13 December 2010

The Energy of Edible Cities

Reposted in full from the new economics foundation, 13 December 2010

'Listening to the BBC Food awards, it has become clear to me that food is not just enjoying a revival at the moment, but is also the most exciting area of entrepreneurship in this country – and has huge potential for revitalising our economy, one local economy at a time.

So much of this kind of idea emerges from the chattering south east, though the Transition Towns movement clearly emerged from the south west. But the north east now seems to be giving them a run for their money thanks to the emergence of the battery of ideas-in-practice around Edible Todmorden.

Edible Todmorden began with herb gardens, graduated onto planting and growing vegetables and trees around the town and then planted orchards. They are working with the council and other official bodies to find spaces of land – like the fire station and the railway station and local social landlords – to find tracts of land where things can be grown. Every school in town is now involved.

What is fascinating to me is that once you start down this path, building local economies, then history becomes far more important. Sure enough, they have a project called Dream Street that looks back into the past in order to imagine different futures.

Now that Edible Todmorden is thriving, and Middlesborough’s urban farming project is now moving in similar directions, the next Edible site is going to be York, followed by Boston in Lincolnshire.

York City Council is being urged to carry out an audit of land available for growing food throughout the city. Edible York has already joined forces with the council in July to transform an under-used plot of land by planting vegetables – and provided passers-by with salad, kale, squash, courgettes, beans and fresh herbs.

What they are doing is not that different from the Transition Towns, but it is exciting that the energy is emerging from a whole range of different transformational ideas at once. The antidote to impoverishment by supermarket monopoly and agribusiness giantism.'

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