Seed to Seed: The Plausibility of Cradle-To-Cradle Local Food Systems Initiatives in Gettysburg, PA

Johanna C. Roche, Gettysburg College
Kaitlin E. Wingard, Gettysburg College

Environmental Studies Senior Thesis


The United States’ current industrial food system is based on a Cradle-to-Grave initiative. This system neglects potential environmental, economic, and social benefits that a closed-loop system, or Cradle-to-Cradle initiative could offer. For this study, we explored the plausibility of a Cradle-to-Cradle Local Food System (CCLFS) within Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. We chose to look at a local food system because, paired with closed loop initiatives, keeping food chains local promise sustainable benefits. Through qualitative interview and observation research involving three different case studies – a restaurant, a wastewater treatment plant, and a college dining facility – we sought to identify segments within this CCLFS. We also added an important communication component to our study by highlighting our case studies in three short films. Our results suggest that a CCLFS allows some businesses to have environmental, economic, and social benefits, but the system also brings hardships within each category. Systemic issues related to the U.S. food system prevent a CCLFS from being implemented. Yet our research indicates there are businesses utilizing CCLFS philosophies to emphasize local connections. Lessons learned from their practices can be shared via film to inspire others of the possibilities of CCLFS.