GIS System Helps Bring Local Food to the Table
Geospatial science assistant professor Andrew Foy and his undergraduate geospatial science students are creating a GIS system to connect local farmers with buyers of their goods -- food processors, food co-ops, grocery stores, farmer's markets and restaurants. The goal is to use technology to create a more efficient regional food network to disseminate local produce and goods to those who will help get it to the dinner tables of southwest Virginians.
Foy and the Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD) organization are working together on the USDA funded project. This system incorporates an interactive map pinpointing all buyers, farmers and processors participating in the organizations food distribution network. ASD fosters local grower access to wholesale and direct markets and processing, aggregation and distribution services.
Foy’s system will help the organization communicate and plan with local growers about what produce is available at their farm for pick up in its trucks and the best route to take to get it to those who would buy and consume it. This will increase the productivity of the distribution process and therefore create a positive economic impact for the farmers involved. “In the past, sometimes these trucks were only a quarter full of goods to be delivered. With this system, ASD will be able to better organize the routes to visit multiple farms to pick up goods to deliver to the buyer. Then ASD will check the system to see if farms near the buyer have goods for pick-up. That way the organization can have a full load for the return trip too and be more efficient,” says Foy.
This GIS system is housed in the RU GIS Center in the Department of Geospatial Science.