Mapping land for food

It’s a really supportive group, great to be part of something where there is so much expertise but also a genuine willingness to ask questions and learn from one another.

Alison Sheffield – Resilient Green Spaces / Social Farms & Gardens Wales.

One of the early stumbling blocks to getting food projects up and running is that land availability and suitability is not known. 

Many local and regional authorities don’t themselves have a full picture of their land assets, and in the majority of cases, this information isn’t up to date or publicly accessible. 

Mapping public land, and its potential for delivering any of the kinds of growing projects we’ve highlighted in our Typology, 

Lancaster University’s brilliant Rurban Revolution project has secured funding to take forward a mapping exercise which is for :

Collaboratively developing and trialling a mapping tool that helps identify where urban food projects could deliver health and wellbeing benefits more equitably’. 

This is a partnership project between Lancaster University, UAC, Friends of the Earth and Lancaster Food Futures (LESS CIC) with the technological mapping expertise brought by Mark at Geofutures.

This project extends and develops Geofutures’ Hope Spots mapping pilot in their 2020 collaboration with the Friends of the Earth experiments programme. 

UAC will be looking at how this mapping work could be replicated in other pathfinder cities such as Sheffield, Newcastle and Leicester.

What happens when food land mappers get together.

In the spring I met Janie Bickersteth from Incredible Edible Lambeth as we started talking about our shared interest in mapping and in the potential of Church of England land for regenerative food growing.

She told me about a fascinating mapping project she had been creating in Lambeth with ARUP’s pro bono expertise called ‘Lambeth Plots’.

This resulted in a map created by the local community and an App.

And I told her about the great Hope Spots mapping going on in Lancaster.

So we resolved to bring together these projects, along with Julian of Land Explorer / Shared Assets and colleagues in Wales, to share experiences, approaches and learn from each other.

There was a real excitement to connect with one another to think about how the mapping of land for food could be both bespoke to place and community, and compatible or interconnected.

It was spurred on by our recent discovery that Knight Frank has mapped all Church of England owned land, but that each diocese must find and pay £2,500 to access and use it (working with another consultant) to help develop its land assets.

This is unhelpful at a time where we need open collaboration to address nutritional and climate emergencies.

We’re meeting again in September to take the conversation further.

If you’d like to be involved in this, please contact us.

See our Hope Spots blog here.

FOOD LAND MAPPERS – meeting recordings – link here