Date of Award

Spring 2021

Project Type


Program or Major

Natural Resources

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

John M. Halstead

Second Advisor

Scott Lemos

Third Advisor

Catherine Ashcraft


There has been a recent focus on expanding local agriculture production in New Hampshire, and more information on consumer decision making in regard to local food purchasing is needed. Expansion of local food production and consumption has been of great interest in the past several years, with many consumers becoming increasingly curious about where their food comes from. Concerns about disease, environmental damage, fossil fuel usage, and recently food chain disruption due to COVID-19 as well as the health of local economies have fostered this awareness about the origins of our food (Onozaka et al. 2010; Thilmany et al. 2020). This thesis uses results from focus groups consisting of New Hampshire residents to inform a state-wide survey on consumer behavior, attitudes, and characteristics relating to local produce. Results are used to identify factors that influence consumption of local produce. For the purpose of this study, “local produce” is defined as any fruit or vegetable grown in the New England region. The qualitative results indicate that the average consumer of local produce is older, has a higher income, and has more formal education than the average New Hampshire resident. Additionally, there is correlation between social capital-related factors and increased purchasing of local produce. Consumers who value supporting local business and purchase local produce due to the sense of community surrounding it have a higher probability of purchasing significant amounts of their produce locally compared to consumers who do not value these attributes. The effects of only two explanatory variables proved to be statistically significant in the binary regression model, representing the amount of local produce purchased during the winter months, and variety as a factor for determining food shopping location. The combination of the qualitative and quantitative results allow for a better understanding of what factors drive local produce purchasing among New Hampshire residents.