Leaf thief grief for com­mu­nity gar­den

Te Puke Times - - FRONT PAGE - By STU­ART WHI­TAKER news@tepuke­times.co.nz

A light-fin­gered let­tuce lifter has left Te Puke Com­mu­nity Gar­den chair­woman Julie Gray dis­heart­ened.

As part of their spring time prepa­ra­tion, vol­un­teers planted 200 let­tuce seedlings at a work­ing bee two weeks ago.

When plant­ing peas a week later, Julie no­ticed one or two of the seedlings had gone miss­ing. Frus­trat­ing, she says, but not un­usual.

“Then last Thurs­day, on my way to work, I stopped off to check the peas and dis­cov­ered all the let­tuce beds had been stripped.

“It’s crazy — they are not even plants, they are just seedlings.”

The let­tuces were be­ing grown to sup­ply The Daily cafe and the town’s foodbank at Em­pow­er­men­tNZ as well as be­ing for the com­mu­nity.

Julie had grown the plants from seed, with oth­ers be­ing sold to help fundraise for the gar­den.

”It took a cou­ple of months to get the seedlings ready to put into our gar­den, and a week later they are all gone.”

She says she has around 50 left to par­tially re­place those that have been stolen.

At $3.20 for six seedlings, it isn’t prac­ti­cal to pay to re­place them, so the hope is that some re­place­ments will be do­nated.

”This de­prives so many peo­ple of the fact that they could get a nice let­tuce from the com­mu­nity gar­den, be­cause they are gone. It’s re­ally, re­ally dis­heart­en­ing”

The seedlings would not have been easy to re­move as they were un­der shade net­ting which would have had to be moved aside.

Half a bed of kū­mara has been stolen from the gar­den in the past, and seedlings do some­times get taken, but not on the scale of the re­cent theft.

”I don’t want to have to fence the gar­den off as that would de­prive peo­ple of the abil­ity to walk through and en­joy the gar­den,” says Julie.

There is a stand where sur­plus pro­duce is put that can be taken and when a crop is ready to be picked and is avail­able to the com­mu­nity, no­tices are put on the rel­e­vant beds.

Julie says the let­tuce seedlings were put at the Jo­ce­lyn St frontage.

”I joked at the time that it didn’t mat­ter if peo­ple picked a few - but to come along and find them all gone . . .”

READ the sign — Te Puke Com­mu­nity Gar­den chair­woman Julie Gray is dis­heart­ened by the theft of 200 let­tuce seedlings.

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