Over two years he mapped a 25-hectare area, marking up both where food could be produced and where it already was. The result is Edible Hackney. “The map gives an identity to urban space that is unnamed and in some cases unappreciated,” Tomkins explains. It’s not an urban farm in the traditional sense but a grassroots reclamation of space for food growing. Already along the streets are vines, tomatoes, runner beans and plum trees, and on the roof of a seventeen-storey tower block Mikey has set up beehives.
Tomkins explains that it is both an exercise in psychogeography (as the map enables the flaneur to picture a very different landscape of vegetable plots, orchards or beehives) and an investigation of examples of agricultural yields that Hackney could produce, allowing the residents to get an idea what percentage of their current diet could be supported using locally grown food. “This translates ideas of ‘local food’ into tangible, interactive and playful stories, reconnecting people to a place through local food-growing.” Thus, the map charts what could be next, an intriguing cartography of what is real mixed with future hopes, marking out the city’s potential for sustainable living.