Sustainable Cities™

Todmorden: Vegetables are sprouting up among the flowerbeds in Todmorden

In the small market town of Todmorden in West Yorkshire in the North of England, 280 km from London, sprouting vegetables have taken over flower beds and green areas. Everywhere, in graveyards and car parks, at the station, on roofs, even in disused rowing boats and wellington boots school playgrounds, the 'Incredible Edible Todmorden' project has planted vegetables and fruit trees and bushes. The aim of the project is to make sure that local foods are grown and eaten throughout this provincial town. The town's companies, schools, farmers and the entire local community are involved in this inspiring, expanding project.

<a href="" target="_blank">Madudstilling på skole i Todmorden. Venligst udlånt af Incredible Edible Todmorden, 22 juni 2009.</a>

The 'Incredible Edible' project began with a few illicitly planted herbs in flower beds near the railway station. Voluntary enthusiasts have since helped the project to grow and today, most of the town's inhabitants are involved in the project's many initiatives in some way or other. At the same time, unauthorised methods have been shelved and the Incredible Edible project has led to positive dialogue with public and private institutions. The intention is to make Todmorden a garden town full of tasty, fresh produce which the townspeople can harvest or pick on their way through the town.

The local fire station, the railway station and the town's hospital have now become involved in the project. The town's schools and high school are actively involved in many of the project's initiatives. Public flowerbeds are being transformed into shared herb beds and kitchen gardens, while vegetables, fruit trees and gardens are shooting up in public parks and green areas. And Incredible Edible wants to involve even more public institutions so that their soil can also be used in the town's joint food production scheme.

The project has now developed into much more than simply vegetable production. The initiative 'Every Egg Matters' focuses on local self-sufficiency in eggs and has engaged most of the town by means of an Easter Festival and the town fete where the focus was on relevant information about local egg production. A new book includes interviews with older citizens about their memories and knowledge about food production in historic Todmorden. Finally, a future fantasy project called 'Dream Streets' encourages citizens to visualise how vegetables might be planted in their dream town.

Raised bed among graves. Courtesy of Incredible Edible Todmorden, 20 June 2009.

All the town's schools are now involved in the project and have laid out kitchen gardens in which the students grow their own vegetables. Several other schools have grown plants in disused rowing boats and some vegetables are actually growing in children's cast-off wellington boots. Todmorden High School wants to inspire its students to make healthy food using local produce, including recipes from their own cookbook 'What's cooking in Tod?' and through inspirational personalities. The philosophy of this is that the way students prepare and arrange their food is crucial to their own overall health.

Incredible Edible is by no means a short-term project. It is a question of changing the way people think; the project compares it to sustainability - a new way of living and viewing the world. The cornerstone of the project's work is local commitment. The town's citizens are involved at all levels of the project, and interest in it has been growing steadily since its inception. Festivals and other key events are held to help inhabitants share the experience and the pleasure of producing fresh local produce. In the long term, Incredible Edible has ambitions of making a difference by spreading the local message regionally as well as nationally.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 / By Maria Nørlyng Leal

Last updated Tuesday, January 21, 2014