One Incredible week with IETLast update: 27.06.13 First posted: 27.06.13 by Laura in Incredible spreadible
I first read about Incredible Edible Todmorden last year whilst looking for agricultural intern positions. Inspired by their ‘can do’ approach to both community building and resilience in food supply, I applied for one of the IET Incredible Apprenticeships. Unfortunately I didn’t get one, but I was still keen to visit Tod to see what I’d missed out on, so I hitch-hiked up from Worcester to volunteer with the project for a week.
Between them Steve (who oversees the Aquaponics project at the high school) and Mary (IET co-founder) arranged a week’s work for me to get stuck in with, visiting different parts of the project – putting up guttering and filling beds in the lovely new polytunnel at the school and weeding and planting at the Apothecary garden and on Pollination Street. I got in on an Incredible Tour with a group of ‘vegetable tourists’ from Hull,
picked a huge flower, weed and herb-filled salad for the midsummer picnic from the beds around the town (there was lettuce in there too!),
and helped out for a day at the Incredible Farm bagging salads and clearing beds. I even donned a bee-keepers suit and veil to check out the hives they have stationed there.
It was great to see the response of the locals to the beds in town. Whilst we were out planting Brussels sprouts, perilla and quinoa on Pollination Street,
I’d say at least three quarters of passers-by on that busy Friday market-day stopped to pass comment on what we were up to (especially to get the ID of the magnificent angelica plants).
As Mary says – it’s all about creating a conversation with people – about growing food, buying local, volunteering in the community. On several occasions I saw people working on other beds in town, or saw teachers and their students using the meadow space in the centre of town to have outside lessons. Mary said that quite a few of the folks at the midsummer picnic had not been to an IET event before – so the circle of followers is still growing, six years on.
Todmorden is a charming little town full of friendly folks, beautiful woods and park, a pretty canal and steeped in history too,
yet all the tourists I met there had come to check out Incredible Edible. And rightly so – as a piece of propaganda it works really well, and visitors leave with a smile on their face and a spark in their head to maybe make a corner of their community Incredible too.
There’s still a loooong way to go to get Todmorden self-sufficient in food, and a lot of lawns and verges remain, crying out for the IET treatment. But add up all the ‘Incredible’ spaces and the food they have produced around the UK and the rest of the world,
and you can’t deny the power of the IET message and the achievements of all the volunteers involved.
The warm hospitality that became typical during my stay started with the chap who gave me a sightseeing tour of the area for the last part of my hitch, to the lady at the cricket ground camp-site who invited me round to tea. Members of IET were kind enough to take me on a tour, invite me round for meals, to meetings, get me in on the Hebden Handmade Parade and even to put me up for the second half of my stay. A big THANK YOU goes to all, especially Steve, Mary, Nick and most of all Hilary! I hope to see you again one day.
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