Tag Archives: local food mapping

Open data, big data, big changes

Today we have a great guest blog from GeoVation winner, Ed Dowding who tells us what Sustaination is aiming to achieve and how they will be doing this using gathering and using open data:

Imagine if there were a shop in which you knew that everything had been sustainably and fairly sourced.

If you picked up an apple, it would be from the nearest, most viable orchard; if you choose burgers, they would be locally produced from locally grazed cattle; and if it was February the tomatoes would be preserved ones – you’ll savour the anticipation of fresh ones when they’re back in season. In the meantime there’s winter stews to enjoy.

Wouldn’t it be great to shop there? I’d love to know that the money I spend isn’t creating hardship for a farmer – it’s generating livelihoods; it isn’t polluting the planet – it’s actually purifying water; it isn’t hindering future generations – it’s actively enriching the soil; and, in short, that we’re doing the very best we know that we can do.

That’s the vision we’re working towards, and that’s the vision GeoVation is helping us achieve.

So how do we do it?

We’re working on two complementary projects:

1) Foodtrade —  a business-to-business food trade network. It’s  really simple: if you’re a food business (of any size or type, from farm-to-fork) you tell us where you are and what you buy or sell. We’ll try match-make you with others near you. We also do a lot of other clever stuff, and we’ll be launching that soon.

2) I Want Better Food — a new type of campaign site where we help consumers and businesses work together to create a better food system.Image of the Website I want better food

The timing really couldn’t be better (unfortunately). The recent horse meat scandal has brought to mind, again, that we need to take more responsibility for our food.


Putting our innovation winners on the map

In this post you can find out how many GeoVation Challenges we’ve run, how much innovation funding has been awarded, and where our GeoVation winners are on the map!

The GeoVation initiative was started by Ordnance Survey at the end of 2009 to encourage open innovation in addressing communities’ needs where geography is a key enabler.  Since then we’ve given innovation funding to 20 new ventures so they can develop their ideas.

To date we’ve run 5 GeoVation Challenges. We believe that for innovation to succeed it needs to have its foundations in a real problem worth solving and so, after our first ‘general’ GeoVation Challenge , we’ve themed our GeoVation Challenges. We’ve posed questions intended to generate social and environmental value from the ideas submitted, such as ‘How can Britain feed itself?’, ‘How can we transform our neighbourhoods?’ and ‘How can we improve transport in Britain?’ We’ve also run more location specific challenges, such as asking how we can connect communities and visitors along the new Wales Coast Path.

Over the course of these Challenges 1448 people have registered, 509 ideas have been submitted and 57 teams have attended 4 GeoVation Camps. Participants invited to the weekend GeoVation Camp benefit from being taken through a process that prepares them to be “Match fit to Pitch”  – able to describe their idea and the problem they are solving in a 2 minute ‘pecha kucha ‘style presentation


Mapping the Future of Food and Farming

orfcWe are delighted to be hosting the Mapping the Future workshop at the Oxford Real Farming Conference on Friday. We’ll explore the challenges mapping can be used to address, with innovative examples and contributions from local food and farming pioneers including contributions from City Farmers, Food Nation, Sustaination, GeoFutures and Ordnance Survey.

We worked with the Campaign for Real Farming and Agrarian Renaissance when we launched Geovation’s “How can Britain Feed Itself?” challenge in June 2010. As a result we were delighted to be able to seed fund two innovative ventures, Food Nation and City Farmers that are using geography to help address sustainable, local food and farming. You can read about their ventures here on the blog.

Building on interest in the role geography can play, we held a Local Food and Farming Mapping Workshop, together with Tasting the Future at Ordnance Survey in July and produced this report from the day.

Mapping local food at Tasting the Future’s assembly

‘Seeds of Change’ was the name of the Tasting the Future’s third assembly which as held on 28 November 2011. Tasting the future is a community of practitioners working towards a sustainable food future. The purpose of the assembly was to connect, hear inspiring stories and learn.

