Everyday Growing Cultures was a six-month pilot study funded by the EPSRC’s Communities and Cultures Network+ that, between mid February and mid August 2013, focused on the potentially transformative value of connecting two currently disparate communities: allotment growers and the open data community. Based on comparative research in Manchester and Sheffield, this ambitious project explored the potential effects of digital engagement and open data for allotment holders, those on waiting lists, as well as those interested in cultivating currently unused plots of council-owned land, in order to build stronger, more active communities, benefit local economies and improve environmental sustainability and food security.
In partnership with Open Data Manchester, The Kindling Trust and Grow Sheffield, we ran a number of events with growing communities in Manchester and Sheffield to identify potential food growing spaces. We have engaged local councils about taking some of our ideas forward and how this might happen. We requested allotment data through the Freedom of Information Act and examined how council websites provide information to potential allotment plot holders. As part of our impact and dissemination strategy, our project film, Everyday Growing Futures, highlights these important issues in an accessible way. Although the project officially ended in August 2013, we continue to engage with various project participants, partners and new connections made through the research. For example, through formal and informal engagements with land access advocates 596 Acres in New York.
For practical advice to get growing in your own community, please have a look at our toolkit. Please let us know how we can improve it and if you decide to use it, let us know. We’d love to hear about it!
To get in touch, please email Farida Vis.