Todmorden, a 14,000-strong English small town close to Manchester, was first hit by an industrial slump in the 1970’s and then by a housing crash during the 2008 recession. Face with high unemployment and businesses in the area closing, three women created a gardening network (called Incredible Edible) that would ensure that all crops were created and used locally.
The idea is simple: every citizen plants and cares for a garden bed of crops or a backyard full of vegetables. According to the Guardian, “grieving families are encouraged to think productive - in one case leading to a remembrance garden of broccoli.” These beds are tended to by volunteers on their days off and perhaps most importantly by their children. When it comes to consumption, everyone shares, and public beds can be collected at any point. Todmorden has already been successful in creating cooperatives: even the café where the three founders met at was already built and run by some community members. But there are no communist, hippy or political roots in the gardens: these are simply citizens helping each other out in a larger agricultural project.
As the “sharing revolution” grows bigger, some tasks are being handed off to specialists. The recently introduced beehives will need professional beekeepers, but ensure everyone has access to honey.
Other communities are trying this communitarian technique, from neighboring Hebden Bridge to Freland, a small village in France. Foreign dignitaries and the United Kindom’s own Prince Charles have already visited the garden village and are bringing ideas home. Perhaps this revolution has only just begun!
Read here the full articles (sources):
"A Todmorden, on se sert gratuitement dans les potagers" (in French)
Published on Leparisien.fr by Vincent Mongaillard - May 2, 2012
"Free food, caring and sharing: new spirit of community in Yorkshire"
Published on Guardian.co.uk by Tracy McVeigh - May 6, 2012