Vermont Research Newsletter - July 18, 2018

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Forest Ownership

Private landowners in Vermont play an important role in maintaining the states’ forests. Unlike many other states, only 20 percent of Vermont’s forests are owned by business or government—leaving more than 4.5 million acres in private ownership. Depending on the number of acres owned, information on land management practices are found at the Backyard Woods Program and the Vermont Woodlands Association.

Farm Food Waste

About 15% of farms’ vegetables and berries never make it to market, according to a recent study. A group of Vermont researchers asked farmers’ estimates of four percentages—available crops that are harvested; unharvested crops considered edible; sold harvested produce; and donated harvested produce, finding that 15 percent of vegetables and 16 percent of berries were considered lost but edible in 2015— amounting to 13,684,000 pounds of vegetables and 589,000 pounds of berries, One solution,  a  state program to compensate farmers who donate this food.  

Women on Vermont Farms   

Vermont researcher Caroline Putscher explored thegender barriers in agriculture in a series of nineteen interviews with women farmers from nine counties.The participants described the structures and missions of their farm businesses and outlined their best practices for everything from employment to support networks. Although there were cases of overt sexism mentioned, the women were generally optimistic as they looked towards the future.  

GMO Labeling Reduces Opposition to GMOs

In spite of the opposition that led Vermont to mandate GMO labeling in 2016, a recent study found that consumers were less opposed to the use of genetically modified ingredients after the law went into effect. Opposition fell by 19 percent in the state after 2016, while it continued to grow nationally from 2014 to 2017. UVM Researcher Jane Kolodinsky has published extensively on the subject.

Pollution in the Lake

Pollution levels in Lake Champlain are detailed in the recent  “2018 State of the Lake” report, from the Lake Champlain Basin Program. Although the polluted areas of the lake have not seen new invasive species since 2014, phosphorus runoff from farms and streets continues to be an ongoing problem. Toxic cyanobacteria blooms—blue-green algae that thrives in high levels of phosphorus—continues to plague areas like Missisquoi Bay.

Vermont's Kids Counting Rating Drops 

Vermont’s ranking in the 2018 Kids Count Data Bookhas dropped from 3rd to 8th. Created by the Casey Foundation, the annual report examines variables to determine children’s overall wellbeing. While Vermont has ranked among the top for decades, the most recent data book notes that the state “has things to work on”—citing low birthweight, lack of high school graduation, and unsatisfactory 4th and 8th grade reading levels, among other elements.

Cannabis Legalization

new study evaluated the recent policy changes in Cannabis Regulation in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maryland, and Vermont finding a 75 percent reduction in the rate of youth drug-related arrests.

A recent report published by Colorado State University’s Institute of Cannabis Research  suggests Vermont may be missing out on an economic growth opportunity by  not allowing retail sales. The report estimates that themarijuana industry had a net positive economic impact of more than $35 million on a Colorado county in 2016—and predicted a 5-year impact of over $100 million Read the Denver Post article here

Acupuncture and Chronic Pain

Acupuncture can feasibly treat chronic pain, and is associated with improvements in physical, functional, psycho-emotional, and occupational outcomes, saysnew research by Wake Forest University and Vermont researchers. Their study was conducted by giving 12 acupuncture treatments to 126 Vermont Medicaid patients with chronic pain and assessing their wellbeing after the sessions.

New Books

A late-in-life love connection between two widowed Vermonters comes to life in Mary Kathleen Mehuron’s most recent novel, The Opposite of Never. With the state’s familiar landmarks as the story’s backdrop, the couple navigate problems all too familiar to Vermont residents—a harrowing opiate addiction grips the protagonist’s stepdaughter, leading to tests of forgiveness and unconditional love.
Vermont author Reeve Lindbergh returns to her roots in a new memoir elaborating on her life as daughter of the famed aviators Charles and Anne Lindbergh, Two LivesAs the title implies, Lindbergh focuses on theduality of her existence—her hectic, parent-oriented life in the public eye contrasted with her comparatively quiet private life in rural Vermont.


Richard A. Watts