The Aretian Foundation
Network of Agricultural Clusters
Jeremy Burke (MDE ’18)
Ramon Gras (MDE ’18)
Fall 2016 – Spring 2017
Collaborative Design Engineering Studio
The proposal of the Aretian Agricultural Foundation is to understand to what extent farming operations can be expanded within the state of Massachusetts to promote food self sufficiency and resilience in the light of economic and environmental changes. In addition we proposed a series of networked food processing facilities which serve as infrastructure to support the production and distribution of food from small and mid-sized farms throughout the Northeast. The support network is necessary to ensure food security within the region and to create more robust alternative to larger scale corporate farms which currently dominate the market.
In order to define the proper regions in which to place a food processing facility, the first part of the studio developed a methodology to classify and group land use patterns. These certified zones were defined as Mezzo Regions since the classification was based on farming zones with a common cultural and gastronomic identity, focused on the production of high quality specialty crops such as vegetables, fruits, and meat production. In addition, farming tends to occur within specific geographic conditions and watersheds, which do not always fall within state boundaries.
Through spatial analysis of GIS land use maps, transportation infrastructure, and business location data, the studio was able to establish a set of metrics by which we could clearly define areas of interest. Each Mezzo Region will be named based on the current and historical identity of the place, and will establish a shared identity that each farmer can use to bolster their market identity. The regions will help to build stronger connections between the urban and the rural communities and help to shift food culture to from a generic concept of produce to region specific products known for their quality and good practices. The project is inspired on the successful experience of the Wine Cathedrals in Catalonia, Spain.
The Aretian Agricultural Foundation will offer a unique opportunity for mid-size farmers to join efforts in building a strong community, characterized by shared values and homogenous gastronomic quality standards, able to raise food production output and product quality, offer opportunities for product sophistication, increase market reach by integrating those products in a streamlined supply chain, and to strengthen the regional brand recognition and prestige among potential customers.