The British (or at least the writers at the Evening Standard) are fond of attributing monetary worth to the most unquantifiable of events, informing us for example that the magical London snow day in February 2009 in which every Londoner woke up happy and strangers said hello to each other in the street cost the economy £3 billion. It’s not surprising of course that in our society the media insists on this kind of “expert” analysis (or at least less surprising than the fact that the Royal Wedding will cost the British economy £5 billion), but I think there’s something inherently sad at the heart of it – as though nothing can ever simply just be, without having to be worth something in order to have a purpose (or lack of).
So for once I was pleased to read the article in this month’s Jellied Eel about the Tufnell Park resident Mark Ridsdill Smith who has calculated that he has grown £812 worth of fruit and vegetables on his balcony, measuring less than 3 square meters (that’s £270 a meter). Among the runner beans, courgettes, carrots and potatoes, Smith grew the equivalent of 100 bags of salad, 92 supermarket punnets of tomatoes and 120 packets of herbs.
Gardening is certainly not something I started to do for the money, but in the great British tradition, I’ve succumbed to the fact that as well as reaping ecological and health benefits, it can provide you with massive savings on your food bill. Or at the very least, a couple quid’s worth of parsley.
Smith details how and what he grew, with minimal space and an abundance of creativity as well as the “worth” of each of his harvests in his fantastic blog, Vertical Veg.