Incredible Edible Todmorden

Todmorden is a market town in West Yorkshire with a vision for its future as a town that cares about its food and environment.  It aims to increase the amount of local food grown and eaten in the town and has developed into a town-wide initiative supported by local people, businesses, farmers, schools, health services, the probation service and the local authority. Leeks, broccoli and cabbages grow side by side with ornamental plants and flowers in public flower beds and planters. Herb planters line the railway stations platforms and signs encourage commuters to help themselves. A herb garden has been established along the main road and a community orchard which includes over 200 fruit trees and bushes has been planted on public land in the town centre.

The project has begun to attract public landowners, Northern Rail has donated land for vegetable plots, the council has allocated land for a community orchard and funding for 500 fruit trees and berry bushes has been granted. The local church has collaborated with children from the local primary school to cultivate raised beds in the cemetery. All schools in Todmorden have also planted up a growing boat, using disused pleasure boats, to grow vegetables in schools. Ferney Lee primary has a small orchard and 26 raised beds for community use. The local secondary school has invested in two commercial size poly tunnels and has integrated growing into the curriculum; they are currently applying for specialist status for agriculture and land-based industries. At the back of the high school dedicated workers look after an orchard and bee hives.

The local health centre is transforming their flowerbeds into allotments so that patients with long term mental health problems can participate in gardening as part of their treatment. The health centre also operates a ‘pick your own’ scheme for local people. Pennine Housing, the local registered social landlord, provides tenants with land to grow food and offer gardening packs, including plants, seeds and grow sacks to encourage tenants to grow their own. Local cafés are starting to supply local produce and market stalls are now advertising their local produce. There are also plans to start a local eggs coop to be launched in spring 2009.

For more information about transformation of Todmorden.

More photos by award winning photographer Michal Honkys.