A woman in Harlow, Essex, has been utilizing her land to cultivate food for families grappling with the U.K.’s high cost of living. Carly Burd, known as @carlyburd43 on TikTok, initiated the “A Meal on Me With Love” project, aiming to provide nourishment to those in need. However, her efforts were met with devastation when she discovered that her garden had been ruthlessly ruined by salt.
In a heartfelt video that has amassed over two million views as of now, Burd tearfully showcases her once flourishing plot of land. The soil, freshly tilled and full of promise, now bears the visible aftermath of an act of vandalism—tiny white salt particles pervade the once thriving area.
“I’m absolutely heartbroken,” she says.
Burd suspects someone must have jumped over her fence at night to scatter salt over her land. Just as excess sodium is bad for humans, too much sodium chloride (aka table salt) can cause irreversible damage to plants because it dehydrates them.
“That means everything I’ve planted won’t grow and I can’t replant on it because it won’t grow,” Burd explains in her clip. “So all the hours and hours of work that we’ve put in is now dead and they’ve done it everywhere.”
Through tears, she proclaims, “You won’t stop me because I’ll just pick it all up and I will carry on.”
Burd writes in her caption that she has helped supply 1,613 people with food through the cost of living crisis — an ongoing period in the country where prices on essential goods and services are rising much faster than household incomes. As of January 2023, the crisis had affected 92% of U.K. households.
To help lessen this burden on local families, Burd’s A Meal on Me With Love initiative sends a large box of essentials plus “enough food, fruit, vegetables, pasta, rice, breakfast,” and more.
By addressing local food insecurity through her garden, Burd is also helping the planet. Home growing is a more sustainable agriculture practice than factory farms because its small size requires fewer resources and less energy. Additionally, the garden’s proximity to her community means this food doesn’t have to travel far to get to a family’s table, meaning far less fuel gets wasted in the process.
Even as Burd struggles to make ends meet with the disability assistance she receives for her multiple sclerosis and lupus, the TikToker says she pays for most of this initiative herself — with occasional help from companies.
In September of 2022, she created a GoFundMe to raise £4,000 ($4995.25) to help with the costs. But after her recent TikTok went viral, over 4,000 people helped to surpass this goal, raising nearly £65,000 ($81,172.85).
Burd followed up her viral TikTok with another video, expressing her gratitude for the donations she has received.
“But I’m still absolutely heartbroken,” she admits in the clip.