agriculture gis

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:

  • Who and where are the producers?
  • What products are being grown and in what quantities?
  • What value-added products are being produced?
  • What agricultural resources currently exist?
  • What infrastructure is lacking?
  • What and 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.


    Michael Nuckols
    Ag & Natural Resources Program Manager
    315-788-8450 ext. 227

    Last updated April 26, 2021