Particularly in the context of the present economic climate, initiatives are emerging in communities across Europe that involve the planting of any suitable piece of land and sharing the produce grown. The benefits of these kinds of movements are multi-fold.
Picture by Incredible Edible
The garden of a school, a hospital, a roundabout, etc. are all places where vegetables or fruit can be grown: a public space to be reinvented and consumer habits to be changed.
Often it is the case that people want to take action and do something, but they don't know what to do or how to do it. Initiatives like Incredible Edible have created a space whereby local communities can self-organise in the planting of food that is home-grown, organic and healthy. Community-gathering events like food festivals help to bring people of a locality together, from all backgrounds, young and old, and enjoy the produce that they have helped to grow. Specific projects based around food can educate and create awareness about sustainable living, healthy environments, and quality produce.
Spotlight: Todmorden, UK Using the inspiration of Incredible Edible, the town of Todmorden is creating its own model of sustainable living with a philosophy is based on maintaining three principal areas: Community, Education and Business. An example of the community's innovation is its approach towards Education.
- Project 1: In every school in Todmorden are plots of cultivated land, maintained by the schools, which enable the development of children and young persons in a healthier and more economical environment. As part of new agricultural courses, the students of one local highschool grow their own fruit and vegetables and keep chickens for eggs and meat. All of this fresh produce is used directly in the school kitchen, thus forming part of the students' daily diet and education on quality food.
- Project 2: Establishment of a market garden learning centre, which is about 1 acre of fenced-off land and several large polytunnels. The centre is being used to train young people to grow food and business skills with the idea to kick-start new businesses producing food. With the help of students and volunteers, the learning centre has been able to flourish - e.g. their planting of apple trees all around the town will allow for the yield to be sold through the centre to local people.
Further innovativion is also evident in the town: in any unused space around Todmorden, planting beds have been created where fruit and vegetables now grow; a community herb garden sits inobtrusively on the side of one of the main roads; produce can be found growing outside of the police station, the fire station, the train station and even the health centre. All of these growing spaces have been created and are run by local volunteers.
The message of the Todmorden community is: "Go ahead, take some, it's free!"
Examples of similar initiatives
Plant - Water - Share these are the three key words of this citizens' initiative Planter – Arroser – Partager voici les trois mots clé de cette initiative citoyenne
Urban fruit for urban communities – developing a skilled community of Londoners to plant, care for and harvest fruit trees, thereby connecting urban communities and increasing access to fresh fruit.
Links and other sources
- Watch a short film of the 'Incredible Edible' Todmorden story here, or visit the Todmorden homepage.
- Other towns are beginning to follow Todmorden's model. With movements like Incredible Edible, you can too! Here is how you can take part.
- Incredible Edible has nearly 40 groups across the UK and 100 worldwide! Go here for a map of Incredible Edible communities across the globe.