Tag Archives: sustainable food

Could you be a GeoVation winner?

GeoVation funding can help to get your innovative ideas off the ground.   We’ve recently published some case studies in which GeoVation winners, explain what happened after they won funding, and how they developed their ideas.

For instance, Foodnation were awarded funding in our ‘How can Britain feed itself?’ GeoVation Challenge.  Foodnation’s mission is to have neighbourhood Foodnation hubs within bicycle-riding distance of most households in the UK. It provides a platform to connect customers and farmers in their local area easily and allow them to make transactions to buy and sell local organic food and find fruit and veg box-delivery schemes around the UK. The idea came from Louise Campbell, who after receiving funding was able to set up the company in March 2011. screenshot of foodnation website

After securing funding, the first steps in the project were to obtain the data and build a platform for transactions to take place. The pilot website was thoroughly tested and feedback fed back into the development of the site.


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.


Geography and Supply Chain Integrity

With the current focus on the integrity, resilience and sustainability of complex food supply chains – the journey food takes from farm to fork – this post looks at how three GeoVation winners and two GeoVation suppliers are challenging the status quo using geography and geographical information.

GeoVation “How can Britain feed itself?” challenge winner Foodnation : The People’s Digital Co-op has a mission to have neighbourhood Foodnation hubs within bicycle-riding distance of most UK households. It provides an on-line platform to connect customers and farmers in their local area, easily enabling them to buy and sell local organic food and find fruit and veg-box delivery schemes around the UK. This is supported by the Foodnation app launched in May 2012. Working with the Transition town network to pilot the scheme, Foodnation founder Louise Campbell sees the model for the Foodnation Co-operative as being fully scalable in transition towns across UK.


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


GeoVation supports food based innovation

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Last month, Ian and Chris from the GeoVation Team, were part of 2 day Wired for Food hackathon which challenged teams  to look for innovative ideas to change the way the world finds, grows and eats its food.

The event  sponsored by Forum for the Future, the Cabot Institut and Ordnance Survey,  was held over 24 hours on 21- 22 September at the University of Bristol, and challenged  designers, developers, coders and food experts to find solutions for a more sustainable food system.

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Photo from hackathon

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Data sets from Ordnance Survey and AMEE were on hand to help to develop prototypes. Ordnance Survey’s GeoVation  funded awards of £500 for ‘Best use of OS OpenData and ‘Best solution to a real problem’, to help nurture ideas into a fully-formed business plans .

The event was organised by Hugh Knowles and James Taplin of Forum for the Future to draw attention to a food system that they believe is currently unsustainable. ‘We wanted Wired for Food to build networks, spread the word about interesting challenges in the food system and help demonstrate what technology can do to help solve these with simple working prototypes. ‘ explained Knowles.


GeoVation winner Foodnation launch new website .

Foodnation, who are one of our 2011 GeoVation ‘How can Britain feed itself?’ winners, have just launched their *Brand New* location based website  and app  The website can help you to discover where to source local food from suppliers in your area.

  • It’s location based!
  • You can search via town, county or postcode
  • Discover farms, organic food from local farmers’ markets and farms, find fruit and vegbox delivery schemes and much more near you
  • Search what’s in season and where to buy it
  • Share your favourite listings with friends!

Image of the Foodnation website


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

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.