Archive for the ‘river cottage’ Tag

App app and away

The summer before last I commissioned the fresh, green loveliness we know as Landshare (www.landshare.net) from Keo Films and Mint Digital. It has now sprouted a verdant little app, currently featured on the App Store.

The Landshare website and campaign has sparked a nationwide revolution over the last year. It connects would-be growers of fruit and veg with people with land to share – and they share the produce.

There are currently 2 growers to every 1 plot offered and the new app is designed to enable the public to take action.

  • Councils will be held to legal task to provide allotments according to their statuary obligations
  • tens of thousands of acres of wasted, unproductive land around the UK is to be identified

The Landspotting function was an idea I originally came up with inspired by a long-empty plot at the end of my road, a wasted gap between the last house and a tyre workshop on the corner.

The app functionality includes:

  • using the camera with geolocating technology
  • giving users live access to expert growers for instant advice
  • extending accessibility and full integration of tools with social networks

The Landshare App is free

The app also gives users direct, on-the-move access to the core Landshare tools – extending its ability to match growers to land, through a postcode driven map and listing database, and more. Already, Landshare has seen more than 3,000 acres of land offered and matches in every region of the UK.

It has been cited by the House of Lords, New Local Government Network, the international Wikinomics team and most recently – the Food Ethics Council – as changing the landscape in food accessibility and security.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall spearheads Landshare and says of the new App: “Landshare has always been, literally, a ground-breaking initiative but now it’s set to really push the agenda. We know there are 100,000 people on council waiting lists in England alone, with up to 40 year waits, plus a significant amount of waiting lists that are actually closed! This app will ensure that councils can no longer shut the door to their legal duty to provide.

Landshare has been at the forefront of the debate on land use and accessibility – it is no longer acceptable to say that the land is not available because most of us pass derelict land in our travels every day. By bringing attention to the scale of space that is already on our doorsteps with “LandSpot”, we hope to help enable this potential to be realised and for much more land to be made fertile.”

The Landshare app launched on Friday (6th August 2010) and can be downloaded free at www.landshare.net/iphoneapp

Users without iPhones can also make use of the new tools at www.landshare.net

Some Landshare facts & figures:

  • Landshare is a movement of more than 50,000 people – and it’s growing daily.
  • The idea came out of Channel 4’s River Cottage, when Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall helped some Bristol families grow food on disused council land.
  • More than 100,000 people are on waiting lists for local authority allotments in England.
  • An estimated 16% of council waiting lists in England are closed.
  • Despite having a legal duty to provide allotments, some 12% of councils do not know what the status of their waiting lists is.
  • The Local Government Association reckon that 200,000 allotments have disappeared in the last 30 years
  • 6 million people in Britain are estimated to be interested in an allotment.
  • There is 60,000 acres of unused rooftop space in London alone.
  • There is an estimated 80,000 acres of official derelict land in England.
  • In Scotland, more than 44% of derelict land is in urban areas.
  • Landshare addresses concern among policy makers about future food security and greenhouse gases from industrial farming and food miles.
  • Landshare was recently cited in “Food Justice: The report of the Food and Fairness Inquiry” published July 2010
  • It’s one of the best things I’ve commissioned at C4.

And the last word to a happy customer on the App Store: “this app literally changed my life”.

Journalism ain’t what it used to be

Matt of the Media Guardian

Tony Wells

A colleague sent me over a link to the last Media Guardian podcast in which I made an unwitting appearance. Maggie Brown saw a speaking gig I did last week and said it made her realise that “there are some people there [at Channel 4] with real knowledge driving the 4iP fund which I hadn’t expected” – I was talking about my Landshare project which goes live tonight as soon as the DNS switches over from the old Registration site .

So that much was spot on ;-)

What The Guardian unfortunately failed to do with their careful fact checking and old school journalistic attention to detail was:

  • get my name right – I was Tony Gee (an amalgamation with the next speaker who was Tony Ageh of the BBC)
  • ascribe the project to the right source – not 4iP which is not behind Landshare but Channel 4 Cross-platform (since it is related to a primetime TV show, River Cottage)
  • grasp the purpose of the site – not getting allotments but sharing land (the clue’s in the name)
  • link it to the right partners – Royal Horticultural Society was singled out from a wide coalition including the National Trust, Garden Organic, Capital Growth et al, with no sense that Channel 4/Keo Films was the prime-mover

The thing that stands out for me about event where Maggie saw me speak (at the Voice of the Listener and Viewer, chaired by Roger Bolton) was a rather odd question I got at the end from a lady in the audience:

- Why did you use all that jargon?

- Sorry, hadn’t meant to, was really trying to avoid it, what did I say?

- Well what did you mean by “pipes”?

- Those things water flows through

- Well what about “ether”?

