Harlow allotment: woman devastated after five kilograms of salt poured over crops used to feed community

The allotment Carly Burd used to help feed the community in Harlow was destroyed overnight 

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A woman who grew her own food to feed more than 1,600 people has been left devastated after her allotment was salted and destroyed. 

Carly Burd, from Harlow in Essex, blasted the vandals on TikTok, sharing that salt had been poured over freshly planted crops overnight. She used the crops to help feed those in need of food in the local community for free. 

Speaking to National World, Carly said that the vandalism was a “smack in the face” and she “couldn’t believe” that anyone would want to destroy the crops, which were a vital lifeline for local people during the cost of living crisis. 

A fundraiser on GoFundMe, which was launched last year to help with the day-to-day running of the allotment, has now hit more than £200,000. Celebrities such as Gary Lineker and Diary of a CEO podcast host Steven Barlett have backed Carly’s cause.

Carly worked to build up allotment scheme to feed the community

Carly started work on the allotment in September 2022 after she and her children began growing crops in their own garden. The green-fingered community hero, who has multiple sclerosis and lupus, was inspired to help the community when she was forced to shut off her own heating due to the cost of living crisis.

She said: “I built my garden up when I knew the cost of living crisis was coming. We went without heating last year - this year we would have had to go without food, so that wasn't gonna happen.”

The family’s garden crops helped not only themselves but local people in need of food. The project grew so large that Carly asked the council to begin a pilot scheme to open up allotments and grow food for the community.

“They hadn’t been touched in eight years. The brambles were eight foot high, front and back, and we worked and worked and worked at it.”

The allotment featured five rows of potatoes and 300 onions. These crops, in addition to cut-price items from supermarkets, have placed into boxes which have been handed out for free 1,613 times since the scheme began

Carly did work alone however, with local children taking a role in planting the food. 

“Children that suffered with autism, ones that weren't at school because they didn’t fit in. They used their time to grow for somebody else. 

“These children while they were planting them, they were asking, ‘Who were these going to?’ and I’d say ‘the families, the ones that need help at the moment’. So all your effort you're putting in we're gonna grow for these families to walk in and see over five kilograms of salt chuck all over, it was unreal.”

‘It was a smack in the face’

Carly described the moment she saw the huge amounts of salt poured across the allotment, which has rendered the soil useless and ruined the freshly-planted crops. She said: “It was a smack in the face.

“Someone could have touched me and I think I would have fallen over. I just couldn't believe that someone would go to that extreme.

“You can taste salt in the air, that’s how much has been put down, and it's horrible. You constantly need to drink because the salt dries your mouth.”

The cruel vandalism has left Carly unable to provide the food in the same way she had been doing over the past seven months. “I say to everyone in Harlow, if you're finding cost of living costs, message me. 

“I’ll bring around two big bags of food, and it's enough to last you a good few days and it’s healthy food, it's not rubbish. To see someone who's done that, it literally did break my heart because I don't gain anything from this, I’ve put everything into it.”

'I feel like I have half of England behind me'

Documenting the aftermath of the cruel act on TikTok, Carly poured her heart out to her viewers. The video has now had more than 2.2million views on the app. 

The public has raged at the vandalism of the allotments, with celebrities even backing Carly’s cause. Football pundit Gary Lineker tweeted his support and pledged £500 to Carly’s GoFundMe, which raises money for the running of the allotment. 

She described her astonishment at the support. Carly said:  “I feel like I have probably half of England behind me. 

“Someone's taking the time to sit there and actually even just write something, when they could just scroll past. I'm gonna read every single message because it means the most, it really does.

“I’ve got support to stand up so I feel like I can carry on.”

The fundraiser has now reached more than £200,000. To donate to Carly's cause, you can find the fundraiser page here.