The Onion Flower

Writer and Horticulturist

Book Review: Incredible! Plant Veg Grow a Revolution

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Incredible! Plant Veg Grow a Revolution by Joanna Dobson and Pam Warhurst. Leicestershire: UK, 2014. 238 pages.
Release date August 2014.
Reviewed by Sherry Lalonde
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Stories about Incredible Edible Todmorden have been showing up in my twitter feed, in some of the blogs I follow and in popular gardening literature for a few years now. It takes time for things to make their way across the pond but it seems to have finally arrived.
In 2008 a small group of people spearheaded by Pam Warhurst were looking for ways to make their market town of Todmorden in West Yorkshire, England more sustainable, inclusive and community-oriented. They came upon the idea of using local food as a central theme to unite as many people as they could reach out to.
The band set out and began planting food in prominent public spaces and encouraged passer-by to help themselves. They worked with the schools to help grow and supply their own food, set up apprenticeship programs with local farmers, planned food-related events, built raised beds on social housing estates and more. Incredible Edible worked diligently with national agencies and their local government and businesses but initially the grass-roots organization struggled with bureaucracy, funding and direction. It has now been running successfully for several years and the idea has spread to other cities in countries like Canada, New Zealand and France.
Although the book seems rather after-the-fact, the original initiative is constantly evolving and changing to stay relevant and a part of the everyday life of the community.There is no linear trajectory but instead the project continues to grow in an organic multi-directional way with new connections being made all the time.
For those looking for a step-by-step instruction guide to duplicating Todmorden’s success – this is not it. The authors advise tailoring your approach to the individual characteristics of your own town. The best advice they give is not to wait for permission but to start planting, growing and sharing food and worry about road blocks when they block your path, not before.
The earnestness comes across a little strongly at times but it serves to motivate those of us who want to do more but instead are waiting for someone else to take charge. Incredible! Plant Veg Grow a Revolution is an inspiring read that reminds you that small ideas can make a big difference.

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