You are here

Irish researcher puts Boston on the map

6 Apr 2017

The League of Urban Canners in Boston practices an alternative economic model of food production where members of the community work together to produce food for themselves.

BRUSSELS, April 4, 2017 - Irish researcher presents her latest global food sharing research at the Annual American Association of Geographers Conference in Boston April 5-9. 

Anna Davies, a professor of geography, environment and society at Trinity College Dublin is researching the impact food sharing might have on the future of our cities. Her Share City project, funded by the European Research Council, is mapping a big rise in Internet-enabled food sharing initiatives that tackle food poverty, cut food waste and strengthen communities.

From shared kitchens to underground gardens, Share City has collected data on more than 4,000 of these initiatives in 100 cities around the world – including Boston, with 55 enterprises -- and put them into a searchable database, and map, open to the public.

One creative Boston initiative listed on the database is the Boston Tree Party. At its core, it promotes planting fruit trees in the city, but it also “catalyzes a deep and playful engagement with the issues of food access; health; environmental stewardship; biodiversity; public space; and civic engagement.” Also listed on the database: the Boston Area Freegan and Dumpster Diving Meetup, the Somerville Yogurt Making Cooperative, and the Ja'Maple Plain Sugaring Collective.

Food sharing is serious business

As an academic topic, food sharing is clearly ‘in.’ Davies and colleagues will be speaking about food sharing at the Annual American Association of Geographers Conference in Boston April 5-9. See Davies' sessions, including "Food sharing: contemporary cultures, practices and economies,” with Penn Loh, Tufts University; and Duck Caldwell, Boston Area Gleaners. Davies will also be on the panel, The European Research Council – attractive funding opportunities for frontier research. Session Description: The main mission of the European Research Council (ERC) is to encourage the highest quality research in Europe through competitive funding and to support investigator-driven frontier research across all fields, on the basis of scientific excellence. In the long term, it looks to substantially strengthen and shape the European research system. Since its foundation in 2007, the ERC has funded over 5000 research projects and has become a European and global trademark for research excellence. The ERC offers research grants of up to EUR 3.5 million to individual scientists regardless of nationality, who have the free choice of research topic, team and location within Europe. 

Food security and climate change

By the time the Share City project is finished in 2020, Davies will know more about its potential to help city dwellers feed themselves in years to come. “It is critical that our urban food systems become more innovative now to deal with uncertainty around food security in the face of climatic changes in the future,” says Davies.


Davies’ research is among several studies into food and nutrition that have been funded over the past decade by the European Research Council, the EU’s premiere agency for frontier research. Read more about Share City in The Taste Tests: Can science help us eat better? on ERC=Science², a pan-European communications campaign using popular scientific themes such as ‘cities of the future’ and ‘food and nutrition’ to highlight the scientific research funded by the European Research Council and the potential impact it can have on society.

Media contact:

Diane Fresquez



Subscribe to read about Europe's next eureka moments!