Methods for mapping local food production capacity from agricultural statistics

Kathryn T. Morrison, Trisalyn A. Nelson, Aleck S. Ostry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Interest in local food security has increased in the last decade, stemming from concerns surrounding environmental sustainability, small scale agriculture, and community food security. Promotions for consumption of locally produced foods have come from activists, non-governmental organizations, as well as some academic and government research and policy makers. Methods to empirically assess the types and quantities of crops and animals produced locally (i.e., local food production capacity) are under-developed, hindering the ability of policy makers to effect innovative local food security policy. In this paper, we demonstrate methods to estimate local food production capacity using regularly gathered federal Agricultural Census and survey data for a Canadian province. The methods are generalizable to other provinces and nations. Operating at the sub-provincial scale of Local Health Area (LHA), our goal is to integrate census farmland and survey yield data to construct local food production estimates in each LHA. We also assess the stability of these surveyed agricultural yields over time to determine the temporal extent of data required for reasonable representation of product yields. We find that provincial yield data may be used to construct reasonable estimates of local scale food production, due to the high level of regionalization in productive farmland of each product in the province. However, many products exhibit significant yield variability over time, suggesting that, for some foods, local production capacity is a dynamic and variable concept. The methods developed will be useful for researchers and government officials alike, as well as a first step towards more advanced modeling of current local food capacity and future potential.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)491-499
Number of pages9
JournalAgricultural Systems
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • 100-Mile diet
  • Agriculture
  • Local foods
  • Mapping
  • Nutrition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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