Not so many years ago I was just like countless other small scale vegetable growers, working myself literally into the ground, trying to compete on the subsidised global market, whilst doing my utmost to care for the land and remain solvent.
I worked all hours, every day. I’d hear people complaining about the price when they bought my vegetables from local shops. It seems not many people know that we now spend less on food, as a percentage of our income, than we ever have. For many, food has become a worthless but necessary inconvenience.
But now my world has changed. Now I get to work with lots of keen volunteers who love the work they do as much as the food they produce. Now I get to give the food away to people who appreciate it and understand the work, the love, and the piss that goes into it. And together we get fed as much by feeding the food, as by the food itself. Because it isn’t just what goes in our mouths that gives us strength.
And somehow the money keeps coming in to keep this project running. Money is such a useful thing, someone’s time and effort condensed into a coin, crushed paper thin, or blipped into ones and zeros and flung across the web, either way a gift to be given freely. And then reused, upcycled, invested into seeds, and tools and plant pots.
But what I love most of all about the time and effort and money that people contribute so generously, is that it is not an exchange of this for that, but instead a token of support for a project that loves giving. It stops people from asking themselves how much they think something is worth and instead encourages them to give what they can in support of our smallholding.
Where once we were forced to sell worthless vegetables, we now are privilaged to give priceless ones away.