Vegetables pinched from Ladner community garden
As gardeners in South Delta prepare to harvest the fruits of their labour, some are finding thieves have gotten there first.
Kristen Crouch wrote recently on her Ladner Community Garden blog that there have been reports of vegetable thefts over the last few weeks.
She pointed out that just as news surfaced in Richmond last week about an agricultural theft of 5,000 pounds of potatoes, and another theft from the Terra Nova Sharing Farm, now people are plucking veggies from Ladner as well.
At first Crouch said gardeners figured it was just an isolated incident, until a member spotted someone shopping with empty bags in hand.
"It's only a matter of time before we get a photo of this person, but for now I hope they are enjoying the fruits of our labour," she wrote on her blog.
The Ladner Community Garden has 46 allotment beds, making there plenty to choose from. But Crouch says she's surprised because nothing was taken last year.
Some of the more difficult-to-remove vegetables, like cabbages, had to have required gardening tools, so Crouch speculates the theft is more than just a crime of opportunity.
"Someone's been harvesting our carrots and carefully cutting the tops off and just leaving the tops behind," she said in a phone interview.
It's not so bad knowing the food is being eaten, but she says gardeners get upset when vegetables are uprooted and left to rot.
More disappointing still, Crouch says when she went to harvest beans for the food bank they were almost all gone. Fortunately, one gardner donated 16 pounds of beets, a zucchini and some carrots. But Crouch hopes the thefts won't cause a shortfall of the regular donations made to the food bank.
The thefts have even caused one neophyte gardener to consider giving up.
"He was babying along this yellow zucchini and when he came to pick it, it was gone."
So, why the sudden rash of radish rustlers?
According to BC Statistics' Consumer Price Index for July, the price of fresh vegetables has dropped five per cent from the same time the previous year, so supermarket prices likely aren't a factor in the thefts which have also spread to Tsawwassen.
A comment on the Ladner Community Garden blog written by Carly Swift said her blueberry bush was stolen from the Earthwise Garden in Tsawwassen. Thieves also plucked all her peas and beans and damaged the roots.
"It's so sad to see the hard work of others marred by a vandal," she wrote.
Juliana Christiansen, outreach coordinator for Earthwise, says she thinks the blueberry bush was stolen by a gardener who would know how to safely remove it so it could be replanted in their own garden.
"It happens every now and then," she said, adding she thinks thieves mistakenly believe they're stealing from a big company that wouldn't notice.
"But the community garden belongs to families," she said.
Earthwise tries to discourage harvesting with signage, explaining it's a community garden. Earthwise also runs a harvest box program in Delta, which provides a family with a box of fresh organic produce for $25.
"I think they just don't understand how much work goes into it," she says. "Especially when you're gardening organically, it's all hand labour."
Crouch says she doesn't want to fence and padlock the Ladner community garden like in some big cities, but that might have to happen.
"We would be more than happy to help out someone who really needs food," she said. "That's what we do. Gardeners love to share their harvest. But ask first."