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.
Top 10 things to see or do along the Wales Coast Path
As many of you know Coastal Wales was voted number 1 on Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel, top 10 regions for 2012.
The Lonely Planet book states: “What a wonderful thing: to walk the entire length of a country’s coastline, to trace its every nook, cranny, cliff-face, indent and estuary. How better to truly appreciate the shape – and soul – of a nation? Well, in 2012 Wales will become the only country in the world where you can do just that.
With the Wales Coast Path due to open on 5 May and our GeoVation Challenge calling for ideas to connect communities and visitors along the new path, this got me thinking: Is there a top 10 of things to see or do along the Wales Coast Path?
Here are some suggestions:
- See dolphins in Newquay – Cardigan Bay
- Surf at Llangenith – Gower
- Play the Prisoner at Portmerion
- Eat cockles in Penclawdd
- Catch a show at the Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay
- See the starlings flock at dusk on Aberystwyth prom
- Visit the Great Orme in Llandudno
- Eat honey ice cream in Aberaeron
- Walk on Whistling Sands Aberdaron
- Bird spotting at Newport Wetlands
Or what about these?
- Seal spotting off the Llyn Penninsula
- Enjoying the tranquility and uniqueness of Porth Iago
- Take in the sunset over Worms Head
- Explore the highest sand dunes in Northern Europe in Merthyr Mawr
- Walk the barrage, then dine in Cardiff Bay
- Visit a Castle at Criccieth
I’m sure you have your own top ideas to make the most of Wales Coast Path, but don’t keep them to yourself. If you can think of how people who live and work along, or visit the Wales Coast Path can use digital technology to benefit from this ‘world first’ for Wales, then enter the GeoVation Challenge – you could win a share of £125,000 in funding to make your idea happen!
Become a Nowherian
I have recently become a citizen of Nowhereisland. It was really easy, no tests, no restrictions – I visited the website, filled in a quick online form and quickly joined the growing number of citizens. A few days later my certificate arrived in the post which says I am an official Nowhereisland citizen. Nowhereisland currently has 3948 citizens – more than the Vatican City or the Falkland Islands and closing fast on St Helena.
So where is Nowhereisland and what’s it all about?
Nowhereisland is a public art project conceived by artist Alex Hartley. It is one of 12 arts projects across the UK, funded by the Arts Council of England, which will form part of the Cultural Olympiad in summer 2012. Next summer, Nowhereisland will journey from Weymouth to Bristol over six weeks stopping at 7 ports and harbours en route.
In 2004, Alex discovered an island which had been revealed by the melting ice of a retreating glacier in the High Arctic region of Svalbard. He was the first human to stand on the island which was subsequently named Nyskjaeret and is now officially recognised and included on all maps and charts .
In September 2011, Alex returned to the Arctic to retrieve the island territory. With the permission of the Governor of Svalbard, a quantity of island territory was removed and sailed into international waters north of Svalbard. Once in international waters, Alex declared Nowhereisland a new nation on 20th September 2011, before the island material was shipped back to the UK to be formed into the floating island sculpture.
Nowhereisland is a place that seeks to redefine what a nation can be and will ask questions and inspire activities around geography, migration, nationhood, citizenship, land grab and climate change. Which fits really well with GeoVation – a place where communities, innovative thinkers, geographic data, skills and expertise can get together for the benefit of communities and their needs.
And … for Mission:Explorers – when you sign up you receive a code to unlock bonus points for a Nowhereisland badge.
It’s Geography Awareness Week… so let’s reclaim travel!
We are really excited and pleased to be supporting National Geographic Education this Geography Awareness Week with our GeoVation, Mission:Explore. We’ve worked closely with them to create a series of missions that challenge children to go on adventures in their communities, explore their backyards and take action on issues that they care about. Young explorers can unlock points and collect online badges for the efforts. All the details of how you can take can be found on their website at www.geographyawarenessweek.org and the resources will be useful well beyond this week.As part of this work I’ve been getting email alerts when newspapers, blogs and other media channels mention Geography Awareness Week. It’s exciting to see so many reports that focus on our creative and experiential approach to exploring local communities, but far too many have included and resorted back to the pub quiz style ‘name the capital’ quizzes that mask the opportunities of geography.I personally find it infuriating that travel has become divorced from geography in the minds of so many people. Travel is usually a gulf away from geography section in book shops (if there is one). This is despite travel being arguably the biggest possible opportunity for the geography community to engage the wider public with the subject in an entertaining and enjoyable way. Exploration and travel are one of the physical manifestations of geographical enquiry and it’s time we reclaimed them. I believe making the explicit link between travel and geography will help to bring new life to geography, demonstrate that it is not just about factual knowledge building and reshape the way the public understands the subject.The question is, how?Daniel Raven-Ellison, Mission:Explore