Holiday Hackathon – Christmas Charity Campaign Tackles Food Poverty
Scientists have launched a Christmas-themed photography competition focussed on the famously festive red Poinsettia flower which will provide fresh data for machine-learning research while supporting a local charity. For each photograph submitted, the University of Lincoln will make a donation to Mint Lane Café – a community café and charitable organisation in Lincoln City Centre, […]
Scientists have launched a Christmas-themed photography competition focussed on the famously festive red Poinsettia flower which will provide fresh data for machine-learning research while supporting a local charity.
For each photograph submitted, the University of Lincoln will make a donation to Mint Lane Café – a community café and charitable organisation in Lincoln City Centre, which makes nutritious meals for those in food poverty by using ingredients which might otherwise be wasted.
The donations will support volunteers at the café to provide delicious Christmas meals throughout the festive season, to Lincoln residents who might otherwise not be able to afford it.
The University holds a significant crop of strawberries on its robotic fruit farm and fresh vegetables are grown from its walled garden at Riseholme Campus. Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic the University donated the produce to Mint Lane Café in Lincoln to support the valuable work it does in the community.
CJ Drinkall, General Manager at Mint Lane Café, said “Our core aims are to prevent social isolation and tackle local food poverty. We want to be able to maintain this with a sustainable food system and a big part of that is combating the issue of food waste.
“We rely solely on retail surplus, as well as fresh food donations from local farms and growers in order to achieve this. But we want to close the loop further, and hope that the support of local companies at the forefront of this, like University of Lincoln, will enable us to grow.
“Mint Lane Café offers an all-year round, welcoming, relaxed space to eat good food, meet like-minded people, volunteer, get involved, or engage with other groups that meet at the Mental health and Wellbeing Centre where its located.
“Thank you to the University of Lincoln and to the community for getting involved – all of the donations we receive will go towards providing delicious Christmas meals for those who need it most and further our projects for the future.”
The poinsettia images will be entered into a ‘Holiday Hackathon’ competition – bringing together students from all over the UK, and further afield, to work on machine learning challenges to define the perfect poinsettia.
The photographs submitted to the hackathon will help to shape the future of the flower industry, as technological innovation, artificial intelligence and robotics such as this are transforming the UK’s agricultural sector.
The Holiday Hackathon is being jointly organised by the AgriFoRwArdS Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) and Lincoln Agri-Robotics. AgriFoRwArdS is the world’s first CDT for agri-food robotics. Funded by EPSRC, the CDT has been established by the University of Lincoln, in collaboration with the Universities of Cambridge and East Anglia.
Elizabeth Sklar, Professor in Robotics at the University’s Lincoln Institute for Agri-Food Technology, said “We are delighted to be supporting Mint Lane Café throughout the Christmas holidays. We are really grateful for all poinsettia photograph submissions.
“Each picture contributes valuable information to our growing database of plant images. We use these data to inform our research on ‘precision agriculture’, where Artificial Intelligence (AI) is applied to analyse data and help growers make decisions about crop care and harvesting.
“Our aim is to develop methods that use land more efficiently and reduce use of herbicides and pesticides, chemicals which can be harmful to the environment.”
More information about the Holiday Hackathon, including how to submit images, can be found here.