6th February 2013

How geography and innovation can help build food security


Our GeoVation challenge “How can Britain feed itself?” explored the role  geography and innovation can play in an agroecological approach to local food and farming. The emphasis is on building food security and sovereignty through connecting people to locally and sustainably produced food and farming. Geography is about the relationships between people, place, processes (natural and man-made) and planet and is therefore intimately connected to the land and how we use it. Our GeoVation Food Mapping Workshop explored how geography and geographic information can be used in local food and farming.

The links of geography to agro-ecological approaches to food and farming were again apparent at the excellent Oxford Real Farming Conference 2013 on 3-4 January. An ambitious programme covered numerous innovative developments in agroecological approaches to food and farming, from: policy to practice; collaboration and sharing business models for accessing land and production; and crowd funding for financing new initiatives.

Farmers, the world over are very innovative, but knowing whose doing what and where and what resources are available, is important in spreading good practice, knowledge and expertise rapidly. Technology, including social media, and geography is beginning to address that particular challenge. Our GeoVation challenge winners City Farmers, illustrate that in the conference  map they produced.

City Farmers Map of Delegates at Oxford Real Farming Conference

City Farmers map delegates at Oxford Real Farming Conference

Pete, from City-farmers describes this. “The background layer of the map for England was based on Defra’s Agricultural Land Classification, with the brighter the green showing the better quality of land. The black dots show population density by using Lower Super Output Area centroids, which means each dot represents around 1600 people. The circles are all numbered with each one representing an individual booking for the Real Farming Conference. The delegates were asked to explain their background and this is represented in the colouring by their categorisation as a type of delegate, green being food producers, blue are community activists, yellow work in education whilst the purples work in the food system, either traders or consultants.”

Elsewhere during the conference GeoVation neighbourhood challenge winner Sustaination hosted a workshop on the role digital, geo-media and other information technologies can play in agroecological approaches to food  and farming.

Watch this space for further developments from our GeoVation challenge winners!