Transition towns start with food

A few weeks ago I watched the film A Farm for the Future where Rebecca Hosking investigates how to transform her family’s farm in Devon into a low energy farm for the future. One of the answers she finds is based on permaculture, a permanent and high-yielding agricultural system that minimises land use which was first¬†developed in Australia in the 1970s. The film has been shown on the BBC and can be viewed through this link.

This was the second film evening to raise awareness about climate change and peak oil organised by the Transition Town Vallei group. Using open space methods, we collected ourselves in small groups afterwards to discuss topics of interest. One such topic was local food, a group which I joined. Not surprisingly perhaps, all nine of us already grow vegetables in allotment gardens. Equally unsurprising for Wageningen was the overrepresentation of ex-(tropical)forestry students and a strong interest in permaculture. It turned out that one of the participants had a longstanding idea to turn a piece of overgrown public green into an edible community forest. A very concrete idea for what may become a first Transition Town project.

Food is a starting point for most Transition Town initiatives it turns out. Food projects of other Transition Towns include fruit and nut tree-planting schemes; garden-share projects; restaurant-led projects to promote sustainable fishery; seed and plant swapping; awareness raising projects through local schools and allotment associations. Again hardly surprising, food appeals “as an exemplar of how basic needs can be liberated from oil dependency” (Bailey, Hopkins & Wilson in Geoforum in press p7)