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“Please Pick Me” - How Incredible Edible Todmorden is repurposing the commons for open source food and agrobiodiversity

Paull, John (2013) “Please Pick Me” - How Incredible Edible Todmorden is repurposing the commons for open source food and agrobiodiversity. In: Franzo, Jessica; Hunter, Danny; Borelli, Teresa and Mattei, Federico (Eds.) Diversifying Foods and Diets: Using Agricultural Biodiversity to Improve Nutrition and Health. Biodiversity for Food and Nutrition Project. Earthscan, Routledge, Oxford, chapter 10, pp. 336-345.

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Online at: http://www.b4fn.org/fileadmin/B4FN_Docs/documents/Diversity_for_Food_and_Diets/CS10_Paull.pdf

Summary

The remarkable project that is Incredible Edible Todmorden (IET) raises the question of food self-sufficiency for Todmorden - and by extension, for the rest of Britain. In March 2008 a public meeting was held in Todmorden, an English village in West Yorkshire (north west England). The topic was food - and the premise was “we need to talk”. That meeting attracted about sixty attendees, it was a local response to the growing awareness that Britain needs to have a conversation about food. It was a meeting against the tide of the Americanisation of the British diet with fizz and fat, of the Tescoisation of food retailing, of the dissociation of food from its agricultural and geographic provenance, as well as of a centuries-late response to the offshoring of British agrobiodiversity and of food production. From that meeting, Incredible Edible Todmorden was born. The village of 17,000 inhabitants was scoured for land and space that could be repurposed for food growing. Permission gardens and guerrilla gardens appeared around town planted out with cabbage and carrots, rhubarb and radishes, chard and chives. These gardens are ‘propaganda gardens’ - their very presence, publicly and prominently placed as they are, is designed to precipitate public and private discourse on the subject of food. They serve as ‘Trojan horses’ to smuggle food issues into public awareness. A message on IET boards reads: “Go on, take some. It’s all free”. The concept of open source food, of picking and eating something that someone else had planted and nurtured took some time to catch on, and it represents a cultural change in Todmorden. Informative signage presents pictures and names of planted produce, and suggests when it is ready to pick and how it may be cooked. The novelty of IET’s produce is that this is help-yourself food where passers-by are invited and encouraged to pick this fresh local produce. The local and immediate outcome of IET is the transformation of the commons with edible townscaping. IET has raised the profile of food in general and local food in particular. There are at least seven lessons that can be drawn from the successes of the IET project. These lessons can be characterised as: champions; actions; visibility; engagement; media & message; replication; and contagion.


EPrint Type:Book chapter
Subjects: Farming Systems > Social aspects
Food systems > Community development > Networks and ownership
Values, standards and certification > Consumer issues
Knowledge management > Education, extension and communication
Research affiliation: Australia
Australia > University of Tasmania
UK
UK > Univ. Oxford
ISBN:978-1-84971-456-3
Related Links:http://orgprints.org/19523/1/Paull2011TodmordenFM.pdf
Deposited By: Paull, Dr John
ID Code:24956
Deposited On:13 Jan 2014 13:37
Last Modified:13 Jan 2014 13:37
Document Language:English
Status:Published
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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