Gardener’s world

10 October 2012
A pamphlet published today argues Britons should work a four-day week, claiming we would all be happier and healthier if we spent more time outdoors, taking up ‘gardening leave’. It calls for adapting available spaces in Britain’s towns and cities to get more of us involved in gardening. It says this will not only make communities stronger, but will make the economy more resilient and better equipped for challenging times ahead, including food and energy price shocks. The proposal – written by Andrew Simms as part of his new book Cancel the Apocalypse: the new path to prosperity with co-author Molly Conisbee, former campaigns director of the Soil Association – points to success in the Netherlands, where shorter working weeks are common practice. Inside, the pamphlet harks back to the Roman philosopher Cicero who said: “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” It seems that artist Francis Bacon also upholds the case for gardening leave: “God Almighty first planted a garden. And indeed, it is the purest of human pleasures.” Well, if the Romans are behind it then that’s good enough for me. Wouldn’t we all spend less time in the office and more time pruning our hedgerows if we had the choice? If you are a four-day-a-week worker, what do you spend your day off doing?
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