University of Maryland

Local Food Systems and Information Technology

Food safety, community resilience, nutrition and health, reduced environmental impact, local economic development, and social capital are just a few of the benefits of local food systems.  However, developing and maintaining thriving local and regional food systems is non-trival.

The goal of the Local Food Systems and Information Technology project is to identify ways that emerging information technologies, such as social networking systems and cloud computing, can be used to strengthen local food systems and the small/mid-sized farms and businesses that are part of them.


  • Cathy Ridings – Lehigh University
  • Brian Butler ( – University of Maryland
  • Zach Zacharia – Lehigh University
  • Diane Travis – University of Maryland
  • Jacqueline Pike – Duquesne University

Papers, Reports and Other Publications


  • Butler, Brian; Travis, Diane; Ridings, Catherine; & Zacharias, Zach (2014, May) Taking the C Seriously: Building Communities in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Programs. 16th Annual National Value-Added Agriculture Conference/The Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development “What Works III” Conference, Baltimore, MD. (Slides (PDF) & Abstract)
  • Butler, Brian; Ridings, Catherine; Zacharias, Zach; & Travis, Diane (2013, August) Impacts of Relationship-Based Online Marketing and Social Media Use on Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Programs.  USDA Local Food Impacts Meeting, Washington DC. (Slides (PDF) & Abstract)
  • Ridings, Catherine & Butler, Brian. The Use of Information Technology to Alter Search Costs in Local Food Systems.  Presented at the 2010 NAREA Workshop: “The Economics of Local Food Markets” June 15-16, 2010, Atlantic City, NJ.
  • Ridings, Catherine; Butler, Brian; & Pike, Jacqueline “Information Technology and Identity/Legitimacy in Local Food Systems”, Presented at Twelfth annual joint meeting of the Association for the Study of Food and Society (ASFS), Agriculture, Food and Human Values Society (AFHVS), and the Annual meeting of the Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition (SAFN), June 2-5, 2010, Bloomington, IN.

Funding and Grants

  • USDA (12-25-A-5662) –  Measuring Impacts of Relational Marketing Practices and Social Media Use on Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Outcomes.

Research Resources (Datasets, Surveys, Interview Protocols etc.)

Other Resources about CSAs, Local Food, Information and Technology