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Incredible Edible Todmorden

August 17, 2010

A few weeks ago I visited Todmorden, a small town in West Yorkshire, half an hour by train from Manchester. A town which is making waves. About three years ago a few residents started Incredible Edible Todmorden, a project to get people to grow their own produce and bring the residents together. The aim is for the town to be self-sufficient in food by 2018. Apparently they are on course to meet that target. The local school is involved with growing as part of their studies, local businesses promote and buy the produce, even the NHS Health Centre has fruit trees growing in its grounds instead of the usual thorny bushes.

Due to an overactive imagination I thought the town would be full to bursting with edible plants; council-planted roundabouts and  troughs with leeks and tomatoes growing with not a geranium in sight…perhaps in the future. However, after a short walk from the station onto the High Street, I found the start of a wonderful trail of beds full of vegetables and herbs. The grounds of the old cottage hospital, now boarded up, have been converted for vegetable growing. There are rhubarb plants, cabbages and beans. Further along, the Community College has 1x3m beds which residents can rent and grow whatever they like to share with the community. Even the local Police Station has beds outside (corn, courgettes, herbs, radishes and much more!) Further on there was even a beautiful herb garden. There is a map with all the Incredible Edible locations available from the Tourist Information Centre, but I also enjoyed walking down the streets to see how locals had caught the growing bug.


 I met one of the core team while I was wondering round who told me that the difficult aspect of the project wasn’t getting people to grow, but getting people to take the produce. She said that it took at least 6 months for people to start picking the different crops. Sharing is encouraged, and people are welcome to take produce from the community beds for their own pot. A wonderful idea considering the often selfish times in which we live.

It was a wonderful trip and I will definitely return. I wish Todmorden the best of luck. Incredible Edible Wakefield, Huddersfield and Rossendale have already started. What about Incredible Edible Birmingham (or suburbs)??

The Independent wrote a great article about the project which can be read here.

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