English Town To Reach Food Self-Sufficiency

By: Michele Wolfson

Is a self-sufficient town possible? An organization called Incredible Edible certainly thinks so. Since founding the group three years ago, Mary Clear and Pam Warhurst have been working toward creating sustainable communities. They do so, in part, by having volunteers of the organization go around to towns and plant fruits and vegetables where fresh, uncontaminated soil can be found. The crops are then adopted by members of the different communities who, maintain, continue to plant and eventually benefit from the growing produce.

The fact that this is an entirely volunteer based operation makes it seem like its survival rate may be low, however the people of Todmorden the town in West Yorkshire, England, where Mary and Pam live, are proving that it is possible.  There are beds planted throughout the Todmorden, 70 to be exact, where locals can come pick produce completely free.

In order for the program to work, a certain amount of pride and trust has to go into growing and picking the food. When asked, "What's to stop me [from] nabbing all the apples?" Mary responded by saying, "We trust people. We truly believe - we are witness to it - that people are decent." So far the people of the Todmorden have exceeded her expectations.

They continue to volunteer their time to maintain the gardens and the issue of hoarding produce has not come up. Things are definitely working out. The two women hope to make the town the first in the country to be completely self-sufficient in food.

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