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Lembo Partners with Cornell, Tufts to Map Foodsheds

SALISBURY, MD---Dr. Art Lembo of Salisbury University’s Geography and Geosciences Department is working with colleagues at Cornell and Tufts universities to explore foodsheds through a $790,000 W.K. Kellogg Foundation grant.  Like watersheds, foodsheds are geographic areas that supply food to populations.

“There are great risks to food security in our country and the world, due to transportation and production costs, and political instability,” Lembo said.  “Foodshed analysis allows us to better understand the sources, and potential sources, of food.  SU is using cutting edge technology to explore these spatial relationships.”

“Dr. Lembo developed a web-based GIS program that mapped potential, local foodsheds for New York and his expertise is essential as we expand this work to other regions,” said Dr. Christian Peters of Tufts University.

The work is an extension of the Mapping Local Food Systems project, previous research funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that examined New York’s ability to supply its own food needs.  This time, Lembo and the team are applying their models to Michigan, Mississippi and New Mexico, and ultimately across the U.S.

“The project goal is to improve our understanding of the land requirements of the human diet and the capacity for producing more of our food through local and regional food systems,” Peters explained.  As agricultural has become more industrialized, foodsheds have become increasingly global.

Lembo’s portion of the project is $60,000.  SU senior Bryan Thom, a geography major from Abingdon, MD, is assisting.

Another SU faculty member is examining foodsheds for the Delmarva Peninsula.  Initial research by Dr. Shawn McEntee of the Sociology Department indicates that approximately 60,000 acres (less than 4 percent) of current Delmarva farmland, if farmed with sustainable agricultural practices, would meet the annual dietary requirements of the peninsula’s population of 400,000.

“Diversifying agricultural production, especially through support of small farms that directly market food, will increase food security on the geographically isolated peninsula,” she said.  “Couple this infrastructural support with the ongoing transition to sustainable practices, and the peninsula has a secure, local foodshed that provides jobs, protects our environment and ensures the health and well-being of its inhabitants far into the future.”

For more information, call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU Web site at