Conversations tackled a diverse range of issues facing us in the transition to a sustainable food future. These included: supply chains, climate friendly beef, urban agriculture, business models, sharing, supermarkets, GMOs, biodiversity, hubs & possibilities, sustainable food for everyone, food waste, food mapping, working together for systems change, getting people to act, connection and sustainability as a starting point for innovation.

Chris from GeoVation was one of the 11 speakers during the afternoon session. Chris spoke about GeoVation’s work on Mapping Local Food and how geography can support sustainable food enterprises. Also speaking was Pete Boyce of GeoVation Challenge winner City Farmers who told the assembly about their experiences of local growing and the opportunities for influencing and changing policy.

Niamh Carey from Tasting the Future shared the story behind the idea, the values behind the work and what the team would like to see grow. The final session allowed feedback from everyone in the room on how to take this forward.

To find out more about the assembly and Tasting the Future visit their website

You can also see the report of the Local Food Mapping Workshop we held in July

Chris at Seeds of Change

It’s National Organic Month

Did you know that September is the Organic Industry’s month to celebrate and promote all things organic. The Soil Association are promoting this initiative with details all the different ways you can get involved, from visiting festivals to learning new skills.

I am sure this close is close to many GeoVators hearts, following on from the successful challenge of How can Britain feed itself? and subsequent Local food mapping workshop.

One of the main problems from the workshop was how to understand and promote local food sources and how mapping can help. I have found an OS OpenSpace app that demonstrates exactly how mapping can help to promote locally sourced food. This application features food sources around Sussex and is currently in the testing status, but allows you to add your own local food sources for the area.


And if you are in London looking to grow some of your own organic fair, then take a look at https://www.allotmentsite.co.uk, which shows locations of allotments in and around London.

How mapping can help local food groups

In July GeoVation, working with Tasting the Future, held a Local Food Mapping Workshop at Ordnance Survey.  The workshop was attended by representatives from various sustainable food and farming groups, local authorities and universities. GeoVation Challenge winners, City Farmers and Foodnation also took part.

A report on the workshop has now been compiled which captures the views of the participants of the main problems they are trying to solve such as:

  • Understanding and promoting local food;
  • Addressing the demand for land and access;
  • Enabling collaboration;
  • Fragmented distribution of local food.

And suggests solutions as to how mapping could help address these.

It includes summaries on the presentations made by food mapping innovators and links to further information on the demonstrations of OS OpenSpace®, OS OpenDataTM and other data sources. There are also some useful comments on how the workshop could be scaled out to groups.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the workshop. We had some great feedback from you.

‘A very good group of people. An enjoyable and useful day.’

‘The workshop was a stroke of genius!’

If you would like to find out more about what happened at the workshop click the picture below to open the report.

Local Food Mapping Report

GeoVation holds Local Food Mapping Workshop

Food mapping workshopDuring the ‘How can Britain feed itself?’ GeoVation Challenge some of the sustainable food and farming groups we worked with expressed the need for local food mapping. On 20 July GeoVation, in partnership with the Tasting the Future network supported by WWF, ran a workshop to demonstrate how easy-to-use mapping tools can help reconnect people to local food and farming.

The workshop was attended by representatives from the Soil Association, Wastewatch, Sustain, Landshare, local authorities, transition towns and universities working on food mapping. Also participating were our GeoVation Challenge winners, City Farmers and Foodnation.

To kick off the workshop Colin Tudge of the Campaign for Real Farming described the broad context of sustainable food and the role mapping can play in this. Colin, who is a biologist with a lifetime interest in food and agriculture, has written many books on sustainable agriculture.  The groups discussed the problems they were trying to solve, such as access to land, collaboration, retail distribution and how they thought that availability of mapping and other data could help them.

Chris demonstrating mapping data There were some great presentations from organisations already using Ordnance Survey mapping, such as Campaign to Protect Rural England who are mapping local food webs and Somerset Community Food with ‘Foodmapper’ which aims to match people who need access to land to grow food with landowners willing to sell or lease land. This was followed by some demonstrations of Ordnance Survey mapping and data and information on licensing. We ended the day by discussing how the workshop could be scaled out to be used by local food groups and innovators.