I first heard of Incredible Edibles three years ago when I embarked upon a Permaculture Design Certificate course. The hosts for the course invited in evening speakers, two of whom were particularly entertaining. They spoke of how their community had begun to create edible spaces in and around their market town, a project that had school children bringing watering cans to school so that they could water the food beds on their journey.
The idea made it to my classroom. I led a lesson on deep ecologism and how the philosophy manifests in practice, one example being permaculture and the second the Transition Town Movement. One of the students declared:
Can’t say that I have, but one local venture ‘Every Egg Matters’ does involve local people keeping chickens and selling on their eggs. The organisers have been tracking the growth of local business through this one product.
I had found the guest speakers inspiring and three years later, decided to go back to see how they were getting on. In not planning for this trip nor arranging to meet with anyone involved (although I have initiated contact), we followed “the green route” and made it a photography documentary.
There is an alarming increase in the demand for food banks and emergency food aid within the UK. To ascertain the extent and nature of usage a number of rapid studies have been conducted. A review of these was conducted by Warwick University for the Food Ethics Council. Although there may be methodological issues with the research due to the nature of its rapidity, food bank and emergency food aid is only used by the poorest of households. Food insecurity is also highly associated with bereavement. Additionally, there is a perceived stigma attached to admitting to not being able to feed your family.
As the old adage teaches: “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”, the idea of involving a community in the production of its own food would seem to be more prudent than charitable aid. And Incredible Edibles educates. As you follow The Green Route, you’ll find many instructions on when to harvest a particular plant. and when it is best left alone. Children are taught to peek inside a beehive and not to fear one of the best friends of a healthy ecosystem.
Since 2007, the idea seems to have sprouted and like a good reseeding plant, has spread. From humble beginnings, there are now more than 100 incredibly edible towns across the globe. It is not unlike the Transition Town movement, but is more focused on feeding the community. With the alarming increase in the demand for emergency food aid, educating a community to become self-reliant in food is far more than a small idea, but that one that is well-past its sell by date, much like the remaining red and blackcurrants and raspberries around the town.
Although very unlike the profuse marjoram, ox-eye daisies, sage, mint, feverfew, camomile, cornflowers, apples, plums, damsons and I could go on if only my identification skills and memory were much better than they are.
One of the founders of the growing movement of incredible edibles is Pam Warhurst, who here tells her story:
I enjoyed the second of my adventures into local ecoprojects and hope to go back to visit the incredible farm and incredible aqua garden to see aquaponics in action. These will require a bit of forward planning, but in the meantime – next stop: “Horton Community Farm” for a scheduled workday.
Photos by Safar Fiertze, taken on the Green Route, Todmorden. Click on image to enlarge
For the first of the local adventures see: Bedford Field Community Forest Garden