Regional Food Systems Research at Penn State

Last summer, Penn State’s Agriculture Department got a $5 million USDA grant to study food systems and food security: “Enhancing Food Security in the Northeast with Regional Food Systems.”

Article here. Data from these studies could help with the Spring Creek Homesteading Fund’s mapping process.


The project will explore the benefits of re-regionalizing the food system…Using large-scale GIS analyses across the nearly 300 counties in the Northeast, researchers will assess production capacity — including climate and soil suitability for different crops — food processing infrastructure, distribution channels, retail stores and consumption preferences.

[Project director Stephan] Goetz [professor of agricultural and regional economics and director of the Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development at Penn State] said the project is unique and significant in three ways.

“First, we focus explicitly on the regional rather than national or local level,” he explained. “The regional scale — which incorporates local aspects — may be optimal for assuring adequate and affordable food supplies over time.

“Second, we take a systems approach that links production, distribution and consumption processes in a deliberate and logical way to expand knowledge and understanding of these complex systems and support action on the ground in our partner communities.

“Finally, this project will develop and integrate innovative research methods…”

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