Posted by Tom Boyden in Europe Food System Cycle Tour, Urban Agriculture on May 26, 2013
Incredible Edible Todmorden is the holy grail of urban agriculture. The mecca of small town sustainability. The Emerald City of urban farming.
Before I visited Todmorden, I imagined it in my head as a paradise for the local food movement and modern urban growing.
Yes, the police station is decked out in edible plants, the train station steers you towards a green route of the city and the Todmorden city council allows a bunch of crazy citizens to plant vegetables in temporary gardens on unused city green space. Top things off with the community’s insatiable zeal for food and goods sourced locally and you have a hard combination to beat when measuring the sustainability and resilience of a community. All of these things were as advertised and more.
Older men and women were running everything. Not just older, wiser than your grandparents old.
Okay, there were a good amount of young people partaking in local market events and in some of the growing affairs. The people running the show, though, were the ‘elderly’ folks. Those 60 somethings, acting like 20 somethings, growing with guerilla attitudes, embracing and loving any sort of opposition in their way.
When invited to a party at Prince Charles’ estate celebrating organic food production, the Incredible Edible Tod crew brought their most critical opponents. That’s fighting with love.
Often, urban agriculture initiatives are jammed with young people looking to grow – that is city urban agriculture though, this is small town urban growing (great categorization, eh?) and these crazed in the head urban growers are often the oldest and most experienced gardeners of the community. Mary, one of the co-founders of Incredible Edible, even asked me the question, is this urban agriculture? I shouted at her, pleasantly of course, yes!
Seriously, a 68 year old woman, Estelle, mastered blogging and social media in the blink of an eye! (Relative to her age, obviously.)
Now, this seemingly made this place much more majestic and insightful than I had previously thought possible. It also got me thinking about the urgency of the current management system of many small communities centered around gardening, edible landscapes, and farmer’s markets.
We all know that farmers are old and we need more youth in the farming scene, right? Did you think about the small garden clubs, the Incredible Edible communities, and the county farmer’s market organizes?
Most of these people are aging and with the immense amount of work they are putting into creating a sustainable food system, they aren’t aging any slower. There is a pressing need for youth to gain the skills necessary to organize, run and encourage these communities to continue to flourish. Luckily, there are many of these wise and highly experienced growers to aid interested young people to kickstart the next generation of growers.
It’s urgent that young people connect with these experienced growers in communities around the globe, as well as vice versa. Not only will we learn about growing food, we’ll learn about growing community.
Check out Incredible Edible Todmorden in this video from my Europe food system cycle tour: