Toolkit for Mapping a Food System
Producers, Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE), and other
stakeholders in New York State’s Jefferson, Lewis, Oswego, and St. Lawrence
counties have been working to strengthen the local food system through
technical assistance and development of markets, primarily a food hub that
would serve producers in the four contiguous counties. The objective is to
improve profitability of local producers and increase accessibility to local
foods. The need for a comprehensive, mappable database was quickly identified.
The use of Geographic Information System (GIS) technology has proven crucial in
organizing data needed to find logistical solutions regarding the local food
system, connecting producers to markets and technical resources, and answering
questions such as:
where are the producers?
products are being grown and in what quantities?
value-added products are being produced?
agricultural resources currently exist?
infrastructure is lacking?
where are the possible markets, and how do we connect them to producers?
CCE staff conducted extensive outreach visiting farms and
collecting information that could then be viewed on ArcGIS mapping software.
Feedback from initial field testing identified needed enhancements, resulting
in a more effective and accurate dataset. In addition, the database was found
to have many uses beyond its initial intent. These include broadening
producers’ networks with markets and resources, introducing existing products
into new markets, and serving as a critical tool for communication and fund
development. This toolkit, used as replicable system of data collection, will
help users better understand their local food systems.
Last updated April 26, 2021