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What are the best ways to protect community gardens from vandalism and theft ?

Home Forums General Columbus Discussion What are the best ways to protect community gardens from vandalism and theft ?

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  • #87764
    Tom Over
    Tom Over
    Participant

    Columbus Eastside resident Melvin Harris disapproves of a no trespassing sign and the newly placed fence at the large garden at Mound and Carpenter run by Four Seasons City Farm.

    “There’s no reason to put a fence around something that should belong to the whole community,” Harris said.

    He said he’s never seen a fence around a community garden.

    ” I don’t think that’s fair to anyone in the neighborhood, especially (during) the times we’re going thru now w/ people losing jobs and having problems paying their rent and getting food on the table for themselves and their kids.”

    Harris said people in this East Side neighborhood should be able to go to the garden and pick some vegetables w/o having to deal w/ a fence, so long as they help w/ some of the work.

    After I had packed up my recording equipment, long-time community gardener Daniel Ingwersen arrived to the garden site.

    He pointed out to Harris (and me also) that a portion of the garden was left unfenced, so that people in the neighborhood still had some crops, such as collard greens, which they could harvest whenever they want, regardless of whether they’ve helped w/ the garden.

    Ingwersen agreed w/ Harris in that a community garden belongs to the neighborhood. But he said the newly placed fence was necessary in order to be able to follow thru w/ their commitments to people in the local community.

    That commitment involves giving 1/3 of the harvest to local food pantries; giving 1/3 to those who volunteer in the garden; and selling 1/3 of it.

    Restaurants such as the Angry Baker, Yellow Brick Pizza as well as retailers such as Greener Grocer and Clintonville Community Market buy vegetables from Four Seasons. The community garden also sells produce at its farmers market on Saturdays at 18th and Main.

    Ingwersen said the money the garden makes helps them pay for expenses related to planting, caring for, and harvesting the crops, such as rototiller service.

    Ingwersen said they have posted signs to explain to local residents how the garden works, but that those signs such as the one in the photo above have been torn down repeatedly, apparently by people wanting to harvest from the garden w/o working in it.

    He said he wants to share as much food w/ the neighborhood as possible but doesn’t see any alternative to fencing in a large portion of the garden.

    “It’s just a very few people who abuse the system. But all it takes is 2 or 3 people to wipe out the entire garden,” Ingwersen said.

    The sign in the photo is not posted currently because it’s the only one they have remaining. They’ll post that notice again when they make duplicates of it.

    Harris, who lives nearby, enjoys the garden, even though he doesn’t approve of the no-trespassing sign or the fence.

    “It makes me feel I’m out in the country somewhere and not in the city. There’s not much traffic out here, so it’s quiet and peaceful… I’m going to come and volunteer my time to help make this garden grow.”

    WCRS Columbus community radio

    #456397

    Get yourself some bear traps and razor wire – these thieves have no respect! If you act like an animal then expect to be treated like one IMHO. I have 0 emphathy or sympathy for the thieves – maybe some mace and coating the plants and fruit with rat poison. These thieves shit where they sleep and are very destructive! They are generally totally disrespectful of other people’s hard work and effort – especially the people who are trying to make a change in their own neighborhoods!

    #456398

    lifeontwowheels
    Participant

    I’m just going to ignore that one.

    Tom, I like the idea of the signs. Maybe something more permanent? Perhaps a local sign/graphics company would be willing to do a small donation or something at cost.

    Maybe more engagement? Is there only one day of organized volunteer time? I imagine individuals are going in and working through the week on their plots. Having more variety in times may help get people out. Also things like a potluck or picnic at or near the garden. Advertise free food and see who you get, make a plea and talk.

    I would also say talk to CPD liaison in the neighborhood. If these folks have no qualms about stealing people’s food, what else are they stealing? I know CPD is not going to put veggie theft on a priority run (I mean this isn’t New Albany or anything) but from a proactive policing standpoint it might be worth their time to keep an eye out.

    #456399

    I get tired of everyone expecting to pick the fruit and not do any of the work.

    Nothing is free in life…if you want to pick the produce then pull weeds, water and care for the plants…everyone has to contribute and if you don’t want to contribute or pull your own weight then don’t expect to share in the benefits….there is a sense of entitlement in this country that people can just take what they need from others without working for it… This is theft, loafing and loitering….IMHO. I know people think I’m nuts, you can’t have farm and have 10 families living off the farm and only 2 families willing to work the farm…

    In the Muslim/Islamic world – they would cut your hand off for stealing a pepper, in China they would shoot you on sight (no trial, no questions, end of story) maybe that is the fear we need to instill in these thieves! Current system is not working and it starts at home with the parents, etc!

    #456400

    lifeontwowheels
    Participant

    Umm I don’t think nuts even covers you at this point. I honestly struggle with the proper word to describe it.

    So if I put rat poison on my veggies to keep the neighbors out, how do I then consume the veggies personally? Doesn’t that kind of defeat the point?

    Of course we would have peace and harmony, breaking out in joyous renditions of “It’s a Small World”, if we just tazed all the punk ass 6 year olds out there.

