The town of Todmorden, in West Yorkshire, England has a rather ambitious plan: to become completely self-sufficient in their food production/consumption by 2018. And one way they are doing this is to plant beds of vegetables in public spaces all over town. Locals are encouraged to come and harvest what they need, when they need it. Read on for how this project come to be.An article by Vincent Graff published in the UK paper the Daily Mail tells the story. Three years ago, two of Todmorden citizens, Mary Clear and Pam Warhurst, were troubled by the state of the world and wanted to take some positive action. They met with other local women in a cafe and decided that they needed to start locally. Mary began by tearing down the wall that separates her garden from the sidewalk. Then she planted a vegetable garden and hung signs inviting passers-by to help themselves. People were reluctant at first but soon they caught on and the Incredible Edible project was born.
This action has grown to over 70 vegetable beds that are planted all over town in places like the police station forecourt and the railway station. Residents come and harvest what they need and so far, no one has been greedy and grabbed the whole harvest. The idea is spreading, too, with visits from the Prince of Wales and plans to offer similar programs in other towns. There is also interest from people in other countries like New Zealand and Canada.
The founders of Incredible Edible admit that total food self-sufficiency is a rather big goal. Says Mary Clear: 'It's a very ambitious aim. But if you don't aim high, you might as well stay in bed, mightn't you?'