17th February 2011

GeoVation finalists invited to Westminster Group

Viv Alexander

On Tuesday, Peter Boyce and Helen Steer of City Farmers and Louise Campbell and Michael Ferguson of Food Nation, our finalists from our first GeoVation Challenge attended the All Party Parliamentary Group on Agroecology launch meeting, held in the Grand Committee Room in Westminster Hall.  The theme of the meeting was ‘Farming in the Age of Ecology’ with speakers Dame Ellen MacArthur and Colin Tudge.

Famous for sailing, single handedly around the globe, Dame Ellen MacArthur has also founded the All Party Parliamentary Group on AgroecologyEllen MacArthur Foundation, which aims to equip young people for work in a world of increasingly limited resources.

GeoVation formed strong links with Colin Tudge during the ‘How can Britain feed itself?’ Challenge.  Colin is biologist and writer with a lifetime interest in food and agriculture. He has written many books on sustainable agriculture and, with his wife Ruth, launched the Oxford Real Farming Conference.  Colin and Ruth worked with GeoVation to highlight the problems that need to be addressed if Britain is to feed itself sustainably;  this formed the foundation of the November GeoVation Camp. Colin’s article “Eight steps back to the land” was inspiration for City Farmers’ venture, pitched at the Camp.

Our finalists said that it was an honour to be invited;  it was like a great big agroecological think tank with some great points raised. Dame Ellen MacArthur was very inspirational and her new project will be a real asset to sustainability campaigns. Louise commented ‘I like the ideas Dame Ellen MacArthur spoke about, she stated we need to hold on to our “child like brain” to inspire change, and not get bogged down with negativity and the challenges of every day life.’

Colin Tudge spoke about the problems facing us as we try to ‘feed the world’ and how the modern farming industry needs to change in order to achieve that.  Louise introduced herself as a finalist of Ordnance Survey’s GeoVation Challenge and asked Colin “If we are going to increase the number of people farming the land from the currently under 1% of population to 20%, what was his vision for executing this, how would he see it working land wise?”

Commenting on the meeting, Peter said ‘hearing that Dame Ellen MacArthur is tackling the problems within world production processes and our diminishing resources with the same vigour and commitment she tackled sailing around the world has provided inspiration and hope that through community efforts and we can solve these problems.’

Both City Farmers and Food Nation found the event a useful opportunity to network, make connections and to develop their ventures. GeoVation’s judging panel is meeting at the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) today to consider City Farmers and Food Nation’s venture plans and what seed funding might be offered to kick start their ventures.  More on that soon!