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Designing a Foodshed Assessment Model: Guidance for Local and Regional Planners in Understanding Local Farm Capacity in Comparison to Local Food Needs
Master of Regional Planning (M.R.P.)
Year Degree Awarded
Month Degree Awarded
foodshed, local food, land use, food supply, agriculture planning
This thesis explores how to conduct a regional foodshed assessment and further provides guidance to local and regional planners on the use of foodshed assessments. A foodshed is the geographic origin of a food supply. Before the 1800s, foodsheds were predominantly local — within the city or neighboring countryside. Today most urban areas are supported by a global foodshed. While the global foodshed can present many benefits, it also creates tremendous externalities. In an attempt to address these concerns, promotion of alternative local foodsheds has re-emerged. A foodshed assessment serves as a planning tool for land use planners, as well as for local food advocates, offering an understanding of land use implications that is not often carefully considered. By determining the food needs of a region’s population, the land base needed to support that population can then be identified. In this way, planners can have a stronger basis for promoting working farmland preservation measures and strengthening the local foodshed. This thesis compares the approaches of five previous foodshed assessments and presents a model for conducting an assessment on a regional level. This model is then applied to the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts with the goal of determining how much the agricultural production in the Pioneer Valley fulfills the food consumption needs of the region’s population. The assessment also compares the amount of current working farmlands to open lands available for farming, and the extent of farmland necessary to meet regional food demand for various diet types.