By 2030, Totnes and District has become a shining light for vibrant health in the southwest. All of its indicators for health and wellbeing are improving, leading to experts from far a-field coming to the town to understand what has become known as ‘The Totnes Effect’. Some put it down to the integration of complementary medicine, especially herbalism, which has not only transformed the types of treatment for common ailments, but also the landscape around the town, which now has many farms which have diversified into herbs in order to supply demand.
Others put it down to the transformation in 2012, of the town’s schools into centres of excellence in intensive food production. This led to increased exercise for young people, healthier food in the school canteens, and has also led to hundreds of families taking the idea home from school, raised beds are now common place, and, when accompanied by the training in cooking what you have grown, has led to families being better exercised and fed.
Another school of thought puts it down to the impact of the Health and Wellbeing centres, the first of which opened in 2011, which prescribed for people suffering from stress, obesity and other related illnesses, time spent learning to garden and cooking. Thousands of people on the surgery’s lists took up the training.
The final argument goes that increased community cohesion has played a major role. The slowing down of life and people working more together and depending on each other more has had unexpected knock-on effects. It has been observed that there is a quantifiable connection between the amount of time spent caring for others, and one’s own wellbeing. Whatever the reason is, it is clear that the change in direction embarked on in 2010 has led to a population that is not only more healthy, but one that has much to teach the rest of the world.
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