Book Review

Local Food

How to Make it Happen in your Community

Tamzin Pinkerton and Rob Hopkins – Transition Books – Green Books, 2009

This latest ‘Transition Book’ is well up to the standard of previous ones. It ends with a 21-page Resouces section under 30 headings, listed alphabetically, and each divided into ‘Books’, ‘Organisations’ and ‘Websites’.

It achieves its aim of being ‘an inspiring and practical guide to get you under way in the most focused and effective way’, with its wealth of examples, case-histories and advice.
Mostly it uses examples from the UK, but includes also some others from around the world.

Rob Hopkins is a teacher of permaculture, the author of the first ‘Transition Book’ and contributor to the second, while Tamzin Pinkerton has a background in Social Anthropology and Human Rights, but is concerned about the importance of organic, local food. Both are aware of the dilemma of the frequent need to choose between ‘organic’ or ‘local’ (and how far away can be ‘local’?), when so often their procurement cannot be combined.

While advocating adoption of the principles of permaculture where appropriate, this is not a dominant theme.

While linked to the ‘Transition’ movement and referring to the earlier books and reporting examples from this movement, this book covers a very wide range of aims and initiatives concerned with local food – growing, sourcing, distributing and, especially, the importance of it both for its potential community-building effects and in anticipation of the impending descent from the Peak of the ‘Oil age’.

Following the Foreword and Introduction, its first chapter generalizes its theme as ‘The local food movement’. The each of its next 15 chapters explores an aspect of its subject, with an introductory essay followed by two or three examples written by activists who started, lead or participate in the kind of project the chapter covers, and ending with a number of ‘Tips’ for people wanting to engage in similar action, and reference to the relevant page of ‘resources’.

Topics covered include home garden growing and garden-shares, community gardens and allotments, CSA and farmers’ markets, school gardens, events, guides and directories – etc.
The Transition Network’s Food Strategy being developed is working with the Soil Association, and linking with the CPRE, Sustain, the Permaculture Association, Garden Organic, and several other organizations.

The book should be a valuable source of inspiration and guidance for both novices and those wishing to expand their activity into relates areas – or simply to seek funding or other assistance.

-- Brian Leslie