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Gwendolyn Hawkins, Stephanie E. Burnett and Lois B. Stack

In 2008, we administered a survey to participants at four venues in Maine to determine: 1) the degree of interest in organically, sustainably, and locally grown plants; 2) whether respondents would pay more for these plants compared with conventional plants; and 3) which demographic groups expressed the greatest interest in organically, sustainably, or locally grown plants. Respondents were highly interested in organic and sustainable vegetable/herb and ornamental plants; median interest was 9 on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 indicated low interest and 10 indicated high interest. They were less interested in locally grown plants; respondents’ median interest in local plants was 6 on the same scale. Survey respondents stated that they would pay 15% more (vegetable/herbs) or 10% more (ornamentals) for organic, sustainable, or local plants than they would for conventionally grown plants. Several demographic factors indicated that respondents were either willing to spend more money on nonconventional plants, or were at least more interested in these kinds of plants. Income and education were positively correlated with the amount of money respondents stated they would spend on nonconventional plants. Younger participants were more interested than older participants in sustainable and organic plants, but they were not willing to pay more for these plants than older participants. Similarly, women were more interested than men in nonconventional plants, but were not likely to spend more on them than men. This survey indicated that there is a strong market for organic and sustainable vegetable, herb, and ornamental plants. Growers could potentially charge 10% to 15% more for these plants than for conventionally grown plants. They would likely receive the highest premium for organic and sustainable plants from individuals with higher incomes and education levels.