Todmorden in West Yorkshire has created a new way of thinking about how we relate to our surroundings. The Incredible Edible Todmorden initiative was started by a small group of people planting vegetables in ‘leftover’, under-utilised, poorly-managed and boring spaces. Such spaces can be found in all towns and cities.

The initiative has transformed the public realm into herb gardens, vegetable patches and orchards for use by the whole community. This volunteer-led growing scheme is based around a number of simple principles, such as, ‘it is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission’ and ‘if you eat you are in’. All the vegetables, herbs and fruit planted around the town are free for everyone to harvest and pick.

Local residents have embraced the aims of IET and begun to take more pride in where they live. Local schools support this initiative by growing food in their grounds and incorporate both growing and cooking more extensively into the educational curricula. 

Many local food producers and retailers also promote and sell their products as being part of the IET ‘family’. Todmorden’s example has been copied by others and there are now more than 300 ‘Incredible Edible’ communities across the globe. 

CABE said the project “… represents a different way to address overarching global and local environmental concerns while also creating less tangible by-products such as social involvement, integration, civic pride and an investment in the built environment.”