Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Do you dig gardens?

I don’t, not particularly, but I saw this letter in today’s Manchester Evening News, and I really dig this guy’s way of thinking:

Help me transform neglected gardens into a community resource

I understand that there is a huge waiting list for allotment space all over the country and there is an awful lot of garden space attached to homes that is not being used.

I was recently taken seriously ill and thought an allotment might be a good way to help build my strength again and give me something to do between hospital appointments.

However, I found that there are over 100,000 people on allotment waiting lists all over the country and in my area the waiting time is about two years.

Although I am not able to work in full-time employment I am able to devote some of my time at home to organising. So I decided to try to organise a national garden-sharing scheme.

I would like to bring as many would be gardeners together with as many garden owners as possible.

Thousands of properties have gardens but many are too large for the home occupiers to maintain themselves or they are simply not interested in gardening.

As payment for use of the garden, the gardener would provide a range of fruit and vegetables free to the occupiers throughout the year.

Unsightly and overgrown gardens will be given a new lease of life and much needed garden space will be made available for people who are not fortunate enough to have gardens of their own.

The scheme would closely vet all gardeners, provide a written agreement between the gardener and the occupier, provide free food to the occupier throughout the year and as a community scheme would increase land usage, community involvement, local education and much more.

Surplus produce could be sold to schools, colleges and nurseries for their kitchens. The rest could be donated to and used by local community and church organisations for distribution to needy groups or sold to local retailers or on local markets.

I know the idea is not particularly new and organising a national campaign is not easy. But if anyone wants to contact me, I can explain more. I don’t yet have a website but I am trying to find someone to produce one for me, so in the meantime I can be contacted by email only.

Steve Garratt
(homegrownuk[at], (skgarratt[at]


I don’t know what Mr Garratt’s chances of success are, but it seems like a good idea to me. If he manages to set up the scheme, not only would it increase food production, but it would have all kinds of other benefits, some of which he points out in his letter. For instance, it’s a deterrent against burglars if you’ve got someone working your garden while you’re out, and I also imagine that the scheme would appeal to housebound people who want some company. I’ve no idea what his politics are, but this is exactly the sort of bottom-up community-based initiative which libertarians tend to be in favour of – one guy has a good idea, persuades others to join him, and they co-operate so as to help themselves, each other and society in general. Good old basic capitalism, in other words. Note that at no time does Mr Garratt suggest that there should be any government involvement, whether national or local. He does mention that gardeners would be vetted, which I assume would mean a CRB check, but that’s it. No need for local councils or any other part of the State to be involved. Just free people, acting on their own initiative. It’s not something I’ll get involved in myself, but I wish Mr Garratt well. The fact that our society still has people like him in it proves that we’re not finished yet.

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