    #456401

    HopperFan
    Member

    “In the Muslim/Islamic world – they would cut your hand off for stealing a pepper, in China they would shoot you on sight (no trial, no questions, end of story) maybe that is the fear we need to instill in these thieves! Current system is not working and it starts at home with the parents, etc!”

    I seriously hope this is hyperbole – otherwise you’re some kind of raving lunatic.

    #456402
    Anne Evans
    Anne Evans
    Keymaster

    I don’t know how you would really combat that problem without having a fence around the entire area or someone there all of the time. It stinks that people are just taking the food, but it is probably something that people do not exactly equivocate to ‘stealing.’ The food is just ‘there’ and it is in a ‘community garden.’ Should be free to everyone! How is it known that some may not be contributing any work for food – they *could* be pulling a weed or two along with taking that zucchini – weeds do grow pretty fast and some people do have a low work ethic. But in the sense that it is a garden for the community, how do you really get around that?

    I guess you just have to go into it with the idea that you aren’t going to get all of your food if it is just out in the open and just have to be okay with a certain amount of loss. Four Seasons has each third devoted to something and no place for loss. I can understand why they would be disappointed.

    Perhaps they should drop the community garden out of the name and call it Four Seasons Farm. If it is on private property, they can do what they want.

    #456403

    GW_Justice
    Participant

    I read an article about this subject that was reprinted from an old newspaper story from back in the 30’s. Community gardens were big during the depression, and they also had thieves. The solution that they used was to hire kids to spend the night as watchmen.

    Things were not so different back in the “old days”.

    Oh, and KingLincolnUrbanEnthusiast – if you are doing an impression of a Dispatch commenter, good one. If that is how you really think, seek treatment.

    #456404
    rus
    rus
    Participant

    Anne said:

    Perhaps they should drop the community garden out of the name and call it Four Seasons Farm. If it is on private property, they can do what they want.

    That’s probably the best idea… incidentally, it reminds me of the private parks in NYC. Fenced, guarded, but growing different plants.

    #456405
    Tom Over
    Tom Over
    Participant

    KingLincolnUrbanEnthusiast said:
    Get yourself some bear traps and razor wire – these thieves have no respect! If you act like an animal then expect to be treated like one IMHO. I have 0 emphathy or sympathy for the thieves – maybe some mace and coating the plants and fruit with rat poison. These thieves shit where they sleep and are very destructive! They are generally totally disrespectful of other people’s hard work and effort – especially the people who are trying to make a change in their own neighborhoods!

    The point is to improve relationships among people by growing, processing, and selling more food in our communities.

    lifeontwowheels said:
    I’m just going to ignore that one.

    Tom, I like the idea of the signs. Maybe something more permanent? Perhaps a local sign/graphics company would be willing to do a small donation or something at cost.

    Maybe more engagement? Is there only one day of organized volunteer time? I imagine individuals are going in and working through the week on their plots. Having more variety in times may help get people out. Also things like a potluck or picnic at or near the garden. Advertise free food and see who you get, make a plea and talk.

    I would also say talk to CPD liaison in the neighborhood. If these folks have no qualms about stealing people’s food, what else are they stealing? I know CPD is not going to put veggie theft on a priority run (I mean this isn’t New Albany or anything) but from a proactive policing standpoint it might be worth their time to keep an eye out.

    I agree. For starters, we need signs that do a better job of explaining the garden to those who may come around when we’re not there.

    Knocking on doors and/or leaving some sort of flyers in the neighborhood may help too, as does saying hello to kids and adults and inviting them to come over and check us out.

    And ur point about working w/ CPD is good too. The bottom line is that this all requires work–physical, mental, and social.

    So as to not point my finger at others, I’m working on getting beyond my social comfort zone, so as to help with what I see as an ongoing problem : a local food movement here in Columbus, Ohio comprised disproportionately of economically comfortable white folk.

    We’ve had cookouts w/ free food, and will keep trying with that.

    #456406
    Coremodels
    Coremodels
    Participant

    Violence.

    #456407
    Tom Over
    Tom Over
    Participant

    rus said:
    That’s probably the best idea… incidentally, it reminds me of the private parks in NYC. Fenced, guarded, but growing different plants.

    The property is rented from the city.

    #456408
    Tom Over
    Tom Over
    Participant

    Anne said:

    I guess you just have to go into it with the idea that you aren’t going to get all of your food if it is just out in the open and just have to be okay with a certain amount of loss. Four Seasons has each third devoted to something and no place for loss. I can understand why they would be disappointed.

    Thanks for pointing that out Anne. I’ll bring that up to Hank Koehlher and Daniel Ingwersen who more or less run Four Seasons City Farm.

    #456409
    Chris Sherman
    Chris Sherman
    Participant

    Coremodels said:
    Violence.

    Veggie violence..

    #456410

    rory
    Participant

    I have a neighbor who plants poison ivy to deter theft. And if they don’t know about it they get something extra when they’re wading around in the garden.

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