Projects: Four Creeks Ag; Farmland in Context of Local Food Strategies
The Agriculture project originated with the work of Janice Hammerstrom, a Green River Community College GIS student, whose effort was coordinated with King County via the Atlas Program. The county had an interest in agriculture GIS data, including an update to their existing inventory of Agriculture Production Districts (APD), while expanding the inventory data to include non-APD areas.
The county was interested in documenting a method to do the GIS work, and the student needed a project for one of her classes. Atlas requested that Janice include a small area of the Four Creeks service area in the work, specifically the May Valley subarea. You can see information about the project in the Student section below.
After the project was completed, Atlas received a grant from King County to repeat the analysis for the entire Four Creeks area, including a more detailed analysis of the optimal uses for the lands in Four Creeks. This became the Four Creeks project described below.
About the same time, Atlas became aware of some work King County was doing to bring together some farmers and some city officials to discuss opportunities for the two groups to help each other.
The county was also starting an effort focused on local food production and local food consumption. Atlas made an initial effort to capture possible GIS projects for this topic in the Farmland project described below.
Student turnover included deliverables for GIS 292 Projects class (proposal, presentation, poster, and land use map example):
Student turnover also included GIS map and data files:
Locally produced agricultural products consumed locally is a hot topic and is the contextual backdrop for the Farmland project.
The 2009 King County FARMS report references local in a number of areas including evidence that farmers are moving to the local strategy.
40 farmers markets in the county and a growing number of farm-to-resturant relationships are evidence of the local effort in King County.
Generally speaking local-to-local is widely popular although there are exceptions.
There are some concerns that Local increases the number of short trucking trips with obvious ecological concerns and, it's expected that product sources not local will be concerned due to potential loss of business.
Ecological concerns are probably real although it can be argued that transportation of large quantities will ultimately require local distribution. Regardless, this project is assuming 1) local benefits outweigh issues, and 2) distribution efficiency can be addressed to mitigate some impacts.
Out-of-local business impacts are real but will not totally be eliminated because not every region's farming will not be optimal for all foods. It's also assumed that business losses outside the region should be mitigated via other local efforts.