On 19th July The Incredible Aqua Garden held a Big Lunch on Longfield Grove in Todmorden. This had been organised by Alison Jones who is ‘Incredible Edible Food Inspirer’ at The Aqua Garden. For those in the dark the Aqua Garden is situated at Todmorden High School and is a sustainable growing project that produces food and offers training in several aspects of vegetable production. I would strongly recommend a visit.
Myself and Lee, a volunteer who attends Calderdale Recovery Steps in Todmorden, had agreed to help out and we met at the Town Hall on an unseasonably wet and windy July morning. We made our way up to Longfield only to find the place deserted and wondering if it had been cancelled because of the weather. Our status as strangers drew attention to us however and a few people came out and inquired as to why we were there.
“Are you ‘The Bouncy Castle Men’?
That mental image has stayed with me.
We explained that we were sorry to disappoint them but were mere volunteers. They were happy with that though and within a minute gazebos, tables and chairs were appearing from nowhere. We set about getting things assembled and before you could say organic beetroot half the street was out and this shit was going down. A guy was setting up his decks and the whole place was a hive of activity. Alison turned up soon after with a car, a small one, packed full of food and equipment. Bit like the TARDIS. We got a few more tables set up and started preparing food and setting out drinks etc. There was some discontent about the absence of ‘The Bouncy Castle Men’ but a phone call later an almost tangible wave of relief rolled down Longfield Grove.
By lunchtime there was a large barbecue banging out burgers and sausages and Alison had given a healthy cooking demonstration which resulted in a gorgeous veg chilli. There was plenty of healthy food on offer and people were tucking in and making merry. The bouncy castle was going down a storm, which is ironic as we were worried it might blow away in one. The tunes were getting people on their feet and there was a really good atmosphere.
Colin had arrived at lunchtime and soon got into the swing of things. There was the usual mirth and the locals took to us pretty well although I think they thought we were a bit strange, nothing new there. I did get taken out by a flying gazebo at one point whilst eating a bowl of chilli. This seemed to amuse a few people. Lee had the longest kick about in history with a young lad who then amused everybody by throwing some shapes out to ‘Gangnam Style’. There was a Polish family who cooked and brought out some food and it was good to see everyone getting on and having a great time together. Like most estates they have had problems with anti-social behaviour etc. but none of that was evident and there was a genuine, warm and friendly feel to it.
Colin, Lee and myself chatted to residents and had a good old chortle with them. It was a great success for Alison and we were glad to have been able to contribute a little to it. It was also good to meet some residents of Todmorden, give a positive image of ourselves and show some visible recovery. I think Alison was highly amused by the three of us but for some reason was under the impression that Colin was called Kevin. Brilliant!
For more information about Incredible Aqua Garden visit their website: