Supporting new business models and local shopping by enhancing local food supply chains.

Food production is one of the biggest contributors to climate change and environmental degradation. Food security concerns mount as rising oil prices and population growth put increasing pressure on land resources to meet food and energy needs. A resilient local food economy is the most sustainable way to feed the local community and also engages and educates citizens in the transition to sustainability.

In this project, we proposed a scheme called “SmartBarrow”, which supports local food production and consumption in Lancaster through the use of smart technology and food provenance. Using a simple hand-held device, local food producers upload product data directly to the SmartBarrow website when fresh produce is packed and ready for market. The farmer prints a QR label which is stuck on every food crate making provenance information available to the shopper at point of sale. The website also showcases the location of fresh produce in real time. Local shoppers see which local produce is available and where they can buy it.

By making the supply chain visible, consumers can actively change their purchasing behavior. Local consumption is expected to achieve economical (local investments), social (formation of a community of practice) and environmental (support of more small scale, location sensitive farming) benefits for local communities which lead to increased resilience. The scheme follows the philosophy of the Open Source community and is easily scalable and implementable in other locations.

This project later on supported the emergence of a GBP 250k funded project at Lancaster, known as BARTER.

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