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  • An Edible Design Map

    Environment, Environmental Design


    This is a map of an 'edible' town in the North of England.

    It was created by architects Bohn and Viljoen as part of an initiative called Dott07, a year of design projects in the North East of England devoted to examining and visioning a sustainable region and supported by the Design Council and One NorthEast.

    The map proposes a landscape plan for Middlesbrough that integrates food and water systems in to the future strategic planning of the town - and formed part of an urban agriculture project that I led there.

    This month's Blueprint design magazine calls the idea of urban farming deeply dotty.

    The magazine extols the virtues of globalised food production as a route to cheaper, affordable food and denies the value of home-grown food as a route to sustainable communities and economies.

    Saying no to blueberries, editor Vicky Richardson writes, is all about gesture...

    Just like putting a windmill on your roof, buying local food, or better still growing your own, shows that you are being responsible and 'doing your bit'.


    So what's the answer to global food price inflation, food shortages, the need for new controls and forthcoming water shortages?

    Should we just not bother to respond to the fact that in developed countries, it takes ten calories worth of energy from fossil fuels - in the form of fertilizers, pesticides, irrigation and transportation fuel - to get one calorie back in the form of food?

    I guess one answer is to go to the food hall at the swanky Harvey Nichols department store, marvel at how well stocked it is, buy a $4 turnip and take it home carefully wrapped in a Missoni scarf.

    But maybe another is to develop ways in which we can cultivate secure and sustainable local food supply chains and create business models that make it affordable both in terms of cash and carbon.

    I don't much like worthy wisdom - but perhaps this is one to put the pomegranate juice aside for?

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