Mapping food production in Birmingham: Part II

An outcome of the first New Optimists Forum event last November was the notion of mapping local food production in Birmingham.

Hence on Friday I joined a meeting of four people, Dr Farida Vis (@flygirltwo), Andy Mabbett (@pigsonthewing), Andrew Mackenzie (@DJSoup) and Brian Prangle (community organiser for OpenStreetMap in Birmingham, aka Mappa Mercia), who together know more than a tad about (a) mapping, (b) data and (c) allotments and growing local food.

Here’s what I learned:

  • Birmingham’s allotments, thanks to Brian, are now literally on the Map.
  • On the Map, there are Council allotments, private or charity allotments (e.g. at Bournville) community orchards and a few other other food sources.
  • How to edit Open Street Maps myself. Evidence that even a nork like yours truly can do it, note this apple tree off Nursery Road in Harborne is now marked there.
  • It’d be really useful to have data on the Map about who owns what sites, in particular un-used brownfield sites.
    (This data is held by the Land Registry, but isn’t opendata nor in the public domain, even when it’s publicly owned land.)
  • Solihull recently opened two new allotment sites, with great services — proof it can be done!
  • It’d take a day of a coder’s time to add a pop-up window so info about any item could be added by users.
Discussion also ranged around getting productive use from brownfield sites (for example, mobile allotments — containers plus a water supply, the big issue there is ownership, and knowing who owns where); green roofing, growing edible plants on disused railways, the canal system . . .
Might it be possible, too, to plant around Curzon Street and the old LDV site in Washwood Heath; the former will be the new station for HS2 (if it happens), the latter an engineering and maintenance depot for the trains, so both places will be lying with not-much happening in the short-term.

3 Responses to “Mapping food production in Birmingham: Part II”

  1. A bit more about mapping land ownership.

    Land Registry data is not in the public domain or available under an open licence like the open government data licence data.gov.uk http://data.gov.uk/terms-and-conditions

    The Land Registry is a Trading Fund, like Ordnance Survey or Companies House.

    The licence for public sector information held by trading funds could change, depending on the outcome of the Public Data Corporation consultation. The Cabinet Office Autumn statement extended open data to healthcare, weather and transport data.http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/news/open-data-measures-autumn-statement

    Of course, people could add ownership data about land to a public database and OpenStreetMap if they know independently of the Land Registry. The owners could volunteer the information. In the case of publicly owned land ownership data could be publicly available under the open government data licence. Why not?

  2. Annie says:

    Sounds like a very fruitful meeting.

    I’m getting like minded people together on Tues 17 Jan in The Drop Forge JQ to submit a Big Lottery Fund application for building a Sustainable Community in JQ, Ladywood and Soho. £500k – £1million over 5 years. Needs to be led by social enterprise, in area with min 10k population, with partners from public sector, voluntary sector and independent sector. Expression of interest due in by 31 Jan 2012 of £10k feasibility study. Come along to share ideas.

    Also, I put my name down in August 2011 for an allotment at Matthew Boulton allotments just off Soho Road in Handsworth and thought I’d have to wait 5 years or so. Got a call last week and have been allocated one from 14 February 2012! I’m delighted! Annie

  3. Annie says:

    Tuesday 17 Jan 6pm The Drop Forge just off Vyse Street opp the JQ Station.

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