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Food, Growing & Our Planet

ETN is about bringing more life in our gardens and our community spaces, through growing food for humans, for birds and for insects... and reclaiming those vital spaces that can be used to grow.

It is about reminding ourselves that growing food is accessible to all and that sharing our knowledge about growing food - and sharing the food itself! - is fun. 

Here's 5 great reasons to get involved.


1. ETN is Climate Action

Maybe you didn’t think Climate Change was also connected to the food we eat… or maybe you knew it all along. Climate change will have an effect on our food growing capacity (think droughts during the summer months) and therefore on our food security – but the converse is also true.

Our food consumption has a massive impact on climate change through land-use (significant contributors to deforestation) and the carbon footprint of the food we eat (food systems contribute 21% to 37% of global greenhouse gases).

Things to consider when you are planning your meals or shopping are

  • How low on the food chain is this? Low chain foods include plants, nuts, fruits, vegetables and grains.

  • Is it whole or processed? How much energy was used to produce it?

  • Is it grown organically? (no chemical use of herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers)

  • How far did it travel to get to the shop/table? And is it a fair trade product?

If you'd like to learn more on how to cut your food's carbon footprint go to

It’s up to us to be more responsible with what we consume in general… food-wise we should really stick with seasonal, local, and organic… all the things we promote with ETN

2. ETN helps biodiversity

As biodiversity is all the different kinds of life you’ll find in one area, we believe we have an opportunity, through ETN, to restore it in our urban areas, not just in our fields in the countryside. Growing more plants in towns and villages help to feed insects, including pollinators and of course, those insects feed our lovely birds and small mammals.  Where would we be without birdsong? 


Biodiversity is suffering: intensive agriculture and conventional farming have a detrimental effect on this species' richness through the use of synthetic chemical fertilisers, pesticides and other continual inputs.  Deforestation, land clearances and extensive irrigation to intensive agriculture are some of the land-use changes that have also had a devastating impact on biodiversity. 

See Cowspiracy Documentary for the shocking impacts of factory farming.  And the recent Seaspiracy Documentary for the shocking impacts of industrial fishing. Our stable diets matter a lot.

However, there are glimmers of hope on the horizon. The Farming for Nature initiative, a growing network in Ireland, encourages and supports farmers who are or wish to include nature in their farming practices, for all of us to enjoy better food while keeping Nature welfare in mind. The Bee Sanctuary of Ireland is Ireland's only wild bee sanctuary and has recently launched a meadows campaign, check it out and see why leaving food for bees is really vital to all of us! 

3. ETN helps food resilience, zero waste & circular economy

Food resilience or food Sovereignty means having enough local sources of food to sustain the community, even in times of stress like weather disruptions, or events like pandemics, that can impact on importing food. It means having secure stocks of a good range of locally grown food all year round, without depending on external imports. Check out for more on this topic.

Ok, we can’t grow pineapples or oranges, fair enough...but did you know that Ireland imported 72,000 tonnes of potatoes, 47,000 tonnes of onions, 29,000 tonnes of tomatoes, 23,000 tonnes of cabbage and 15,000 tonnes of lettuce in 2017? And that Bord Bia research has established that currently 70% of organic fruit and vegetables is imported?

ETN supports the sustainable development goal number 12 (sustainable consumption and production) by growing food in our villages and towns. By doing so we can educate ourselves, establish new priorities and reach the awareness needed to push for the bigger changes and switch from the current linear economy to a more considerate circular economy: an economic system aimed at eliminating waste, pollution and carbon emissions and the unsustainable use of resources.

Wouldn’t it be great if we had all we needed around us? And not just food.

4. ETN is a community action

In Todmorden, the first Edible Incredible Town, Chairperson Mary Clear said  “the brilliant thing about food is the membership”. “Everybody knows about food … every culture uses food to celebrate….it will reconnect people with each other, with the birds and the bees, with soil, with science,  global warming – all of those issues can be addressed through food.”  

At the heart of the Edible Towns Network is community and kindness and this is expressed through growing ‘free’ food in public places, available to anyone in the community.  Food growing is used as a vehicle to form a sense of community and reflect the diversity within these towns and villages.  

We believe that the Edible Towns Network will encourage individuals who have never done any gardening to try growing food and embolden those who already know how. It’s about ‘starting doing something new’ and, through our imagination, thinking about what we could be.  What our communities could be, what our businesses could be … how we live on this earth.  Knowing that many others around you are doing the same with the same purpose will give everyone the confidence and encouragement to go for the bigger changes that our world needs.  As one inhabitant of Todmorden said they use the Edible project to  “tumble forward to a better future.”  

For other inspirational local projects that are tumbling forward to a better future check out the Eco Village of Cloughjordan, or Transition towns like Kinsale and other Edible cities around the world. And if you had an hour to watch a very uplifting documentary, we recommend the one that inspired us all in WEN: Chasing Tomorrow 

5. ETN and you!

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African Proverb


  • COVID 19 reminded us of the importance of community, the importance of having good quality green areas in our local community and the importance of having access to good food. ​

  • During COVID we learned about how important it is to be able to meet up with neighbours and family. ​

  • Gardening is great as a form or exercise, great for your mind and eating locally grown chemical-free food is the best way to nourish your body.​

  • Growing as part of a community effort is satisfying and more importantly it is fun! All ages and backgrounds can get involved in growing so you get to share your knowledge with and also learn from others in the growing community. Who knows what friends you will make and what new skills you will learn


We believe that the philosophy in projects like ETN will bring a sense of responsibility towards our future, will inspire more community based projects that will encourage the creation of “jobs for the future”, where the wellbeing of the community is the priority.


We have many dreams that we feel are very achievable with a bit of forward thinking, like coops that will provide daily organic markets (fruit, veg, meats…local, seasonal, zero waste...); community mills and ovens that guarantee a safe and local production of breads and baked goods; and even community school canteens, where our children will finally get the proper time to eat and learn to socialise through food…. and feel equal, for real! One solution leads to another!


We see edible and eco projects grow and merge to create beautiful and sustainable Eco Counties, and yes, let’s aim high… how about an Eco Country?

What do you think? Do you see it too? What are your dreams for a happy future?

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