The Tomato Project Part 1: How to inspire community growth for just 58p

Updated: Jul 16, 2020

I first tried my hand at gardening with gusto in 2019 - pretty unsuccessfully I might add. Prior to that, I'd always been given tomato plants by my dad, which had grown reasonably well, but last year I thought I'd give it a go myself. I didn't do very well at all. None of my tomato plants propagated properly and I even managed to kill a courgette plant, which is apparently rather difficult.

Fast forward to 2020 and we're all in lockdown. I decided to splash out 58p on a couple of packs of tomato seeds and have another crack at gardening. This year, I actually read the instructions on the propagator and asked my dad for some advice, and the result could not have been more different to last year. I didn't even use the whole of the second pack!

We're going to need more pots...

What happened? I started planting seeds in March, and basically, it went really well. I was left with two propogators FULL of little tomato plants and wondering - what the bloody hell am I going to do with them all? Luckily, I had a load of compost for the plants to live in (last year's plants had already died in them, perhaps fertilising them somewhat) and I found a bunch of pots in my garage left over from previous plant gifts from my mother in-law.

This wasn't going to be enough though, I still needed more pots!

Walking around my local streets, I noticed that alongside some recycling, some keen gardeners had left a load of pots in their front garden! Flytipping is known to be a bit of a nuisance in our area, but I took this to be a sign for me to take the pots and plant tomato plants for my local community. There ended up being around 50 pots, and while this was a good haul, it STILL wouldn't be enough! So I started raiding my recycling bin. I took squash bottles, water bottles, milk bottles and yoghurt pots drilled some holes in the bottom and made some makeshift pots. Perfect.

Great, they're potted in pots - but now what?

I'm estimating that I'll have around 300 plants - give or take. I've taken the decision to initially distribute plants to all of the houses on my street because, in these tough times, community

Improvised pots from raiding my recycling bin

is going to be incredibly important. Also, I operate on the logic that if you want to live in a nice neighbourhood, be nice to your neighbours. In the grand scheme of things, my giving out tomato plants is a very small gesture, but one which I can own and use to get to know my neighbours a bit better. As I will probably have about 170 plants left after that, I will then see if my local foodbank is willing to take some.

Growth, Community and Health

When the Covid-19 pandemic settles down a bit, there are a few things that are going to be really important:

  • Growth: be it economic or personal, this pandemic has presented us with so many challenges that we need to overcome and learn from. We need to come out of it with the belief that, in spite of the virus, we can learn and grow - and come out stronger in every way. When looked-after properly, tomato plants can give so much back. The same can be said for us - when we look after ourselves and each other, we can give and get so much back.

  • Community: we're all in this together. The virus discriminates against no one and we need to ironically be less communal in order to build our community. The little things such as ur neighbours, clapping for the NHS and the simple gift of a tomato plant are all contributing to the strength that we can each give to our community.

  • Health: If you don't come out of this experience with a renewed appreciation of health, our NHS and what it is to be healthy, then there is something wrong with you. Eat well and be considerate of our planet. Tomatoes are also high in vitamin c, potassium and vitamin k.

I want these tomato plants to symbolise growth, community, health and the simple fact that everyone has something to contribute - it doesn't have to cost the earth.

More to follow on this journey with Part 2...

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