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.
Samizdata quote of the day
16 minutes ago