Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 87–97 | Cite as

Farm to institution programs: organizing practices that enable and constrain Vermont’s alternative food supply chains

  • Sarah N. Heiss
  • Noelle K. Sevoian
  • David S. Conner
  • Linda Berlin


Farm to institution (FTI) programs represent alternative supply chains that aim to organize the activities of local producers with institutions that feed the local community. The current study demonstrates the value of structuration theory (Giddens in J Theory Soc Behav 13(1):75–80, 1983; The constitution of society: outline of the theory of structuration. University of California Press, Berkeley, 1984) for conceptualizing how FTI agents create, maintain, and change organizational structures associated with FTI and traditional supply chains. Based on interviews with supply chain agents participating in FTI programs, we found that infrastructure, relationships, and pricing were seen as important factors that enabled and constrained FTI organizing. Additionally, we describe how FTI organizing serves to simultaneously reinforce and challenge the practices associated with traditional supply chains. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed as well as directions for future research.


Farm to institution Supply chain dynamics Food systems Structuration theory 



Farm to institution


Food service director


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah N. Heiss
    • 1
  • Noelle K. Sevoian
    • 2
  • David S. Conner
    • 1
  • Linda Berlin
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Community Development and Applied EconomicsUniversity of VermontBurlingtonUSA
  2. 2.Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and MarketsBurlingtonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Nutrition and Food SciencesUniversity of VermontBurlingtonUSA

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