From Agriculture to Manufacturing and Back: Old Industrial Zones and Prospective Incubators for Local Food Systems
There is significant competition for local and state resources to support development of infrastructure for the local foods movement. These resources, however, are frequently allocated to locations which have political persuasion rather than which are necessarily good locations for food system development. As such, limited local food system (LFS) resources are not efficiently allocated. With the intent to offer an improved strategy for allocating local food system resources, this study proposes a novel approach to identifying areas which would be appropriate for local food system development. Successful local food systems bring buyers and supply of these products together in place. Through the use of GIS mapping, locations which have the soil, water, environmental characteristics, and labor inputs needed to be agriculturally productive can be identified. Overlaying this with areas which have sufficient nearby demand potential offers important insight into where LFS systems might flourish. This study examines old industrial zones (OIZ) in South Carolina as an instructive case example. There is interest in repurposing abandoned textile mill areas; local food system hubs have been suggested as a possible use. An inventory of 97 potential sites were identified and examined as to their suitability for local foods production. Of these, only 11 sites (11.3%) were found to be well suited to both the production of agricultural produce and were sufficiently close to sources of potential demand to be worth LFS development efforts. Results from this approach are likely to be useful to areas who are suitable candidates for a LFS but who have not have not been successful in generating sufficient support for its development.
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