SWTOR was a send out a non-player character to harvest items. It actually is not that far off from the node idea I mentioned above.
Example: you had to meet and befriend that character before they were available to head out on side missions. That is not all that different from gathering wood to build a lumber yard, just a different description.
For what it is worth, I could see these nodes as people you hire too. (similar to SWTOR)
Could be a bit more interesting (though I wonder the success) if the people you hire to get the resource are actual players.
Just food for thought.