DePaul Map of the Month


Claire Jones


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Claire Jones completed her map exploring “Women and Sustainable Agriculture” in GEO 344 – GIS III: Spatial Analysis for Sustainability. As numbers of women farm operators are rising, they are farming differently. Unlike their male counterparts, women are largely choosing to run sustainable small farms. Sustainable agriculture likewise has gained momentum in the United States during the past few decades. These types of systems have multiple benefits. Farms that sell directly to individuals benefit the local food system as well as the economy. Therefore, if women farm operator numbers are rising, and these operators are choosing to run their farms sustainably, the effect could be very positive for the criticized food system in the United States.

The purpose of this map was to show that in states where women operator numbers increased, sustainable food systems were likely to grow as well. Sustainability was shown through direct sales to individuals, such as purchases from farmers’ markets, CSAs, or on farm purchases. ArcGIS, as well as data from the USDA’s Census of Agriculture, was used to visually demonstrate this positive correlation. The map shows a positive relationship between the two variables, specifically in the southwest and northeast. Although a small number of states noticed decreases of either variable, these decreases were all less than ten percent (10%). Contrastingly, the percentage increases were exponentially greater. For example, Arizona noticed an almost two hundred fifty percent (250%) increase in the number of women farm operators. This information provides agricultural researchers with the knowledge of sustainable agriculture hotspots and those conducting it. Most importantly, this map shows the shifting of attitudes in the United States towards women farmers and sustainable food systems. Women are challenging the way that food is produced and sold in the United States and consumers are supporting these systems.


food, agriculture, farming, USA, women, work, sustainability

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