Call for Expressions of Interest: food and farming enterprise research opportunity

The Food Data Collaboration are seeking a freelance researcher to carry out a short-term project to support the development of a framework for a new connective infrastructure that will strengthen agroecological food supply chains in the UK. The research will form part of the Food Data Collaboration project, which is funded by The National Lottery Community Fund until March 2024.

Expressions of Interest due by 5pm on Friday 6th January 2023 by email to


Mid-January 2023: Researcher appointment and project commencement

March 2023: Review of draft report with partners

April 2023: Submission of final report

Budget: £6,000.00 (inclusive of VAT)


The Food Data Collaboration (FDC) aims to create a connective infrastructure that will strengthen agroecological food supply chains in the UK by giving producers access to wider markets and reducing barriers for communities wishing to source agroecological produce. The connective data infrastructure will enable a marketplace of agroecologically produced food, by building interoperability between existing marketplaces in the ecosystem. The infrastructure, and resulting marketplace and data will be managed using commons governance principles.

To ensure the integrity of the commons we must define effective boundaries to ensure the values of the commons are maintained. The FDC Governance Group has agreed the following vision for the commons:

  • All food is produced agroecologically
  • Everyone working in food systems, from farm to fork, works with dignity and respect, earning a fair living with decent working conditions and rights
  • Every meal is truly nourishing for people, families and communities, and is affordable and accessible for all people

Research objectives

The overarching goal of this research project is to identify the conditions that must be met for produce to be sold through the network to ensure that the produce traded through the commons enables this vision.

Crucial to the success of this project is that the market should be fair to producers of every scale. To enable this, the Governance Group recognise that the rules for the boundary of this commons will change based on the scale of the food/farming enterprise involved.

Through this research we wish to:

  1. Build background understanding of what’s out there and what has been tried already 
  2. Develop a guiding framework that will help us to classify the scale of a farm enterprise, potentially building upon data available from Defra on scale/size of farm enterprises as a starting point. The framework should be simple to use and should be applicable across the food and farming sector, such that it can be used to classify arable farmers, salad producers, dairy farms, jam makers, bakers, etc.
  3. Understand any appropriate monitoring activities that could help to ensure that the vision is being realised, based on the classifications of scale identified above. The Governance Group recognises that monitoring activities may need to vary based on the scale of the farm enterprise, and has the potential to create multifunctional benefits, e.g. peer support, tracking change over time.


A report including:

  • Background research outlining examples of projects that have aimed to create a marketplace that requires boundary conditions to be met in order to participate.
  • A framework for classifying the type and scale of a food/farming enterprise into a small and discrete set of potential scales (e.g. very small, small, medium, very large, as per National Food Strategy: The Plan). The classification scale should outline a set of food/farming sectors (e.g. salad, arable, bakery, etc.), a set of criteria (e.g. turnover, number of staff, etc.) and cutoff conditions (e.g. if turnover > X then enterprise is Y scale) that indicate the scale classification of a specific food/farming enterprise. It is expected that the criteria and cutoffs will vary across sectors. It is recognised that this will be imperfect and is intended to create a proposal for a starting point.
  • Research and rationale supporting any identified framework, including why the different criteria and cutoffs for scale were chosen and any caveats or concerns identified.
  • A review of existing monitoring systems and frameworks that might be useful in ensuring those participating in the marketplace are moving in the direction of achieving the values of the commons, e.g. Global Farm Metric, Participatory Guarantee Schemes, site visits, etc.
  • Recommendations of any monitoring appropriate for the different scales. It is anticipated that the time/resource demands of any monitoring activity may need to vary based on the scale of the food/farming enterprise to ensure they are appropriate across all scales of enterprise involved.

Ways of working

The Food Data Collaboration core team work remotely, using a variety of online tools including Slack and Zoom. The Governance Group convene face-to-face twice yearly and there may be an opportunity for the researcher to join a meeting in Bristol on Thursday 16th March 2023 to present their progress to date, either in person or online.

Who we’re looking for

We’re looking for expressions of interest from individuals or small teams with expertise in UK food systems research, particularly at a producer level. 

You’ll be plugged into the latest research and data in the UK food and farming space, and ideally have an interest in and some connections within the agroecological food sector in particular. You’ll have experience in carrying out small-scale desk-based research projects, reviewing and extrapolating from existing data and making recommendations accordingly. You will know how to present findings in an accessible and engaging way to suit a variety of audiences.

You’ll be a self-starter used to autonomous working who doesn’t hesitate to ask questions or seek clarifications where necessary. You’d be ready to start work in mid-January 2023 and work through to April 2023.

How to submit your Expression of Interest

Ready to get in touch with us?

Please email Project Coordinator Sophie Paterson at with your CV and a covering document containing the following:

  • Tell us about you – your experience of food systems research (with links to your previous work where relevant) and why you’re interested in this opportunity (no more than 1 page) 
  • Set out a plan that shows us how you would approach this particular research project and any challenges you anticipate at this stage (no more than 2 pages)
  • Talk about time and money – we’d like to know your day rate and how you would propose to allocate your time within the total budget of £6,000, inclusive of VAT.

Have questions or want to know more before you apply? Please email and we can organise a call. Know someone who might be interested? Please share this opportunity with them.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *