The founder of an allotment created to help those worst hit by the cost-of-living crisis, which went viral on social media after it was vandalised with salt, said the ordeal has been “heart-wrenching” but “welcomes” a police investigation.
Officers from Essex Police opened an investigation to find the culprits and have asked anyone with information to come forward.
Carly Burd is the creator of the A Meal On Me With Love initiative, which grows and distributes fresh fruits, vegetables, and other essentials to those on benefits and low incomes and pensioners.
Ms Burd, from Harlow, Essex, told the PA news agency that the ordeal, which was reported to police on Wednesday, has been “heart-wrenching”.
“They were so lovely they said ‘it’s okay, we can replant it’.
“They’ve worked so hard. They’ve put the effort in and we’re trying to make a change – it’s upsetting.”
Ms Burd told PA she is “over the moon” that she will welcome back the children and families who initially helped to plant 300 onions and 300 potatoes on the allotment.
“The kids are going to come back and we’re going to replant, so I’m absolutely over the moon about that,” she added.
“I’m just a girl that grew a carrot… I didn’t know anything about growing,” she said.
“I just had to do it, I had no choice.
“I went without heating last year, and what was I supposed to do this year, go without food?”
She has been overwhelmed by people’s support as her GoFundMe, which was backed by Match Of The Day host Gary Lineker, nears the £240,000 mark.
“I’m just a girl that loves the outside. I don’t watch TV and I only go on my little TikTok or my Facebook account, because I was encouraging the community to join in and that’s it,” she said.
“So this is all completely blown me away.
“My volunteers have put so much work in and it’s just heart-wrenching.
“But I can’t let it get me down because it makes you feel worse… I have to carry on.”
Surprised by the incident, Ms Burd said that she has “never felt such hate”, but urged the culprits to contact her.
“I’ve never felt such hate. I get on with everyone in my community,” she told PA.
“I want to say to whoever did it, I’m here if you want to talk to me. No aggression intended, that’s not my style.
“It won’t leave my lips and it won’t go out to anyone, but come and talk to me.”
While she struggles to understand why the incident happened, she hopes to support the person who vandalised her allotment.
“I’m not a threat to anyone – I’ll be there and support you and I’ll do everything I can to support you,” she explained.
“I can’t understand why somebody would do something so hurtful, but I’m here for a chat.”
Essex Police received a report on April 12 where officers visited Ms Burd’s allotment and conducted door-to-door inquiries.
The incident was understood to have taken place between 2pm on April 7 and 9am on April 8.
Chief Inspector Paul Austin, District Commander for Harlow, issued an appeal for witnesses and anyone with CCTV or doorbell footage of the incident to come forward.
“Carly is naturally devastated about this mindless act, which has caused real harm to her efforts to help those most in need in Harlow,” he said.
“However, it is striking how determined she is to ensure this act does not stop her good work.
“The support she has received both here in the community and from across the country has been truly heart-warming.
“We take all matters of criminal damage seriously and are conducting a thorough investigation.
“We need anyone who may have information about this incident to come forward, your reports to us do matter and make a huge difference.”