Sunday, January 06, 2013

Laws tells beneficiaries to grow veges

This is a welcome development, Michael Laws' column on-line the day it's published. Today he describes growing his first ever (as a grown-up) vegetable garden and advises beneficiaries to do the same so they too can eat better. They have the economic requirement and they have the time apparently.

I started growing stuff last year. Seedlings can be purchased dirt cheap (excuse the pun) from The Warehouse and save on growing time. For weeks we've used my home grown lettuces. The brocolli was a collosal failure with flowerheads that started to seed before they were the size of a good  mouthful. But the capsicums look promising and the spring onions are good.

Yet I think growing stuff is generally a life phase. You can't help but notice it's mostly older people who hang out in garden centres. I've a standing order in with my husband to stop me when I start talking plants and veges. It's just too boring a topic of conversation. And once you start getting obsessive about it, like all hobbies, it can cost a fortune. Before you know it you're hankering after a greenhouse.

So it isn't necessarily the best budgeting advice to give to someone on a benefit. Market produce, if getting to one is feasible, is probably more cost-effective. Besides which, growing stuff out of sheer necessity might take away the pleasure, with experiments and failures too costly.

And let's be realistic. Vege gardens require two things; discipline and optimism. I recall a 'client' from my volunteering days. A sole mother of two whose major battle was mental. She was depressed and as low on motivation as I have ever witnessed. A kind church goer put in a wonderful vege garden for her. Spent hours digging over and preparing the ground. Tended to it while things got going. But I think a falling-out between them ensued and the garden went to wrack and ruin thereafter.

Gardening is like anything else in life. You've got to want to do it. And the problem with non bona fide beneficiaries is there's a long list of things that they just don't want to do and a very short list of things they do.

The trouble with the way Laws approaches the beneficiary problem is that he thinks he can make them like him. I used to think that. That I could make people see the world through my eyes; see the opportunities, experience the satisfaction of a job well done, look forward to tomorrow. But the potential for that to happen is too often  destroyed by being locked in the benefit system.

I'm sorry. Here I am going into my 8th year of blogging still saying the same thing. It's welfare and the associated mentality that's the underlying problem. The other symptoms - Laws identifies poor parenting -  generally stem from it.


Lucky Ned said...

First and foremost, you need an actual space to grow things in. I've seen plenty of flats in Wellington either set in a cold, damp gully, or perched on the side of a hill, or part of a group of council flats. Most people I know don't enjoy the benefit of living on a large, flat section in St John's Hill, Whanganui.

Anonymous said...

It's welfare and the associated mentality that's the underlying problem.

So why don't you admit the only effective solution: stop paying benefits

robertguyton said...

Try this:

JC said...

"Most people I know don't enjoy the benefit of living on a large, flat section in St John's Hill, Whanganui."

Have a look at what the oldies do in the retirement villages. They have tomatoes and veges in the flower garden borders and in just 6 ft along the sunny side of the house they have a pretty full spectrum of plants with trellises to hold beans, tomatoes and other stuff. Others have largish pots with their veges and other specialty stuff like capsicums in them.

You don't actually need a lot of space to make a useful contribution to your food requirements and you can grow things you like to grow and swap them with others.


Anonymous said...

I am convinced that there is a yet undiscovered "lazy" gene, which resides in the majority of those who prefer to live and breed on welfare. Other traits associated with this gene are an attitude of entitlement and a poor work ethic. There is overwhelming evidence to support my theory of the existence of this gene because the children of these carriers are very much like their parents, and continue the cycle of "welfare dependence". The creation of the welfare state has allowed this genetic "mutation" to proliferate whereas in the past they would have had to make an effort just to be able to eat. Those days have gone. Welfare mothers want to put meals on the table with the least amount of effort and that is why 2 minute noodles and frozen or "convenience" foods are their choice. It is a mistake to assume that they would plant, dig, wash, peel and cook potatoes if only given the choice!