles apart, traveling between towns in Vermont and New York, separated by Lake Champlain, isn't an every-day commute for everyone. But when you do find time to hop the ferry, there's adventure and delicious food across the water. 

A cow looking through a fence.
Angela Evancie / VPR

On Tuesday, the Trump administration announced a $12 billion aid package for farmers hurt by the administration's trade policy. But details on the plan remain scarce, and Vermont officials are waiting to see what impact it will have on the state's agriculture sector.

Calla lilies are a southern favorite but can also grow well in Vermont during hot, summer weather.
David Gomez / iStock

“The calla lilies are in bloom again. Such a strange flower—suitable to any occasion. I carried them on my wedding day, and now I place them here in memory of something that has died.” Katherine Hepburn in the movie, "Stage Door," had one thing right about calla lilies - they are a versatile flower.

VPR Cafe: Farmers Market Season In Full Swing

Jul 26, 2018
Fresh produce at The Capital City Farmers Market from LaPage Farm in Barre.
Hannah Palmer Egan / Seven Days

Making a weekly stop at your local farmers market is a common event for many, especially during summer. But consider breaking away from your go-to market to explore the farmers and vendors selling their wares in a neighboring town or another part of the state.