Thursday 4 September 2014

A few thoughts on: Incredible! (Plant veg, grow a revolution)

Incredible! book coverThis isn't a review per se as I don't have the energy to write a proper review. But having read the book and being incredibly (ha!) inspired by it, I wanted add a few words to my Blog about it to help encourage more people to read it and take action.

I was one of the many supporters/funders of the Kickstarter project that results in this book: Incredible! Plant Veg, Grow a Revolution. Like many in the permaculture/transition/grow your own movement, I had heard about Incredible Edible Todmorden and it's amazing success in growing a local food movement and community in a once down-at-heel Yorkshire mill town. I wanted to support the project as it is both a positive story that needed sharing, and as an example of a sustainable way forward that can bring environmental, social and economical justice as we meet the challenges of climate change and peak oil.

The main part of the book tells the story, and at the end offers suggestions on how other people and their villages and towns can also begin the same journey.

The issues around climate change can be so huge and overwhelming that it's hard to feel you can do much about it. So instead, why not focus on something more tangible that we can do? What unites us? And this is the key idea in the book. Incredible Edible Todmorden wasn't just about a growing local food. It was that food is a 'common language' that unites us all; we all need to eat.

Starting in 2007 with 'propaganda planting' (what a great term!), vegetables were put in planters and signs were added telling people to 'help yourself'. This simple act led to local schools, businesses and council to get involved and get growing. It led to an improvement in school grades for students, increased customers for local businesses, a larger proportion of food grown and eaten locally, and to a wonderful sense of pride and community. It meant that when Todmorden was hit by severe floods in 2012, the town by this point had developed enough resilience that it was better able to respond to the needs of devastated residents.

Incredible! is well written. The authors know how to tell a story, to make it engaging and exciting, but also get salient points across at the same time. One word sums up this book: inspiring. Add Incredible! to your must read list.

A word of warning. Don't read the book just before going to sleep. I found that it made me feel so positive and got so many ideas whirring around in my head, that getting off to sleep was quite difficult!

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P.S. I have to add my favourite quote from the the book. One project was described as "proceeding with the haste of a tortoise on tranquillisers" (p. 212). Haven't we all been there?!