Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Using Digital Tools to Map Food Access

In 2015, Community Agroecology Network (CAN) began Growing Justice, a new initiative that focuses on urban gardens, food justice, and community well-being in Watsonville and Pajaro, California. Despite their location in the agriculturally-rich Pajaro Valley, food insecurity is on the rise. Food security refers to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that fulfills household dietary needs and preferences. Often, the very people who labor in the food system are unable to put enough healthy food on the table for their own families.


With support from the Everett Program at UC Santa Cruz, CAN and the Digital Nest in Watsonville, UCSC student, Sophia Bassett, conducted a three-day workshop that introduced students, from 8th grade to college, issues surrounding food access in Watsonville using digital mapping elements and tools through Google's My Maps. The students learned how to collect original data using GPS phone apps and surveys done on iPads. Next, they learned how to upload the data and visualize it. The students were also able to compare their data to existing census data to understand the power of visually presenting information. One student compared which was more accessible, fruit or fast food? Another compared the availability of produce and fast food restaurants with an overlay of median income ($32,000). A third compared vegetable quality and prices in nearby markets to mean household income ($39,378.) for a specific area in Watsonville. Learn more about this work and see the student maps.

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