I have been chipping away for a few weeks now at getting this veggie garden thing together. As you can see from my work diary on the garden page section of the Bottom Line Project site, I have been averaging about 2 1/2 - 3 hours each time I get out and do something. This has left me with a lot of head space to be thinking up as many excuses as I can find to justify why I should stop doing this. Things like... This is stupid, a waste of time, its not going to be cheap financially or time wise, or, I will be surprised if I break even financially, my back hurts, I have dirt under my finger nails (not good for a guitar player), I detest stepping in dog pooh, I have started way to late in the season and so many more that I won’t mention.
Probably the biggest issue I have so early on in the process is that with only just a few weeks of groceries bought and recorded in our spread sheets, I can see that the percentage that makes up the veggie portion of our spend is floating around 12 percent. Now keep in mind that part of the reason we started this project was to not only learn about our eating and spending habits, but it was to try and make some sense of the issues around the poverty situations many families are facing here in New Zealand. I can see already that if my garden is successful, its impact financially will be very small. One of the frequent comments made in some of the social media sites we visit suggested that these people who were in so called poverty should get off their lazy backsides and do something productive like... plant a veggie garden. By doing so they would supposedly save money and eat well... I say BOLLOCKS!
I have these wonderful childhood memories of my mothers veggie garden in the bottom corner of the family property. I remember eating fresh vege either straight from the garden or for dinner, and like most kids being picky about it as well. With my mum now in her 70’s, she still finds time to tend her quite large landscape garden, but when I thought about it, she has not had a vegetable patch for years now. When I called her last week for our fortnightly phone catchup, I mentioned the Bottom Line Project, the new veggie garden and the so called reasoning that people who are struggling financially should just go plant a veggie garden as a way of saving money and easing their overall situation, her first response was NOOOOO.
During our discussion, mum confirmed what I was already thinking, that there is a very long list of things you need, like sunlight, water, space, shelter, compost, materials, equipment, knowledge, skills and time in varying amounts to make a successful veggie garden work. If you want more than just a token veggie patch, one that makes a difference to a struggling families budget, then you are also more than likely going to need spare cash (quite a serious amount for those who find themselves in a poverty type situation) in order to get results. We are very fortunate in that we have most of the ingredients either in place or know where to get them from. However, for those folks who find themselves in the unfortunate situation to be classed as New Zealand’s poorest, well, they haven’t got a hope in hell.
I actually like eating veggies. In fact our entire family does really well with getting our share of both fruit and vege into our diets. We hardly ever have any of those epic dinner table battles of the will... “Eat your broccoli or there is no computer for the week.” Getting stuck in and having a go at growing my own veggie garden is about seeing if it is possible to find a way to make a difference, somehow, someway, for someone. I am committed to that task. However I significantly doubt that I will find anything of benefit for those that are financially poor. I am really looking forward to eating the fruits of my labour, but more than that, if its possible, I would really love to be able to eat my words.