The Royal Botanic Garden of Madrid Juan Carlos I Royal Botanic Gardens, Alcalá de Henares University

Expo BigPicnic: A Co-Created Experience

Did you know that a third of the food we produce is wasted? Can you interpret all the information on a product’s label? Do you know what you can do to become a responsible food consumer? These were some of the questions addressed during the BigPicnic Expo held at the Royal Botanic Garden of Madrid. The expo was held on 3rd and 4th of June 2017. Through a variety of workshops, talks, debates, and exhibits the expo sought to engage people with issues related to food security matters.  

BigPicnic expo infographicPhoto credit: The Royal Botanic Garden of Madrid

The ideas behind the BigPicnic expo were generated after the first co-creation session, where a diverse group of people discussed hot topics related to food production. The main topics that came out from this meeting served as a guide for developing a set of 10 infographic panels, which were displayed at the expo.

Visitors were able to walk around the panels, which contained interesting information in an attractive way. They included an introductory explanation of the important role in food production and development that botanic gardens have had, recognizing them as spaces of public dialogue. It also stressed the importance of working hand in hand with scientists, politicians, and the general public through participatory approaches, highlighting the value of BigPicnic as a project of this nature. The set of infographics also covered important information on food security, such as what this concept means and why it matters, the food life cycle, and the implications of food production from a traditional, industrialised and organic perspective. They also exposed some of the factors affecting food access, such as prices, education, and income levels. One of the infographics provided a brief guideline to understanding how to interpret the labels on products and buying responsibly. Another one showed figures related to food waste and highlighted practices that we can adopt to decrease this problem. You can download the panels in Spanish to use them in your own exhibit.

Along with the panels, BigPicnic Expo offered attractive workshops, such as honey extraction and tasting, and forest foraging. It also included talks and debates with experts in the field, as well as several stands from NGOs, institutions, associations, research companies, and food producers.

Visitor tracking was used to assess the impact of the panels and measure responses towards the infographics (e.g. time spent at each panel). This highlighted the areas that visitors are interested in or concerned about and will be used to improve future exhibitions. For example, direction arrows will be added to guide people through the panels.

Overall, co-creation was an effective strategy to generate the content of this exhibition and gathering expert opinion.