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Take time to stop and smell the data...

The next step before going too much further would be to do some field work. There is no substitute for direct observation of what you are trying to model.

You should plan to spend a Thursday session at the Grinnell Farmer's Market first, followed by a Saturday morning at the Fairfield market. Ask questions of buyers and sellers, take notes. Keep in mind all that you have been reading and thinking in terms of modeling the market elements. Use the blog space to share how this direct experience shapes your thinking around the system model.

Also before going further on the modeling side of this project, you should do a good bit of on-line research on the local food economy projects here in Iowa. Get a good feel for each project and develop a kind of 'mental model' if you will of how each 'system' is set up.

Identify which projects you are researching in your blog space and capture your thoughts as to what you find. Do you find any kind of "meta model" that most projects seem to follow? Are there any 'stand out' projects you come across? Where are these operating and what makes them stand out? --------- you get the idea. You should be grounding yourself over the next several weeks on the "data" before leaping back into the modeling.

Look at as many examples as you can find from Iowa, but also see if you come across interesting examples from elsewhere (see my blog post on the Michigan Land Use Institute local food economy project).

Let's spend the next two weeks in "data space" - this should help shape our modelling.