Linking adaptive management to climate change impacts on diversified vegetable and berry farms in northern New England

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2017: $13,385.00
Projected End Date: 05/31/2019
Grant Recipient: University of Vermont
Region: Northeast
State: Vermont
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Dr. V. Ernesto Mendez
University of Vermont

Information Products


Not commodity specific


  • Crop Production: drought tolerance, water management
  • Education and Training: focus group, participatory research
  • Farm Business Management: risk management, whole farm planning

    Proposal abstract:

    What information do farmers and outreach professionals need to best support vegetable and berry growers in adapting to the impacts of climate change? Based on the premise that farmers are actively adapting to climate change, this project draws upon the expertise of 250 vegetable and berry farmers in Northern New England to identify information critical to supporting climate change adaptation and overcoming the climate information usability gap.

    In year 1 of this project, 250 farmers will participate in surveys to identify: 1) practices already in use to manage for drought and extreme precipitation, 2) promising strategies for managing drought and extreme precipitation at multiple scales, 3) perceived barriers and tradeoffs associated with these strategies, and 4) in depth information about the of use of cover crops, one practice which is widely advocated and confirmed to buffer the impacts of drought and extreme precipitation.

    Year 2 of this project will convene 90 farmers in focus groups to make recommendations about how to best support their peers and particularly vulnerable community members, in planning for extreme weather risks. Rigorous qualitative analysis of this research project draws upon and adds to scholarly research on adaptive management to climate change, diffusion theory, the co-production of knowledge, and climate science communication.

    A final report with data from year 1 and year 2 will be presented to farmer groups and regional extension professionals who support vegetable and berry farmers. Results will be reported through diverse outreach channels mediated by extension and farmer organizations.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Identify and assess the adaptive strategies already in use by vegetable and berry farmers in Northern New England to address drought and extreme precipitation.

    2. Identify promising strategies for managing drought and extreme precipitation on vegetable and berry farms in Northern New England.

    3. Assess influences on adaptive farm management decisions, including what sources of information are most influential, the perceived benefits and tradeoffs of adaptive practices, and what weather prediction tools are in use.

    4. Analyze and compare adaptive management practices in use across geographic regions within NNE and across farmer network affiliations, and compare this to extant research and literature.

    5. Evaluate the perceived benefits and drawbacks of cover crops on vegetable and berry farms in Northern New England, and compare this to recommendations in extant research and literature.

    6. Bridge the localized expertise of farmers with science-based expertise, and regionalized outreach experts to identify the information, resources, communication styles and support needed to help farmers adapt to climate change.

    7. Apply a farmer’s first approach to research which addresses the climate information usability gap.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.