Evaluating the Impacts of the 'Incredible Edible' Social Movement in Todmorden

Since 2007, Todmorden in West Yorkshire has been the focal point of Incredible Edible (IE), the pioneering social movement which uses local food to enrich communities.

Through creating edible landscapes, passing on skills and supporting local food businesses, the IE model is widely perceived to have played a key role in transforming the town both through economic uplift and by improving everyday living environments.

Its success has also stimulated the establishment of over 100 other IE groups across the UK and overseas. This has been achieved not with the help of existing democratic or private structures, but by volunteers living within the town.

In 2016, Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Central Lancashire were commissioned by Incredible Edible Ltd to undertake research to understand the effectiveness of the IE model, as developed and applied in Todmorden, which is based around a conceptual metaphor of three spinning plates – community, business and learning.


This research project, undertaken within the auspices of the Sustainable Food North West Research Collaboration (SusFoodNW), had the following aims:

  • To evaluate the social, economic and environmental impacts of the IE model as it has been applied in Todmorden, in relation to community, learning and business ‘plates’.
  • To assess the wider potential of the IE model as a community-led framework for improving social, economic and environmental wellbeing.
  • To test, refine and disseminate a practical self-evaluation framework for the benefit of other IE communities.

Lead Investigators

Dr Adrian Morley [Manchester Metropolitan University] 

Project Staff

Dr Alan Farrier

Funding Organisations

Ashden Trust, £20,000; NISA making a Difference Locally Fund, £20,000

Public Outputs

IET Evaluation Summary Report

IET Evaluation Full Report

Farrier, A., Dooris, M. and Morley, A. (2019) Catalysing change? A critical exploration of the impacts of a community food initiative on people, place and prosperity. Landscape and Urban Planning, 192: 103663.