- Sort of airy

Still, it was lovely to appear in the Media Talk podcast, not least in that it squeezed out a begrudging recognition that we do some good stuff at Channel 4 in the networked media world. Now I love The Guardian as much as the next white, male, Oxbridge-educated, middle class person – my own flesh&blood works there on the Sports desk, the luverly Jemima Kiss writes great stuff in it, a nice gardening man in G2 wrote a double-page spread about Landshare and Veg Doctors in it today – but it does bug me that the highly respected organ spends a lot of time having a go at C4 without declaring its vested interest (including vested interests in terms of the Guardian/Scott Trust’s media ownership such as radio stations etc.) in the Channel’s future not being secured by the Powers That Be as we travel over the crossroads of digital switch-over – how it would love to be the counter-balance to the BBC in the public service media landscape. But when we ask ourselves whether Skins viewers read The Guardian over breakfast every morning? whether the Sex Education Show viewers turn to The Guardian for a chance to talk openly about sex education issues? whether The Guardian can do a Jamie’s Scool Dinners? we understand why Channel 4 has its place in the landscape and why people of all sorts dig it.

Day 1 – US / UK remix

A formula for the future:

US Optimism and Can-Do

+

British Pluck and Make-Do

Poster from WW2

Poster from WW2

= a +ve, progressive way forward

A good place to start (this side of the water): www.landshare.net

Thought for Food

Landshare map

Landshare map

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall of River Cottage

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall of River Cottage

eBay, Couchsurfing, Freecycle, Park At My House – one of the greatest strengths of the Web is connecting and aggregating supply & demand. Landshare plugs into exactly that power – it links people who want to grow their own fruit & veg (but can’t get an allotment) with people who have bits of land they can grow it on. This could be an arthritic granny who can no longer do her garden, a property developer with some wasteland, a hospital with overgrown former gardens, a church with glebe land, anywhere where unproductive land can be safely used to grow your own and the resultant produce shared between growers and land-owner.

The project started last summer when the series producer of River Cottage came in to Horseferry Road with members of the Keo Films team who produce the show. The idea was to develop a story featured in the TV series by exploring how the Web could facilitate the kind of land sharing Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall had highlighted on screen. What immediately appealed was the simplicity and clarity of the proposition, and the fact that it revolved around this core strength of the Web. It also felt very much of the moment – even more so now, 6 months on.

We started by building a first phase site at www.landshare.net to test the level of interest. Using the Autumn series of River Cottage as a springboard, we had 15,000 registrations within 10 days. The mix was healthy in terms of the balance between would-be Growers and Land-owners. We also had people register as Landspotters – participants who might know of potentially usable land in their locality – and Facilitators – participants who could help vulnerable people, those in need of help on the computer front and anyone requiring extra support to take part. Like-minded groups and organisations were also able to register interest.

The plan is for the next few months to see the design and build of the service, as well as the follow-up work on partnerships with all manner of enthusiasts small and large, local and nation-wide. The focus is on amplifying the inspiring work of existing land share-type initiatives and champions in the field, as well as helping the sharing of best practice and providing a UK overview – as opposed to stomping in with great big broadcaster wellies.

Issues of legal compliance have been considered and worked through from the off. Since the process involves transactions and meetings in real life a good deal of thought has gone into how to make those work effectively and safely. Projects like School of Everything (in which Channel 4 has invested via its Education department and 4iP initiative), which likewise involves real-life encounters, have provided useful precedents and approaches to such issues.

It’s always a good sign when a project has an organic feel of wholeness and rightness and Landshare has that vibe for me. The new year saw it flagged up as a trend-setter for 2009 in The Guardian and rippling over the pond to be picked up by Huffington. It has caught the eye of the Scottish Parliament. All these are promising indications that Landshare is the right idea in the right place at the right time. So here’s to a fruitful 2009…

Landshare

Landshare with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Landshare with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

In the wake of Sexperience and Embarrassing Teenage Bodies, I’m moving on to get some more light, space and fresh air…  next up for me is Landshare, a project to link up people who want to grow their own food (and can’t get an allotment) with people who have land where food could be grown.

The project is in its initial phase – gauging and registering the interest of growers, land-owners, land-spotters and all the people & groups who will be needed to make it work well and sustainably. 6,000 people registered in the week after launch. I’m doing the project with the River Cottage folk (Keo Films and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall) and, if you’re interested in any of the roles mentioned, you can register at the nascent Landshare site at www.landshare.net.

Here’s a vid of Hugh getting going, securing land from the Church of England. Old grannies with arthritis who can’t do their garden any more through to property developers with wasteland temporarily on their hands are equally in the frame for sharing land and the produce that comes from it.

And here is Hugh explaining the basic idea.

Update 11.xi.08 :

An interesting post about Landshare by the formidable John Thackera on Doors of Perception – you gotta love the graph at the bottom.

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