There’s a convention at book launches that the author signs copies bought by the guests. Something strange happened to that convention on Saturday at the launch of the story of Incredible Edible Todmorden.
Guests started asking for signatures not only from the authors, but from others who’d appeared in the book – friends and co-workers who’d helped to make Incredible Edible Todmorden happen over the last six years and who’d played their part in the worldwide movement it has now become.
Of course they asked for signatures from Pam Warhurst, Incredible Edible’s co-founder, who is the main ‘voice’ of Incredible! Plant Veg, Grow a Revolution, and from Joanna Dobson, who spent the last two years researching and writing the book. But there were many others whose signatures were as valid, because they too had a part in making the book happen.
As Joanna said at the launch, this is a book that was written in community. Yes, there were weeks and months of slaving away alone over a computer – but the heart of the story is the host of people who have made Incredible Edible what it has become, and the relationships between them. It’s what Mary Clear, another of Incredible Edible’s co-founders, always describes as ‘kindness’.
‘Kindness’ is far more than being nice to people. It involves a deliberate shift of perspective from one that focuses on the individual to thinking about neighbours and community, and using food and sharing as a way of building bridges and rethinking the connections between neighbourhoods, learning and business.
The whole process of creating the book has reflected that. The people involved in Incredible Edible Todmorden have trusted us to record and reflect their story. When commercial publishers wouldn’t take the risk of publishing it, we crowdfunded the resources – and in doing so drew on a well of kindness from supporters around the world, many of whom were astonishingly generous.
The launch itself was a community event, with a tour of the town led by Estelle Brown, a visit to Incredible Farm hosted by Nick Green and Helena Cook, and a sumptuous locally-sourced spread produced by Incredible Edible’s Hilary Wilson. And nobody was too proud to don an apron and help serve food or wash dishes, authors included.
Pam Warhurst has described Incredible Edible as a ‘forever project’. On Saturday she said how important it was that the story was told in this form. It brings together the thinking as well as the experience of the story that has unfolded so far, and uses that story to set an agenda for the future that enables us to re-imagine our food systems and how they affect the towns and cities we live in.
As the Incredible Edible Network expands across the UK and ‘Incroyables Comestibles’ groups flourish in France, with many more starting across the world, we hope the story of the original Incredible Edible will continue to inform and inspire others. We’re proud to have played a part in it, and look forward to what comes next.
• You can order a copy of the book online, or via selected outlets in Todmorden including the Bear Café and the Tourist Information Centre, at Gordon Rigg in Walsden and the Bookcase in Hebden Bridge.