Update on mapping milk churn stands

Posted by b-unicycling on 21 April 2023 in English. Last updated on 22 April 2023.

In my last diary post, I had written about the beginnings of mapping milk churn stands. This was kindly featured in the weeklyOSM 662 which resulted in a bit more attention from the OSM community from several countries. Thanks for all your kind comments!


When I ran an overpass-turbo query on Easter Monday, I noticed a sudden increase of mapped milk churn stands in Finland, a considerable increase (which has still grown more). I checked the changeset history to see who had caused this, found out it was user houtari and sent him a message to thank him. What followed was a very interesting exchange about milk churn stands in Finland. He even sent me a link to a most interesting article in Finnish, kindly translated by a certain popular translation website, but I’ll give you the original link, so you can decide what to use:

It also led us to translate the wiki page into Finnish.

Here’s how the tagging increased in Finland since I mapped the first one: increase in Finland

It was helped somewhat by Finnish photographer Jyrki Kokko having photographed about 200 of them recently in the Jämsä region in central Finland. Houtari got in contact with him, and he turned out to be familiar with OSM already, so he could easily add his. Hurray!

Issues raised

Houtari has also asked me if it would be possible to get a preset into the iD editor for them, because a few people who have never mapped before in Finland want to add them, and it would make it easier for them just to type maitolaituri into the search bar rather than going into the whole tagging process - which isn’t difficult with some experience, but inclusion is everything, right?

So, I started that on github - which was a first to me. Big thanks for all the support there so far and especially bhousel for drawing the icon so quickly. The process seems a bit stuck now, maybe partly because I can’t figure out how to change the labels, as we’re no longer waiting for an icon.

We’re also thinking about refining the tagging scheme. I have started adding ele only recently, because I’m interested if the altitude has something to do with the distribution in Ireland. It’s more complicated than that, and the high amount of demolished ones might falsify the impression as well. I’m also thinking that the width and depth could be interesting to estimate how many churns were placed there.

The tagging scheme might also depend on the country/ region, for example roof:shape would make sense in Finland, but not at all in Ireland.

A very important problem we have encountered in Ireland, Finland and Germany is that not all of the ones we encounter now are genuine milk churn stands. In all three countries, people build them now (or at least since about the year 2000) as memorials or at least not to serve their original use. I have tried to address that on the wiki page, but it requires some local knowledge or research to decide at times.

Progress in Ireland

Meanwhile, we’ve made a little progress in Ireland as well. User danieldegroot2 somehow managed to find a couple of milk churn stands on mapillary. I’ve tried, and I can’t find any. But anyway, I followed up on some of them and found some more, but by far not as many as the Finns! milk churn stands increase Ireland

I also found one on my road that I passed hundreds of times without knowing what it is! It has been confirmed by a farmer in his 70s who grew up around here, though, and who could tell me the locations of all 9 MCS that used to be along our about 5km stretch of road. distribution of milk churn stands on Neworchard Rd uMap - some farmers apparently did not like to share

Many local people have also told me that they would look out for them now. I’d prefer if they mapped them, alas.

I’m fully aware that this is a very niche topic, as usual with me, but I’ve learned so much about the dairy history in Ireland and Finland, and I’m just blown away by the response in Finland within only about two weeks. Oh, they have a Facebook group for milk churn stands in Finland with 500 members as well, if anyone is interested. :D

We’ll see where the journey will take us.

Location: Lukkoila, Jämsä sub-region, Central Finland, Western and Central Finland, Mainland Finland, 42100, Finland


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