In the beginning of the year I mentioned my desire to explore Locavore Freeganism– taking advantage of all the free, nourishing foods that grow in our neighborhoods and mostly go to waste. What I’ve discovered is that while I love the sentiment, there’s just something awkward about pulling a lemon off someone else’s tree.
Enter the Incredible Edible project, which I learned about through the Ted talk, How We Can Eat Our Landscapes. Speaker Pam Warhurst calls it “propaganda gardening” and the concept is a no-brainer: replace greenery in public spaces with edible fruits, herbs and veggies to be enjoyed by anyone and everyone. So obvious and effective, it’s kind of shocking that this isn’t the way towns operate already, right?
In Todmorden, England, the project originated out of seeking a way to help people find a to new way of living, see the space around them differently, and think about the resources they use differently.
More on the project can be found here, but the premise is utilizing volunteer community members, students– anyone with skills and time to donate– to initiate and maintain their local edible landscape.
Starting with a seed swap, they converted an empty lot into a community herb garden and replaced useless plants in front of public buildings with fruit trees and edible plants. In turn, the novelty of it all drew a new type of tourism–vegetable tourism–and for these visitors, the committee created exhibition gardens and a tourist path to encourage knowledge and conversation around public edible landscaping. With the government becoming interested in funding, they’re now partnering with high schools to teach agriculture, creating training labs, building fisheries and orchards– all in the name of investing in kindness to each other and to the environment.
Their motto? “If you eat, you’re in.”
The best part of the project is that it’s entirely replicable and I’d love to begin creating something similar to this in Los Angeles. If you work in a connected field or would be interested in getting something started, please contact me directly!
*On a related note, I saw this great article on how to eat good food on a tight budget — here, they tell you which foods offer the most nutritional bang for your buck, and even a printable PDF of fail-proof recipes to help out even the most novice of cooks.