After all, the world’s population grow and our spaces continue to shrink, so it’s probably time to start rethinking the way we grow and consume food.
In the US alone, we have almost 50,000 square miles of land devoted to a single crop. And it’s not corn. It’s grass. While a perfectly manicured lawn might earn you points with your neighbors, it doesn’t do much else besides look pretty.
That’s why people like Pamela Warhurst are seeking to change that.
For more than a decade, Warhurst has pioneered a movement that originated in her hometown of Todmorden, England. Instead of populating the outdoor spaces in the town with grass and “prickly plants”, she started planting fruits and vegetables and herbs in their place. She called it Incredible Edible. Now, apples, pears, raspberries, beets and more grow in Todmorden citizens’ front yards, outside the hospital and police station and even at the cemetery. They even have an aquaponics garden at the local high school that is completely student-run.
And amazingly enough, it’s all free for the taking. If you feel like picking a pear while you walk to work, you can do that. Todmorden now looks more like a tropical oasis than a dreary British town. But Warhurst says it’s definitely not perfect. Sometimes, it’s wild and even ugly. And that’s what she thinks makes it special.
People travel from all over the world to come gander at Todmorden. In fact, Warhurst is credited with a phenomenon known as “vegetable tourism”. Of course, she’s fine with the visitors. After all, that’s how the idea has spread to more than 700 communities across the world, from America to Japan to New Zealand.
Incredible Edible is all about letting go of what we think our outdoor spaces should look like and turning them into something functional and delicious. In the future, maybe grass lawns will be nothing more than a distant memory and rooftop gardens will be the rule rather than the exception.
For more about the Incredible Edible initiative and how it works, check out Warhurst’s TED Talk. Maybe it’ll even inspire you to start a garden in your own yard.