Publish at May 12 2020 Updated September 29 2022

Eat your landscape, green your school, beautify and refresh your neighborhood: inspiring initiatives

Don't wait, start


The town of Todmorden, population 15,000, probably doesn't mean much to you. Located between Leeds and Manchester, it's a rather ordinary, gray, traditional English town but one that has been transformed by an activist gardening initiative.

Now its every space is occupied by fruit trees, vegetable plants, herbs and flowers. Parking lots, storefronts, public building facades, thoroughfares and even the particularly fertile cemeteries have been transformed into vegetable gardens to the point that tourists from all over the world come to see the urban transformation firsthand: vegetable tourism was born.

Don't think that this was done by itself, everyone put their hands in the ground and this is precisely the genius of Pamela Warhurst, who understood how food was a mobilizing subject, universal and that transcends all classes and cultures. 

Her humorous moto "If you eat, you're with us"  announced her strategy: to mobilize everyone around a better use of urban space, more enjoyable and friendly. His speech revolved around three plates: the community plate, the space we share, the educational plate, what we teach our children, and the business plate, how we spend our money with the businesses we support, all mobilized around food.  And the response was tremendous, as if everyone had gotten tired of waiting.

Her story is uplifting and inspiring, and has spawned Incredible Edible, a network of initiatives that aims for local, community-based food.  And as she so eloquently puts it, there's no need to wait for anyone, people are ready.

You don't have to look very far either, the greening movement is taking root everywhere. For example, just in Quebec, there are hundreds of inspiring initiatives and the situation is similar in many countries.

  • Ileau - Local interventions in environment and urban planning, federates initiatives in Montreal. 

  • Grame - Research and actions in planning and environment in Quebec, holds the Gramies of the Environment among other activities.

  • Sustainable Communities - Works at all scales, city, neighborhood, street, building and on most issues from food to transportation to waste management and greening.

  • A Tree for My Neighborhood works specifically on urban greening, tree by tree, preferably fruit.

  • Forest Garden is a private initiative that aims to create permaculture and urban forest gardens
  • The city of Montreal supports hundreds of citizen initiatives

  • Living in the City proposes to green neighborhoods one school at a timeHis guide to getting there is quite detailed and a good place to start.

Verdir-les-quartiers-one-school-at-a-time by Living in the City on Scribd

Bref, what Pam Warhurst, figured out in 2008 is now spreading far and wide. We are beginning to understand that going green not only brings aesthetic or environmental benefits, such as water retention, dust retention, heat reduction, carbon fixation but also economic benefits on the food side, travel reduction, social benefits, health benefits and more globally improving the pleasure of living. 

The real little organic factories that fit in a seed only need a little bit of soil and water to fill us with their benefits.

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