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The Tomato Project Part 2: Delivering growth to the community doesn't need to cost the world.

Updated: Jul 16, 2020

In part one of this project, I talked about how I managed to accidentally grow circa 300 tomato plants and how I decided what I was going to do with them.

Phase two of this project involved actually carrying-out that plan... It was pretty easy, and involved a lot of pavement pounding - it was very much worth it though.

I decided first-off to deliver at least one tomato plant to every house on my street - that's about 100 houses and a couple of hours. Then, I delivered plants to people in the area that I know - houses of families whose kids went to nursery with my son, the extended family of my shielding neighbours, and the house on the corner that is technically not on my street, but I've renamed it 'The House of Amazing Cooking Smells'. That covered another 25 or so plants.

With every plant, I left a note telling them what I'd left and how to take care of their plants. I believe in acts of kindness, but they shouldn't feel overly random - especially when you have a virile pandemic infection doing the rounds. Fly-tipping is a bit of an issue in our area, so I wanted to make sure my neighbours knew that I wasn't just dumping plants on their doorsteps. I also added a bit about The Volunteer Idea, because it's actually a good opportunity to attach my new blog to it and potentially encourage some people to volunteer with me.

On my journey, I met and chatted with eight neighbours that I'd never spoken to before, and a few that I just hadn't seen in ages. It's was a beautifully hot day, so really good for getting out with a few plants. On and off, it took most of the day as I had to take some time out to go shopping for my neighbour and stop for lunch, but it was really nice going up and down the street - south-facing gardens in the morning, and north-facing gardens in the afternoon, so that the sun would get rid of any potential germs that might be on the pots (although I had been quite conscientious with them).

After I'd delievered the plants to my neighbours, I needed to take action with the rest of them... What to do with the remaining 170-odd plants?! I'd decided to keep about six plants for my garden. The reason I decided to keep so many is that in the back of my mind there is still a real niggle that I will end up with a bad crop just like last year. So to be safe, I've kept a bunch. If I do well, then I'll have to make a tonne of tomato soup or give gazpacho a try. It'll keep in the freezer.

I approached my local council WhatsApp group in South London and let them know that I had a load of plants to give away. They kindly came over the following morning to pick them up. It was a beautiful warm morning, and Vidya (who is incredible and collects for our local foodbank) came over with her friend Rima to get them. It took not one, but two car loads to take the haul over to Pollards Hill, and they were so happy when they received them! It's a huge pleasure to know that the hard work that went into nurturing the plants was appreciated and the plants are going to people who will continue to look after them - and hopefully generate lots of fruit! Not only did the plants go to people who use the foodbank, but also to the local allotment, the lunch club and a load of the volunteers, who work so hard to keep it going.

It's amazing how something so easy like growing tomato plants can contribute to making a difference to so many people - even if it is just putting a smile on someone's face or giving them something to do in the garden. All it took was a little bit of time on my part, but I really enjoyed nurturing the plants. Gardening is incredibly mindful and so rewarding.

I've decided that I will definitely be doing something similar next year, and as my son will be going to school I would like to try to get some of the local children involved too. I will be writing about it here as well...

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