“This is a revolution,” says Mary Clear, 56, a grandmother of ten and co-founder of Incredible Edible, as the scheme is called. “But we are gentle revolutionaries. Everything we do is underpinned by kindness.”
The whole idea came about when she and co-founder Pam Warhurst, the former owner of the town’s Bear Cafe, began fretting about the state of the world and wondered what they could do. They decided they needed to act locally.
So now raspberries, apricots and apples are grown on the canal towpath; blackcurrants, redcurrants and strawberries beside the doctor’s surgery; beans and peas outside the college; cherries in the supermarket car park; and mint, rosemary, thyme and fennel by the health centre. There are even vegetables growing in the graveyard. And it’s all there for the taking, as needed, when needed.
The vegetable plots are the most visible sign of an amazing plan: to make Todmorden the first town in the country that is self-sufficient in food.
The journalist writing the story even comments that “the place radiates warmth. People speak to each other in the street, wave as neighbours drive past, smile. If the phrase hadn’t been hijacked, the words ‘we’re all in this together’ would spring to mind.”
Warhurst even says there have been unexpected benefits from the project—like a reduction in vandalism in Todmorden.