Alternative Profit Potentials for Rural Indiana

David Ferguson
Department of Landscape Architecture
Ball State University


Leslie Smith
Department of Landscape Architecture
Ball State University

The project known as Alternative Profit Potentials for Rural Indiana was originally developed to demonstrate an approach to comprehensive rural development which looks at regional production networks and individual farm sites simultaneously. The process attempts to integrate economic, ecological, and social development strategies, using computer-based information management techniques to capitalize on new visions for the small to medium-sized farmstead. The case-study region was in Henry County, Indiana and the case study site was an existing farmstead along I-70 in Henry County.

The project was conducted as a cooperative effort between the Department of Landscape Architecture and the Center for Energy Research, Education and Service (CERES) at Ball State University, and the Indiana Commissioner's Office for Agriculture and Rural Development.
The primary goal of this on-going initiative has been to find a way to aid and stimulate the redirection of rural land use toward more effective and profitable agricultural productivity. Crop diversification and value-added processing are the primary means of economic redirection. A larger intent is to reverse the conversion of farmland to irreversable land uses (i.e., urban development, housing development, etc.). The strategy is to maintain appropriate ecological balance and land-resource diversity and to establish a communication and marketing network within Indiana, creating partnersips between untapped urban market demands and unique agricultural and rural-based production.
Report Contents:

Defining the Problem
     The case for alternative agriculture

The Structure of the Study
     The procedure
     The phasing
     The recommendations

Phase I: Regional Opportunities
     Overlay modeling
     A case study for GIS
     Mapping criteria
     Composite results

Phase II: Farm-Site Development
     Option One: A community facility
     Option Two: A private-sector farm
     Option Three: Research and education facility
          and housing

Phase III: Appropriate Technology      Sustainable farmstead design


     Regional opportunities
     Farm-site development

A Direction for the Future
The first phase of the project involved a Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping process to determine whether potentially profitable alternative crops can be grown on marginally farmed lands in east central Indiana. The computerized mapping technique was used at the county level initially, with a more detailed study of the 170 acre farm case study site. The farm, once mapped for selected alternative cropping patterns, was then used to examine site-scale design issues. Site issues included alternative layouts of a prototypical farm which could explore various arrangements of alternative crops, energy and work flow relationships, and appropriate technology.

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Author | Last Modification: June, 1998 | Technical comments to the Webmaster

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