One Minute Review: Incredible! by Pam Warhurst & Joanna Dobson

December 3, 2014

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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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Rob Hopkins

Rob Hopkins is a cofounder of Transition Town Totnes and Transition Network, and the author of The Transition Handbook, The Transition Companion, The Power of Just Doing Stuff, 21 Stories of Transition and most recently, From What Is to What If: unleashing the power of imagination to create the future we want. He presents the podcast series ‘From What If to What Next‘ which invites listeners to send in their “what if” questions and then explores how to make them a reality.  In 2012, he was voted one of the Independent’s top 100 environmentalists and was on Nesta and the Observer’s list of Britain’s 50 New Radicals. Hopkins has also appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Four Thought and A Good Read, in the French film phenomenon Demain and its sequel Apres Demain, and has spoken at TEDGlobal and three TEDx events. An Ashoka Fellow, Hopkins also holds a doctorate degree from the University of Plymouth and has received two honorary doctorates from the University of the West of England and the University of Namur. He is a keen gardener, a founder of New Lion Brewery in Totnes, and a director of Totnes Community Development Society, the group behind Atmos Totnes, an ambitious, community-led development project. He blogs at and and tweets at @robintransition.

Tags: building resilient food systems, Incredible Edible Todmorden