The plants have finally gone in the ground at our school garden. One parent, a volunteer and many teachers spent all day last Friday planting with the kids in each of the classes. There were many spindly little seedlings, some over-grown and weedy-looking plants, a few healthy specimens and lots and lots of very proud children.
But I went over to the school on Saturday to check out their handiwork and discovered that vandals had been at work over night. There were pepper and tomato plants popped right out of the ground, many of them still lying like fallen soldiers on the tarmac.
I was reminded of Gayla Trail of You Grow Girl fame and the wickedly brilliant sign she made a few years ago when someone stole her plants (I’ve posted about it before but a sentiment this bang-on deserves repeating):
Of course, this is an elementary school, so talk about punching kittens could easily set off a mass crying jag that wouldn’t end before the school year does. Anyway, it doesn’t look like they wanted to steal the plants, just rip them from the ground (and stomp on little children’s dreams).
The truth is, we’ve been expecting it (though admittedly not on the first day they plants went in…). The schoolyard is in a secluded spot where weekend partiers often gather. I once went back there on a Saturday and discovered a flashmob of trick cyclists with massive plywood boards (for ramps) and lots of beer. The caretakers spend Monday mornings picking up glass and other garbage.
Still, we’ve been trying to remain hopeful about the garden’s prospects this summer. We’re going to put up a sign and enlist the neighbours and local dog walkers in watching over the veggie patch. I was also inspired by this Rodale Institute article about vandals who were brought on board with a little compassion.
In the end, I was able to rescue about half of the plants that had been pulled out (the other half were destroyed or disappeared). Their roots were still intact and they seem to be okay after a few days back in the soil. I’ve got my fingers crossed (and my voodoo doll at the ready).
What do you do to encourage people to protect your community garden? I’d love to hear advice from anyone with experience.