Access to fresh, locally-produced food is a priority for many in King County, just as raising consumer awareness of these products is essential to the success and viability of farms and other agricultural businesses. On July 13, King County launched its new Local Food Finder, a convenient, mobile-friendly, GIS-enabled, interactive map which identifies where and how consumers can get a wide range of locally grown food, flowers, and other agricultural products.
Local Food Finder has been developed by KCGIS Center Spatial Services staff, working closely with the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks Agriculture Program and with Design and Civic Engagement User Experience staff within King County Information Technology. The service uses data on agricultural products and producers which are gathered using surveys developed with ArcGIS Survey123. These surveys have been designed to make it easy for farmers to provide information on food and product availability, and on drop sites and pick-up locations.
King County’s Local Food Team is conducting extensive outreach to local farms, to ensure awareness of these surveys and to encourage and assist farmers and producers in participating. The Local Food Team is also working with Spatial Services staff to verify information provided on the surveys and to confirm that that information is current and accurate before it becomes part of the database which supports the service.
Consumers can use Local Food Finder to locate sources of food products in ten categories:
- Fruits and berries
- Milk and cheese
- Honey, jams, and jellies
- Soap, body care, and candles
Customers can also search the map for farms that are located nearby and offer U-Pick or farm stand sales, as well as those which offer delivery to the consumer’s doorstep or to a nearby pickup location. Local Food Finder also enables customers to find a farm’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, in which farms deliver weekly boxes of their harvest.
Local Food Finder is one of several ways King County is supporting local farmers who have been severely impacted by COVID-19 shutdowns and restrictions which have extensively disrupted farmers markets and restaurant sales. It is a product of the Local Food Initiative which County Executive Dow Constantine created in 2014 to strengthen King County’s local food economy and increase equitable access to healthy, affordable food.
Local Food Finder is also just the latest addition to an always-growing collection of spatially enabled web applications developed by the King County GIS Center for internal and external customers. Whether it’s many-featured, workhorse applications such as iMap and Parcel Viewer, or rapidly deployed lightweight applications such the Eastrail Map, the King County GIS Center team provides effective spatial solutions for its customers and the residents of King County and the Puget Sound region.