A New Food Economy for Bolton

We can help people look for work and train people up for jobs until the cows come home and indeed we do by giving millions of pounds of public money to employability training providers, but the fact of the matter is that there are no jobs, and the likely hood of there being an economic recovery to create jobs based on the current economic way of doing things is virtually none existent and isn’t going to happen.

We live in a world where there is now a far greater likely hood of stock market crashes and credit crunches, and in terms of their effect on our lives they are likely to be very severe this time round. But of course it doesn’t have to be this way, our towns and cities are full of ideas and potential, the potential to create our own local economies that work for us and are not based on perpetual debt cycles, economic inequality and the degradation of ecosystems and depletion of their resources.

Take Bolton for example, a once thriving industrial Northern town specialising in engineering and textile industries, nowadays like most other towns there is little in the way of industry and skilled employment. When British industry  was closed down and relocated abroad we lost a lot of skills as well as a lot of jobs. The work that replaced these industries such as customer service call centre work, commercial retail and warehouse work are low skilled and low paid, and a good deal of these positions are temporary or zero contract hours.

But Bolton is a town full of resourceful people, and full of resources depending on where you look. take for example all of the green land around Bolton, it is in abundance, there are fields, plots of land and woodlands doing nothing and lying idle all over Bolton, these plots and unused pieces of land could be part of the solution to our economic problems.

There is a desperate need to create a real local food movement in Bolton and everywhere else, and I am not talking here about quaint and expensive Sunday foody markets flogging purple Brussels sprouts for five pounds a bag. I am talking about generating local food enterprises run for the benefit of local communities, by local community members.

I had an interesting conversation with Neighbourhood Manager Tony Cottam about this during the summer whilst working on the ‘Get Growing Breightmet project’, we could find no reason why Bolton couldn’t become a new food growing capital for the Northwest, that generated quality horticultural employment and fresh organically grown local produce for people in the town and further afield. We continued this conversation by agreeing that if there was a will and a little collective action between different organisations and bodies in the town that to create this food economy wouldn’t cost a great deal of money to set up, and that it could have the potential to generate a lot of micro employment and income generation across Bolton, and our final agreement was that it was the right and ideal time to do it.

From our end of things as permaculture practitioners  it wouldn’t be difficult to convert much of this land into diverse and thriving food growing systems, to convert wooded areas for fruit and mushroom production, to grow perennial edible landscapes around our social housing, and to grow mixed fruit and seasonal crops in some of the large parcels of land that surround the town.



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