GIS Project: Foodshed Model of Freiburg

In the context of our GIS course, we – Lukas, Patrick, and Sebastian – were wondering: How much and what kind of land would be required to feed Freiburg locally?

This lead us to conduct a GIS-based foodshed analysis for our beloved City of Freiburg. The concept of the foodshed encompasses the amount of land required to feed the population in a particular area.

In order to calculate Freiburg’s food needs, we used some statistical data on organic food production and average food uptake per individual in Germany. We then applied some geospatial tools to prepare the data on arable land in the vicinity of Freiburg. The last step was to build a model which would seek out the most suitable (closest and arable) lands through an iterative process.

By the means of our GIS-model, we were able to calculate the foodshed to be a circular area of arable land with a radius of almost 22 km surrounding Freiburg. This is only a suggestive estimate and there are plenty of ways we can still improve our model. Still, this project was an exciting experience! We learned how to systematically approach a critical question of public concern, like in this case the feasibility of local food supply, and yielded a first working model to continue further investigations. Maybe some day, we will have models elaborate enough to support public policy decisions on whether local food systems are truly desirable and, if yes, how they could be managed?!

Anyway, feel free to check out our final report (pdf) in case you are interested how we got inspired and what the nitty gritty of our work looks like. Cheers!

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