Incredible!: Plant Veg, Grow a Revolution is the story of Incredible Edible Todmorden (IET), the food-growing project in Yorkshire which has inspired people around the world to look at their urban spaces in a very different way. In Todmorden you can pick sweet corn in front of the police station, salads up the High Street, and the town has even spawned a new industry, what they call "Vegetable Tourism". IET was founded on a simple idea, that engaging people in growing food is the best way to engage people in the wider issues. As the authors put it, "in a world where ordinary people feel increasingly alienated from the forces that shape their lives, whether that’s governments, banks, oil companies or agribusiness, our focus on food has given us a straightforward way of taking back control".
The story is told by one of IET’s founders Pam Warhurst and, in short but fascinating sections, co-founder Mary Clear, as well as with co-author Joanna Dobson. As a speaker, Pam is straightforward, passionate and practical, all qualities that come across clearly in these pages. ‘Incredible!’ isn’t just the story of Tormorden’s "veg-tification". It also contains recipes of things you can do with the potential produce of your High Street, growing tips, a model constitution, Mary Clear’s "interludes" with some of her reflections on her high points of the adventure so far, and even a chapter called "Raised Beds for Numpties".
What IET have achieved is inspiring enough. Many Transition groups have Incredible Edible projects, and the idea has spread around the world. But the authors aren’t happy to rest on their laurels. The book also covers what they see as coming next, as they open their Incredible Aquagarden in the local school, an aquaponics project, just one manifestation of how they see urban food growing’s potential to revive local economies and create work for people. As they put it, "the whole point of Incredible Edible Todmorden was to craft a vision for how the town could thrive in the twenty-first century". No wonder so many Transitioners feel at home with the idea.
I loved Incredible! It is passionate, inspiring, practical and has dirt under its fingernails. You’ll never look at lawns in the same way again. Pick yourself a copy, ignite the fire in your belly, and get planting.
‘Incredible! Plant Veg, Grow a Revolution’: Pam Warhurst & Joanna Dobson. 2014. 310 pages. Matador Publishing. Order here.
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