Essex County, Vermont is a rural county in Vermont's "Northeast Kingdom." It has the smallest population of any Vermont county, estimated at 6,394 in July 2009. The population density is just 10 people per square mile, with a land area of approximately 665 square miles. Unemployment has recently been estimated to be 9.2%. Approximately 6% of Essex County land is considered to be in agricultural use, for a total of 26,732 acres, with the average farm size 202 acres.

Low population density means long drives for many residents to reach healthy food options. There are two grocery stores and four convenience stores within the county, as well as ten restaurants. A recent report estimated that just 10% of the population has access to healthy food, defined as the percent of residential zip codes with a grocery store, produce stand or farmers' market.

For this project, the site for our research is the whole county. Our partners in this area include: