The Local Food Economy Game is an applied research and social action project of Sohodojo. Our goal is to increase the production and consumption of wholesome foods grown and sold locally. We are developing a web-based exploratory learning environment where folks can have fun while deepening their appreciation of the social and economic impacts of "Buy Fresh, Buy Local."

An article comparing five agent-based simulation platforms

Here is an article entitled "Agent-based Simulation Platforms: Review and Development Recommendations," written by Steven F. Railsback, Steven L. Lytinen, and Stephen K. Jackson. This article compares five agent-based simulation platforms: NetLogo, MASON, Repast, Objective-C Swarm, and Java Swarm. The five platforms were reviewed by implementing example models in each. Some important findings from this study include:

  • "Swarm was designed as a general language and toolbox for ABMs, intended for

Two Popular Agent-Based Simulation Platforms: RePast and Ascape

RePast and Ascape appear to be the two most popular platforms for agent based modeling. Repast (Recursive Porous Agent Simulation Toolkit) was developed at the University of Chicago. It is intended primarily for use in the social sciences, and seeks to "support the development of extremely flexible models of living social agents." Models can be written in RePast using several programming languages, including Java, C#, and Python. As I know none of these languages, I was limited in my ability to experiment with RePast. Despite these limitations, however, I formed the opinion that RePast would be a suitable platform for our simulation game. It allows for the depth of interactions and behaviors, as well as the diversity of characterizations that are a necessity for our project.

My next couple days...

Having analyzed the Fairfield farmers' market, read through the three articles given to me by Jim and Timlynn, and tied up some loose ends with some postings on the website, I expect the remainder of today and tomorrow to be centered around two goals:

  • Researching and blogging about agent-based simulation platforms
  • --and--

  • Reading "Fields that Dream," "Fields of Plenty," and, as time allows, "The World is Flat." I also hope to continue with "The Story of B" at some point, but that may have to wait.

What crops grow best in Grinnell?

I have been researching online about what crops grow best in the Grinnell and Fairfield areas (in regards to Timlynn's question relating to the Iowa Produce Market Potential Calculator). Though my online research has yielded no results, Jon Andelson sent me some good information in response to an e-mail:

"Among commodity crops, it's pretty clear than corn and soybeans grow best here (compared to wheat, for example, or rice). Corn can be for humans (sweet corn, popcorn), though that's a small part of what is grow here. Soybenas can, too (tofu, soy yogurt, etc.), though, again, that's a small part of what's grown here.

Artificial Microeconomy Simulation Platform

There is an interesting program located here:

The program is simplistic, using "food" and "gold" as the only two commodities. Actors are very limited in their actions, and allotment of each good is random. However, it is worth checking out, as it models what we are trying to do--only in a more simplistic manner.

A detailed description of the model is presented in a paper by Ken Steiglitz, Michael Honig, and Leonard Cohen, located at:

"Applying Mixed Reality to Entertainment" and Sohodojo

"Applying Mixed Reality to Entertainment," an article written by Christopher Stapleton, Charles Hughes, Michael Moshell, Paulius Micikevicius, and Marty Altman, discusses how the combination of virtual objects with reality will allow users to enjoy a "rich fantasy experience."

The successful adoption of new technologies for entertainment applications depends on finding creative models that spark the imagination and generate demand. Developers must then apply these creative conventions to diverse business models, including theme parks, arcades, museums, and infotainment.

"Conceptualizing US Food Systems with Simplifying Models" and the LFEG Project

This paper, entitled "Conceptualizing US Food Systems with Simplifying Models," by Axel Aubrun Ph.D, Andrew Brown Ph.D, and Joseph Grady Ph.D, focuses on the creation of "simplifying models" to allow Americans understand the "big picture" of food systems. Three points, in particular, stick out to me in terms of their relevance to our LFEG project:

[The simplifying model] provides a concrete image of the system as a whole, and helps people move beyond their default focus on the individual experience of food. [p. 4]

A goal of our project is to help both consumers and producers understand that their buying and selling decisions have an extended impact on and entire food system network. When a customer makes a decision to buy food from Wal-mart, his decision effects more parties than simply himself and his family--who eat the food, and Wal-mart, who profits from his decision. Also affected are local producers of food, who do not receive his money, other customers who want to buy local food, but may find the supply of such foods going down when demand is low, etc. Our models will show the interconnectivity of all players in a food network, allowing these people to see how their decisions effect others, moving away from individual experience of foods to a broader view.


Similarities and Differences Between the Grinnell and Fairfield Farmers' Markets

A statistical analysis of the data I collected from the Grinnell and Fairfield Farmers' Markets. See my more detailed write-ups of the two markets ("A profile of the Grinnell Farmers' Market" and "A profile of the Fairfield Farmers' Market) in earlier blogs for more information.

The Vendors

Total number of stations:

  • Grinnell: 27
  • Fairfield: 23

Total number of vendors:

  • Grinnell: 34
  • Fairfield: 37

Gender of Vendors:

  • Grinnell: 41% male, 59% female

A Profile of the Fairfield Farmers' Market

The Fairfield Farmers' Market is held every Wednesday from 3:30 PM to 7:00 PM, and every Saturday, from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM. The market season starts on the first Saturday of May and end on the last Saturday of October. Like the Grinnell market, most vendors at the Fairfield market sell produce and baked goods, with a few selling homemade crafts, flowers, jams, etc. Unlike the Grinnell market, foods to eat on site (Crepes, egg rolls, wraps) are an important part of Fairfield's market. This is part of a crucial difference between the two markets: the Fairfield market is a social place. Whereas at the Grinnell market, buyers immediately leave after finding what they want, shoppers at the Fairfield market tend to stick around. Many shoppers buy lunch at the market, and sit down to eat it while chatting with fellow buyers. Many children play on the playground next to the market while the parents shop and socialize. Shopping at the Fairfield farmers' market can be seen as much more of an entire "experience" than shopping at Grinnell's market.

My week

My work this week will be focused on four topics:

  • Writing up a profile of the Fairfield Farmers' Market, based on my observations from Saturday, July 22. This will be up on this site today.
  • Researching further into modeling platforms, especially from Leigh Tetsfatsion's website, in preparation for our visit to Ames.
  • Reading Jenny Kurzweil's "Fields that Dream," Michael Ableman's "Fields of Plenty," and three articles on virtual modeling given to me by Sohodojo Jim and Timlynn.
  • Reading content from Sohodojo's website, and relating this content to our Local Food Economy Game project.


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