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Rural consumer response to a food distribution innovation that connects farmers, retailers, and buyers

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 March 2021

Zoe van Vlaanderen*
Center for Rural Studies, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT, USA
Marilyn Sitaker
Ecological Agriculture and Food Systems, Evergreen State College, Olympia, Washington, USA
Weiwei Wang
Center for Rural Studies, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT, USA
Jane Kolodinsky
Center for Rural Studies, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT, USA Department of Community Development and Applied Economics, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT, USA
Author for correspondence: Zoe van Vlaanderen, E-mail:


The Farm Fresh Food Box (F3B) strategy is a hybrid of direct-to-consumer (DTC) and short value chain models that aims to stimulate rural economies, creates an additional sales avenue for small farmers, provides rural grocery stores with increased foot traffic and overcomes barriers for rural consumers who are unable to access local food. The F3B project is a tri-state collaboration of extension and research partners from three states; two on the West Coast and one in the Northeast United States, involving small farmers and retailers from rural communities. This article analyzes F3B consumer surveys from 2 years of project implementation and contributes to the limited body of research on food box models by identifying benefits and barriers of the F3B strategy for consumers, comparing these findings to existing research on food box programs and other DTC market channels, and discussing implications for future model adjustment. Overall, consumers were pleased with all aspects of the F3B. However, the strategy had limited success with reaching a new demographic of local food consumers.

Research Paper
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press

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