Skip to main content

Some Total Monsters Literally Salt the Earth of a Garden Used to Feed Those in Need

A screenshot of a video of a blonde woman crying overlaid on a picture of dirt.

Carly Burd, a disabled woman who has both MS and Lupus, responded to the UK’s cost of living crisis by turning her garden into an allotment dedicated to food production. Through a combination of produce grown and donated staples like pasta and rice, Burd and her volunteers have been able to feed 1613 people so far.

Then some absolute monsters destroyed her garden, killing the crops and literally salting the earth to keep anything else from being grown there.

Burd appeared on her TikTok page, usually used for raising awareness about the garden and the help it offers the local community, to show people the damage that had been done. Absolutely distraught, she panned the camera around, revealing the trails of salt visible on top of the soil, before demanding “how could you do that?” and promising that this setback isn’t going to stop her from feeding people in need.

Fortunately, many people have seen and responded to Burd’s TikTok in a way that will hopefully get the project back on its feet. Farmers and experienced gardeners from both the US and the UK saw her TikTok and responded with advice on different ways she can fix the soil in the garden, and possibly even continue using it to feed people in the process. Locally, on-the-ground volunteers have shown up and helped to dig out the contaminated topsoil, which will make the process of rejuvenating it a lot easier. Finally, the project’s GoFundMe (A Meal on Me) has received enough donations that they should be able to buy whatever they need to repair the damage and do some additional good as well. Burd’s story has a mostly happy ending and that’s a good thing, but the fact that this happened at all exposes deeper problems with British society and the reaction to the cost of living crisis.

According to Burd, the amount of damage done would have required around 5kg (about 11 pounds) of salt. This wasn’t a random, impulsive act—this was a deliberate, planned action by someone who knew what salt would do to the garden and wanted to make that happen. In the speculation on who would do something like this a lot of commenters went straight to accusing the local council or the government, and while it’s extremely unlikely that they were directly involved, the rhetoric that leads to this kind of classist assault comes directly from the Tory propaganda machine.

The Tories have long been the party of hate and systemic inequality, relying on a strategy of singling out marginalized groups as scapegoats and convincing the white working class to blame them (instead of ruinous Tory policy) for everything that goes wrong while they’re in charge. This hasn’t stopped even as the target de jour shifts with whatever they need to justify that day, and the decades of Austerity have taken the standard Tory rhetoric about “scroungers” on benefits up to a dangerously incendiary point. While there are still plenty of people ready and willing to help those in need, a disturbingly large and growing group sees everyone on universal credit, everyone using food banks, everyone unable to swim in our rapidly sinking economy as lazy parasites. The sheer hatred directed at poor people trying to survive should be alarming to everyone, but far too many are still happy to blame them (and immigrants, and refugees, and the list goes on) for the UK’s economic struggles instead of Brexit, corporate tax cuts, and the relentless profiteering that went on during earlier phases of the pandemic.

We should all be a lot more worried about this than we are.

Burd has told the Independent that if the soil proves unfixable she intends to turn that area into a community social space for the elderly, as well as a communal kitchen where people of different ethnic backgrounds can take turns producing food. It won’t mean giving up on growing food either, they’ll just have to move that part of the project elsewhere. Her work shouldn’t be necessary—a disabled woman, who couldn’t even afford to heat her own home during the past winter, shouldn’t have had to take on the work of feeding others left behind by this government, but she has. The fact that this work was destroyed at all is alarming, but hopefully, the reaction will keep it from happening again.

(featured image: screencaps, TikTok)

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow The Mary Sue:

Siobhan Ball (she/her) is a contributing writer covering news, queer stuff, politics and Star Wars. A former historian and archivist, she made her first forays into journalism by writing a number of queer history articles c. 2016 and things spiralled from there. When she's not working she's still writing, with several novels and a book on Irish myth on the go, as well as developing her skills as a jeweller.