Sarah from Transition Willesden, who has an allotment column in the Lady magazine, wanted to share this article with everyone. You can listen to the BBC Radio 4 Food Programme mentioned here
My prediction for 2012, which will hold true, I hope, for many more years ahead, is that the movement for community kitchen gardens now sweeping the country will gather momentum. I call it a movement because I observe real political energy in many of these initiatives – they are not just about individuals and families tilling a plot to provide food for their own consumption.
Community food-growing has an ideological edge: it tends to be initiated by people who want to eat real food from local sources rather than food-like ready-meals or the junk food undermining our children’s health available on every high street. They are people who deplore our dependence on food imports, the near-monopoly of supermarkets and politicians’ lack of concern for food security. They believe that good farming matters, that we can all get into it, even in cities. They want locally grown food, and are interested not just in growing it themselves but in simplifying and revitalising local supply chains. Above all, they have an appetite for action.
BBC Radio 4’s The Food Programme recently featured some of these remarkable community enterprises, including Incredible Edible Todmorden, the aim of which is to grow and campaign for local food. IET’s ambition is to make Todmorden, a small town on the borders of Lancashire and Yorkshire, selfsufficient in food by 2018. It began with a small group who started to grow food in public places to be picked, shared and eaten by passers-by. In addition to the town centre ‘propaganda’ beds there are herbs at the railway station, trees at the fire station, fruit trees all around the health centre and an apothecary’s garden at the back. Food is grown in lots of spaces around the town, organised by the community growers’ group. IET is a membership organisation: ‘If you eat, you’re in’, said spokesperson Pam Warhurst. ‘This is not a talking, sitting down, vacillating organisation. It’s about small ideas, big ambitions and lots of action.’
The extent of this action in just a few years is astonishing: there are seven orchards containing 520 trees, with a target of 1,000. Every school in Todmorden is involved, and the latest initiatives aim to provide motivation and skills for young people to start micro-businesses in food production. IET has Lottery funding for a food hub at Todmorden High School. This will include a fish and salad farm based on aquaponics. The bid included funding for a ‘foodinspirer’ whose role is to encourage people to use the food grown and to cook. At nearby Walsden, a big patch of donated land has a polytunnel, ponds and beds and is now established as a growing and learning centre, a seedbed for business opportunities as well as vegetables and trees. Many public bodies now back the campaign, not just with words, but with land, labour and money.
The project has had a huge impact on local wellbeing. Crime is down and vandalism is rare. In fact, photos attached to the raised beds encourage picking by showing when the crops are ready. And as the ever-practical members say, ‘People don’t vandalise parsnips’.
For further details visit: http://www.incredible-edible-todmorden.co.uk/