The Incredible Farm Community Benefit Society

Nick Green describes the local permaculture farm and learning opportunities provided by the Incredible Farm Community Benefit Society.

What prompted the Incredible Edible movement?

Here in Todmorden, in 2008, frustrated by lack of action on climate change, food security and lifestyles, we started a movement 'about food.' We called it “Incredible Edible”. Within 2 years it went global.

Why did you start the Incredible Farm Community Benefit Society?

We had failed to persuade farmers that crop and veg growing in our harsh Pennine climate is a good idea, so there was a need to give it a go ourselves. Incredible Farm was started as a progression into serious food production.

What is the Incredible Farm?

10 years on we have a 15 acre farm at Lumbutts village 2 miles from Todmorden. It is in a beauty spot with diverse habitats adjacent to conservation sites for rare birds and is insect rich.

We grow salad and veg in a huge custom built greenhouse, keep a nano herd of grass fed dairy cows for milk, cheese, meat and soil fertility, have planted a 500 fruit tree forest garden, keep poultry, teach and take volunteers. The farm is totally off grid and self-sufficient in electricity and water. We are expanding our veg growing onto more fertile land nearby.

How does your work help mitigate against climate change?

Our permaculture growing methods help to retain carbon in the soil and avoids the need for fertilisers based on climate damaging fossil fuels. Producing food locally avoids the greenhouse gas emissions which are associated with transport and packaging.

What are the aims of the Incredible Farm?

Our aims are to re discover the skills of sustainable farming and pass them on. This involves lots of experiments to find out what works and what does not, what is potentially  commercial, and what is a hobby.

How do your commercial farming activities help local people develop their careers?

In 2010 we sold £10,000 worth of veg at wholesale prices, using permaculture methods and no chemicals, we hope to double that in 2021. The commercial potential of some work has been used to build land based careers. Now we do this in collaboration with Todmorden Learning Centre.

How important is teaching to Incredible Farm?

The teaching is core to what we do, inspiring children to love the natural world generates the environmental guardians of the future.  We have four groups of children per week on the farm in normal times, this is a growth area. We also run courses for adults.

We also earn around half our income from teaching. We use grant income for infrastructure development,  we claim no farm subsidies.

What are the mutual benefits of working on the farm for your volunteers?

Volunteers are also very important to the life of the farm. We believe access to enjoyable physical work on the land is of great benefit. For example, close contact with the elemental detail, the flora, fauna, topography, water, sun, make the landscape come alive and become meaningful.

What recent changes mean your work is more important than ever?

Covid-19 and Brexit has given impetus to ‘Local’, people are understanding the value of what is close to them like never before, this is reflected in veg sales and interest from volunteers.