Farmacy Project: Produce Prescription Program Spotlight

by Marissa Sheldon, MPH

What they do: The Vermont Farmers Food Center (VFFC)’s Farmacy Project (formerly Health Care Shares) provides fresh, locally-grown produce to individuals with diet-related chronic illnesses and/or food insecurity in Rutland County, Vermont. Farmacy Project members receive 10 to 12 pounds of produce per week, including at least six vegetables and one fruit, for 15 weeks in the summer. They also have the option to re-enroll in the program in subsequent years if their health is improving or remaining stable. 

A newsletter offering food preparation tips and recipe ideas for that week’s produce is included in each box. In previous years, nutrition classes, cooking demonstrations, and individualized wellness coaching have been offered through partnering organizations and institutions, but they are not mandatory components of the program. 

All members complete a pre- and post-program survey to measure self-reported health outcomes including overall wellness status and stress levels, as well as qualitative evaluations of changes in social or dietary behaviors such as total fruit and vegetable consumption, trying new recipes, or visiting a local farm.  

How they do it: VFFC partners with various healthcare providers, including Community Health Centers of the Rutland Region, the Rutland Regional Medical Center (RRMC)‘s Community Health Team, the RRMC Diabetes and Endocrinology Center, the Southwestern Vermont Council on Aging, WIC in Rutland County, the Rutland County Free Clinic, the Vermont Department of Health‘s You First Program, Rutland Mental Health, and other private practices in the area. Healthcare providers enroll patients who they think could benefit from participation in the Farmacy Project by filling out enrollment forms and sending the forms to VFFC. There are no specific health or income eligibility requirements. 

Enrollment numbers vary from year to year, depending on funding, overall capacity, and the capacity of partnering farmers. In 2022, 225 members were enrolled, and 250 will be able to enroll in 2023. The Farmacy Project director, Emma Hileman, allocates a maximum number of referrals to each partnering health clinic, and a waitlist is available after the enrollment maximum has been reached. 

Produce is provided by local Rutland small and emerging farmers, and members pick up their produce boxes at one of eight distribution sites in the region.

Mission: To connect underserved individuals with nutritious, locally-grown food, community programming, and education.

Major Funding: Varies each year but has included: Bowse Health Trust grant through Rutland Regional Medical Center, United Way of Rutland County, Ben and Jerry’s Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Vermont Department of Health, Vermont Community Foundation, Whitehead Foundation, Lookout Foundation, Windham Foundation, and community sponsorships

Profit/nonprofit: Nonprofit

Annual Budget: Varies between $48,000 and $100,000 per year, based on the target number of enrollees each year and overall fundraising totals.

Interesting fact about how it is working to positively affect health: From its onset in 2015 through the end of 2022, the Farmacy Project connected 3,198 Rutland area residents with local produce and invested more than $260,000 back into the local agricultural economy. 


Partnering Healthcare Organizations:
Community Health Centers of the Rutland Region
Multiple Locations

Rutland Regional Medical Center Community Health Team
3 Albert Cree Drive
Rutland, VT 05701

Rutland Diabetes and Endocrinology Center
8 Albert Cree Drive
Rutland, VT 05701

Southwestern Vermont Council on Aging
143 Maple Street
Rutland, VT 05701

WIC in Rutland County
88 Merchants Row
Rutland, VT 05701

Rutland County Free Clinic
145 State Street 
Rutland, VT 05701

Rutland Mental Health
78 South Main St
Rutland, VT 05701

Produce Distribution Sites:
Community Health Brandon
420 Grove Street
Brandon, VT 05733

Community Health Rutland
215 Stratton Road
Rutland, VT 05701

Community Health Castleton
275 Route 30 North
Bomoseen, VT 05732

Community Health Mettowee
278 VT Route 149
West Pawlet, VT 05775

Community Health Shorewell
2987 VT Route 22A
Shoreham, VT 05770

Vermont Farmers Food Center
251 West St
Rutland, VT 05701

Fair Haven Concerned
49 Main St
Fair Haven, VT 05743

Multiple community organizations in Wallingford, VT

Core Programs: Produce prescription program

Number of staff: 3

Number of volunteers: 20

Areas served: Rutland County, Vermont

Year Started: 2015

Project Director: Emma Hileman 

Contact Information: Email:, Phone: 802-342-4219

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