Can Totnes feed itself?

time-local-food-k-001Following on from yesterday’s post about the food-mapping project being piloted in Haslemere, it is interesting to see Rob Hopkins’ blog today ask, “Can Totnes feed itself?”

A town called Todmorden in Yorkshire is already working to achieve this by 2018.

And Simon Fairlie’s work suggests that Britain as a whole could be self-sustainable in food, if we used different farming methods and ate a slightly different (healthier!) diet.

Rob Hopkins is now editing the food section of his town’s “Energy Descent Plan” — a plan for how the town as a whole could continue to sustain a high standard of living as cheap oil runs out.

Transition Stroud have already written their plan and concluded that for their population of 110,000 people, “Opportunities exist to create more join-up between producers and consumers, making use of two local centres of excellence at the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester and Hartpury College (University of theWest of England) near Gloucester.”

french_marketTotnes has Riverford Organics on its doorstep, so I can’t believe that people in Totnes will starve — unless all that produce is shipped away to feed people in London, Bristol, or Portsmouth.

But what about here in Farnham? Could we feed ourselves if supplies of flown-in produce dried up? Take a look next time you go shopping — green beans from Kenya and strawberries from Israel.

With over 150 people now on the waiting list for an allotment, it seems there are a lot of people in Farnham who would like to give it a go. And different forms of Community Supported Agriculture enable people to grow more food, with less work, than doing it by themselves — the Farnham Local Food Initiative has already shown what can be done locally with one approach.

Apparently land between Farnham and Aldershot used to feed the British Army, so the opportunity is undoubtedly there.

Does anybody know where food used to be grown around Farnham before the Second World War?

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3 Responses to Can Totnes feed itself?

  1. harriet says:

    Hi Finn
    It was in Spreakley – they sold vegetables and soft fruit, and eggs from the hens and ducks they kept. The orchards were close to Spreakley Common – it was piece rate and the best pickers were a couple of women from Dockenfield – they earned at least three times what the rest of us did! I also used to pick strawberries in Thursley, and plucked turkeys somewhere near Dockenfield (they used to wring their necks in the yard and bring ’em in still flapping – I’ve never eaten turkey since…). there was a lot of small growing and keeping going on.

  2. harriet says:

    I picked apples in Frensham at the end of the 1970’s – and a neighbour had a market garden with vegetables, fruit, and hens. They delivered to houses around Churt as I remember.

    • finnjackson says:

      Hi Harriet,
      That sounds interesting. Was the market garden in Frensham also? Where abouts was it in the village?

      I heard that the Maltings car park used to be allotments, so I suppose there’s good soil underneath still.


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