'The whole country is behind me' says charity allotment holder as salt attack sparks £170k donation
Carly Burd said could not believe the public support she had received
The founder of a charity allotment vandalised by salt said she had been "overwhelmed" by people's generosity after donations to her GoFundMe page topped £165,000.
Carly Burd, from Harlow in Essex, is the creator of the A Meal On Me With Love initiative, which grows fresh fruit and vegetables and distributes them to those struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.
The plot was wrecked after salt was poured on to the allotment, prompting an outpouring of sympathy and donations to Ms Burd's online fundraising page after she posted an emotional video on TikTok after discovering the attack.
She told ITV News Anglia she now felt "like I've got the whole country behind me... and I really, really appreciate it".
Describing how she discovered the attack, she said: "I walked in Saturday morning and you could taste it, you could taste it as soon as you came in.
"As I walked round the corner I knew what it was straight away and I just couldn't believe it - it was literally like I had been kicked in the face.
"Straight away I picked my camera up and was just showing everyone. What you got [on TikTok] was my first impression of what I saw. Even now, it hurts so much, and it's affected me a lot."
A tearful Ms Burd added: "They destroyed so much more. The last couple of days has been so hard, dealing with all the emotions of it all and feeling like I've let people down. Because I really do... that would have fed so many people."
"All of a sudden my phone just started going 'ding, ding, ding' and it just didn't stop. There were phone calls and people wanting interviews...all of a sudden I was blown away by the amount of support."
ITV Anglia's Rob Setchell tells the story of Carly Burd's reaction to the vandalism and her response to all the offers of help she has received.
Ms Burd said she had found the response overwhelming and she was delighted that so many people wanted to help.
"I literally felt like I could fall to my knees and that would be it and now I feel like I've got the whole country behind me and I really, really appreciate it."
On Wednesday, Match Of The Day host Gary Lineker tweeted "why would you ever do something like that?" alongside a video of Ms Burd in tears at her allotment, while a £500 donation under his name was made to her GoFundMe.
"It's been a whirlwind," Ms Burd said. "I took a picture [of the then-top donation] just because it said Gary Lineker... I couldn't believe it, I was over the moon."
Ms Burd had prepared the land and allowed children and their families to plant 300 onions and 300 potatoes, but said everything was "ruined" after the incident.
"Three hundred onions that children had planted - autistic children, children that are having a hard time at school and kids that are out with their granny for the Easter - all of that got ruined," Ms Burd said.
"All of the potatoes we planted all got ruined. That would have fed 300 families. So now we have nothing at the moment, which is absolutely horrible.
"It has impacted so much more than just that because it's the environment as well. All the worms and everything underneath all got (the salt) and it's destroyed so much."
ITV Anglia's Hannah Pettifer went to talk to Ms Burd about setting up the allotment in October.
Ms Burd's initiative started in her back garden but moved to the allotment so she can grow more produce, which she boxes up along with other essential items before it is distributed to those on benefits and low incomes and pensioners.
She said the vandalism has "put me back" from supporting those in need.
"It's going to take me two days yet of trying to get the ground ready and moving the earth off of it, and another two days worth of digging, but that's only the potatoes," she said.
Ms Burd's GoFundMe page meanwhile has "gone absolutely crazy".
By 11.30am on Thursday, donations totalled almost £169,000.
"I'm just absolutely overwhelmed by everybody's generosity," she told the PA news agency.
"It just feels like a dream, that's all I can say. It feels like in a minute someone will shake me and wake me up."
The keen gardener said she hopes to use the money towards turning her initiative into a charity and to buy equipment to help get the allotments "sorted".
She said: "I can buy a rotavator and I can do it myself and I haven't got to rely on people... I can actually just crack on with it myself and that's a massive help.
"I can get all of the allotments sorted and we can get this running; it will be so good for our community, we really do need it."
Ms Burd added: "The messages get to me the most because someone's taken the time out to sit and actually write that and it means a real lot to me."
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