Friday, September 24, 2010

My community spirit takes another dive.

I mentioned last week that one of our neighbours dobbed us in to our council for (allegedly) spraying raw sewage into the creek. Our neighbours couldn't have been more wrong, and that little community encounter was disappointing, to say the least.

I've also mentioned before that I rent an old house to a large family who would probably be described in the tabloid media as tenants from hell.

Well, that rented house sits on three adjacent quarter-acre blocks. The tenants have the use of half an acre, while I use the remaining (fenced-off) quarter-acre as an aollotment on which I grow fruit and vegies.

Correction: I try to grow fruit and vegies.

I went over to weed and water the garlic a few days ago, and this was the sight that greeted me:

The garlic vandal's handiwork
 Of 60 thriving garlic plants, 32 had been pulled out of the soil and left to dry out in the sun.

It's really hard to know how to respond to this kind of mindless vandalism.

For starters, I didn't actually see who perpetrated this petty crime against self-sufficiency - just like I didn't see who took most of my pumpkins last season, or who broke all the branches on the lemon tree my mother gave me for my birthday a few years ago.

But, based on various pieces of evidence, it's a pretty safe bet that the tenants' children are the culprits.

The really sad part is that we have always actively encouraged the tenants' children when they showed any kind of interest in what we were doing with our food garden.

A few years ago, their eldest boy (now aged 11, and frequently suspended from school) used to love using our mattock to dig up thistles, even though the mattock was almost as big as he was, and he usually lost interest after about 30 seconds.

He would always be hanging around us, usually under foot and pestering us for attention - but we could hardly blame him for wanting a break from his home, which is in a state of almost constant shouting, swearing, and general mayhem.

This young boy helped us to turn local horse manure and green waste into compost.

He also helped us plant and tend the tomatoes, potatoes, and other green goodies.

When it was time for tomato harvest, we gave him an arm-load of tomatoes to take home to his Mum. We had a faint glimmer of hope that he and his siblings might get fresh tomatoes with their dinner that night, rather than something from the freezer section of the supermarket (in a town as small as ours, everyone knows what everyone else buys at the supermarket!).

The next time we saw him, we asked him if they'd enjoyed the tomatoes. His response stunned me:

"Mum says we don't eat food grown in shit."

And he never once came back to help us in the garden again.


  1. Did you tell him us poor folk have to eat stuff grown in shit because we just can't afford the high price shit they grow on supermarket shelves. ;-)

  2. I didn't manage anything close to a snappy come-back, Jonesy - I think I just stood there like a stunned mullet with my mouth hanging open.

  3. Surely you could kick them out?