polis: a collective blog about cities worldwide

Edible Landscapes

by Anna Fogel

“Can you find a unifying language that cuts across age and income and culture? … Yes, and the language would appear to be food.” – Pam Warhurst

How We Can Eat Our Landscapes,” a TED Talk by Pam Warhurst of Incredible Edible Todmorden, illuminates the process behind a distributed and replicable movement to develop local food production on unused land. Warhurst discusses the organization’s inception and evolution, explaining that its purpose is to not only plant more fruits, vegetables and herbs around town, but to encourage neighbors to think about natural resources differently and interact with their surroundings in new ways.

Warhurst describes the organization’s work as centered around three spheres: community building, education and local business. They engage schools in the growing process, and artists from around town help create signs to inform residents and visitors about the program. They also organize “propaganda gardening” initiatives such as planting corn in front of a police station or growing herbs in parking lots. A group of local businesses set up an Incredible Edible Green Route, which Warhurst calls “vegetable tourism,” helping to connect growers with customers.

Local farmers have seen a marked increase in sales, as the movement has sparked a lasting interest in local food and attracted visitors from around the world. It is now spreading through the United Kingdom and parts of the United States, Japan and New Zealand. Incredible Edible Todmorden emphasizes replicability, providing a toolkit for other communities and hosting visitors interested in learning more about their operations. They hope the ideas can take root and be modified in other places to offer practical alternatives to global agribusiness.

+ share