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Abstract or Description

The idea for organizing a cooperative market on Waterville Main Street was proposed by Aime Schwartz in the fall of 2008. The Co-op would entail an open market located on Main Street to provide fresh, local produce and crafts to town locals. Through shorter delivery distances and agreements with local farmers, the co-op theoretically will offer consumers lower prices on produce than can be found in conventional grocery stores, as well as an opportunity to support local agriculture. One of the tasks involved with organizing the Co-op is to source all of the produce from among the hundreds of farmers located in Maine. The purpose of this project is to show how Geographic Information System (GIS) tools can be used to help the Co-op and other businesses a) site nearby farms that carry desired produce and products, and b) determine which farms are closest to the business site. Using GIS for this purpose will make it easier and more efficient to source produce suppliers, and reduce the workload on business planners. GIS Network Analyst is a tool that provides network-based spatial analysis, and can be used in conjunction with traditional GIS technologies to determine not only the geometric distance between points, but also distance over existing networks (like roads). We used Network Analyst to find the closest produce suppliers to the Co-op for specific produce items, and compute how far they are over existing roads. This will enable business planners to source potential suppliers by distance before contacting individual farmers, allowing for more efficient use of their time and a faster planning process.

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