pam warhurst and edible todmorden, england: ‘how we can eat our landscapes’

SITTING AT A KITCHEN TABLE with like-minded neighbors in her English hometown several years ago, Pam Warhurst helped found a dynamic greening group called Incredible Edible Todmorden. No board meetings, no surveys or reports first, she says: They did it “without a flippin’ strategy document,” because they thought that creating gardens–especially food gardens–in unused spaces around town, reconnecting citizens to the source of their food as a first step toward sustainability, was very simply a good idea. “We call it propaganda gardening,” she says. Indeed.

“I wondered if it was possible to take a town like Todmorden and focus on local food to re-engage people with the planet we live on, create the sort of shifts in behaviour we need to live within the resources we have, stop us thinking like disempowered victims…,” Pam is quoted as saying on the TED site.

Visit Incredible Edible Todmorden’s website to learn about its orchards, herb gardens, and more that now grace a range of unexpected spaces and are strengthening the fabric of its community in the most delicious way. Not content to rest on veg alone, a fish farm is planned for the local high school, and a growing network of locally produced eggs.

  1. narf7 says:

    I have just discovered the story of Todmorden and the indubitable Pam Warhurst recently. I remembered seeing her on an episode of Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall and remembered her single minded desire to convert her town no matter what and never minding about the restrictions of ownership and boundaries. I love her story and I love her bravado. I love it so much that I think that it might be part of the answer to a local problem of disenfranchised underemployed communities ticking over with hopelessness and despair. Is this the answer to some of our problems? Is it transferable to anywhere other than Todmorden? That remains to be seen but the more I hear about Pam, the more excited I get! Cheers for this post and for giving Pam the chance to excite your readers like I have been excited

  2. Deborah B says:

    Love it! What a nice change to see a community proactively organizing and uniting aroung the issue of local food. Here we are involved in the fight against hydro-fracking and against the Continental gas pipeline; these issues divide us (but are oh so critical for our future). But how much easier might it be to organize and involve everyone around the issue of local food and support for local growers? Todmorden is lucky to have the passion and voice of Pam Warhurst, but I think the Incredible Edible movement is definitely transferrable; we just need to take some responsibility for making it happen in each of our local communities.

  3. Joanna says:

    I discovered this video this week too and posted a link on my blog. It is brilliant. Not so sure about the lack of strategy documents that might put me out of a future career in sustainable management – but seriously I think it is great that there is such a dynamic person in the community willing to get on and just do it.

    1. margaret says:

      You are very funny, Joanna. JUST DO IT should be our mantra for the moment. I remember all the meetings I used to go to and it is painful even thinking of it…wasted time galore. I think strategy is good, but not when it’s paralyzing and there are too many committees to get anything done.

  4. Beverly says:

    Bravo! The video is marvelous.
    What an encouraging string of events blossoming forth from a single kitchen table meeting. It reminds me of the Walt Disney video from the 60’s where he demonstrated nuclear power by tossing one ping pong ball into a room filled with mousetraps and other ping pong balls. Anyone else remember that film? Just one action caused large string of reactions.
    Pam is a dynamic speaker and very effectively puts forth her point. You can see the driving force within her. I wish she was my neighbor!

  5. Beverly says:

    Found it on Youtube. Here is a more modern approximation of the Walt Disney exercise… same result.


  6. gloria cole says:

    A very dynamic speaker and a very dynamic idea. We have tried a similar movement here in rural Alabama without much success. It is amazing how growing food can become such a volatile political issue! Our gardens were picketed also. The cc translation of this presentation, unfortunately, is a tragedy for those of us who depend on cc to augment our hearing..

    1. margaret says:

      Hi, Gloria. I loved this video. I hear you about the volatile, political issues around this. Sorry re: the cc; I wonder if they will improve that? (I don’t do videos myself, so I am not familiar with what all is involved.)

      Hi, Aubyn. Nice to see you here (and the other day!). Yes, a very moving video and speaker. I have tried not to spend all day on TED site, too…but oops, here we go again!

  7. Aubyn says:

    Thanks for sharing this Margaret. I was starting to recover a bit of from my days as a TED junkie and then your post reactivated my habit.

    This is a perfect hit however for anyone with the apocolyptic blues. I got a little choked up listening to her closing words, “…Through the power of small actions, through an organic process, we are starting, at last, to believe in ourselves–in the capacity within each and every one of us to build a different and a kinder future.”

    Lets save the world with gardening!

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