A Mixed-methods Examination of the Geospatial and Sociodemographic Context of a Direct-to-Consumer Food System Innovation


  • Jared T. McGuirt University of North Carolina at Greensboro
  • Marilyn Sitaker The Evergreen State College
  • Stephanie B. Jilcott Pitts East Carolina University
  • Alice S. Ammerman University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Jane Kolodinsky University of Vermont https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7322-0889
  • Rebecca A. Seguin-Fowler Texas A&M University https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5115-2341




Direct to Consumer, Community Supported Agriculture, Geographic Information Systems, Spatial Context


Spatial context may be important to direct to con­sumer (DTC) programs aimed at improving fresh fruit and vegetable access for low-income individu­als. The purpose of this study was to examine the sociodemographic and geospatial context (distance to pickup sites, number and density of proximal food retail outlets, etc.) surrounding community supported agriculture (CSA) pickup locations in relation to low-income customer residential loca­tions, and to synthesize this information with inter­view-derived perspectives on the challenges and opportunities of the pickup location from DTC producers and customers. This in-depth study examined cost-offset community supported agri­culture (CO-CSA) operations across four U.S. states (New York, North Carolina, Vermont, and Washington) and varying pickup sites (n=23), with pickup operational decisions determined by farm­ers (n=12). Physical addresses of farms, CO-CSA customers, and pickup sites were collected and geocoded. Geographic information systems (GIS) was used to examine road network distances for pickup locations across the study sites. Demo­graphic information at the census block level (e.g., percent racial minority, percent poverty level) was obtained for all study sites. Descriptive statistics were generated for geospatial variables. In-depth interviews with farmers and focus groups with CO-CSA customers were conducted to understand experiences with the CO-CSA in terms of physical access of pickup sites. We found that pickup sites were an average of 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) from customers’ homes, and on average, further than the supermarket (2.9 miles or 4.7 km). Farmers reported their efforts to select convenient pickup locations for low-income customers, though CO-CSA customers expressed mixed levels of accessi­bility. Spatial inaccessibility and differences in soci­odemographic data for customer versus pickup may explain perceived inaccessibility for some cus­tomers. These findings may help inform future approaches to plan and evaluate DTC operations targeting low-income individuals by consider­ing geospatial context and stakeholder experiences.

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Author Biographies

Jared T. McGuirt, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Assis­tant Professor, Department of Nutrition

Marilyn Sitaker, The Evergreen State College

Ecological Agriculture and Food Systems

Stephanie B. Jilcott Pitts, East Carolina University

Professor, Department of Public Health, Brody School of Medicine

Alice S. Ammerman, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Director, Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention; Professor, Department of Nutrition, Gillings School of Global Public Health, School of Medicine

Jane Kolodinsky, University of Vermont

Director, Center for Rural Studies; Professor, Department of Community Development and Applied Economics

Rebecca A. Seguin-Fowler, Texas A&M University

Associate Professor, Department of Nutrition & Food Science

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How to Cite

McGuirt, J., Sitaker, M., Jilcott Pitts, S., Ammerman, A., Kolodinsky, J., & Seguin-Fowler, R. (2019). A Mixed-methods Examination of the Geospatial and Sociodemographic Context of a Direct-to-Consumer Food System Innovation. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 9(A), 159–177. https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2019.091.038

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