Over the Thanksgiving holiday, our sons were home for a visit. Our one son introduced me to some of his favorite podcasts. One was about a town and its fruits and veggies program. "Incredible Edible Todmorden". It is such an incredible project. What started as a germ of an idea (no pun intended) has been replicated in other communities on almost every continent.
According to their website, Incredible Edible Todmorden is "A movement made up of passionate people working together for a world where all share responsibility for the future wellbeing of our planet and ourselves. We aim to provide access to good local food for all, through working together; learning – from field to classroom to kitchen; supporting local business"
It started as such a simple idea. Why don't we plan edible food gardens, open to all, around town? There was usable space in front of the rail station, the police station and the health clinic. And so, a group of volunteers planted raised beds of fruits, veggies and herbs. The results- anyone can pick and benefit from the food. Once they started planting, the question then became- who knows about growing food? The older citizens of course. So, they became engaged. As the community saw how food was grown, the residents became more supportive of local farmers and businesses. In seeing how the community appreciated the food, there was a concern that the local students needed to have agriculture classes and so curriculum was changed and developed for the local schools. There are all sorts of learning going on- from landscape designing, planting, tending, harvesting to cooking and enjoying the fruits of their labors. That simple idea has a multitude of benefits:
- Brings communities together- food is there to share
- Reduces vandalism and crime- people have respect for community spaces
- Engages all walks of life and all ages- their motto, "If you eat, you are in."
- Increases local businesses- the have a food tourisms in their town, people from all over want to see how the incredible edible process works
- Involves all civic entities, like retirement homes and schools - educational programs have been developed for the young people
- Replicated in other towns and jurisdictions- over 120 towns in UK and over 700 globally
What an exciting project. I especially like that the people who became involved had said enough of waiting for the government to do something. They realized that there was a responsibility that we all share with the environment, food and with one another. They didn't wait for permission or grants. They just did it. As one of the founding members, Pam Warhurst, says about the benefit of the process, "once we start the power of small actions, we start to believe in ourselves."
You will be inspired and encouraged. You may not be in a position to have an edible garden or live in a community that does. However, their story might inspire you that by doing small actions you can create change. It will give you faith and hope in a broken world.