Light fingers dismay green thumbs
After spending months carefully cultivating their vegetables, community gardeners are being beaten to the harvest by thieves.
Theft from the Owairaka Community Garden is a frustratingly consistent problem, gardener Gillian Dance says.
‘‘Because it is a community garden there are people who think they can help themselves. If you plant it, you can harvest it, if you help with the watering and care for it, you can take it. Who is going to take part if people just come along and take their hard work?’’ Dance says.
The garden gives groups and individuals a place to grow plants and food if they aren’t able to do it at home.
A trust that assists people with mental illnesses had been growing lettuces in the garden to provide lunches for children at a nearby school.
Volunteers turned up one morning to find all of the lettuces had been taken.
‘‘Things like that are a real deterrent for others wanting to use it,’’ Dance says.
There has been a garden at Owairaka Park for more than a decade. ‘‘It’s a real drawcard.’’ The garden serves a number of purposes, Dance says.
‘‘It’s an education thing. There are kids who don’t know that peas come in a pod because they’ve only seen frozen peas.
‘‘I saw a mother down here who had six kids who was harvesting silverbeet. I was thrilled,’’ Dance says,
The initial garden was in a different part of the park and was fenced. It was overseen by a trust. Auckland Council is ultimately responsible for the current garden but users take care of the plots they’re using, Dance says.
There are plans to put up new signs to educate the public and stop the thefts.
‘‘I think the problem can be helped with the signs but it can’t be completely stopped,’’ Dance says.
Generally the garden well respected.
Apart from the thefts, there is relatively little vandalism, she says.
Stop stealing: Gillian Dance wants people to stop taking plants from the Owairaka Community Garden.