ST. PAUL (WCCO) — Growing your own fruits and veggies takes a lot of time and hard work. But some gardeners in the Twin Cities are going out to pick their veggies only to find someone else beat them to it.
Z. Lu Alexander helps maintain the community garden in her St. Paul neighborhood and it’s meant to bring the neighbors together.
“I’ve had several gardeners who had beautiful peppers, tomatoes and eggplants that they were nurturing and waiting for the perfect day and when they would come on that perfect day, gone, broke their hearts,” said Alexander.
Alexander says she has caught people stealing and while some only take a few things others come by the car load, raid the garden and make off with full shopping bags.
“It’s not okay for people to assume someone put in all the work and they can just take it,” said Alexander.
Stealing became such an issue at the community garden on 38th Street and 3rd Avenue in Minneapolis.
Organizers put in a fence and installed a lock to keep people out.
“I think it’s incredibly disheartening and it can get to a lot of anger around who is doing what and why are they doing it,” says Kirsten Saylor, Executive Director of the non-profit Gardening Matters.
Saylor keeps tabs on the 350 community gardens in the metro.
Saylor says stealing is a growing problem, one they’re not sure how to stop. She says giant fences take away from the feel of community and signs do little to keep people out.
Some of Alexander’s neighbors put up small fences around their plants as a deterrent but they know it’s out of their control.
“They don’t know what to do about it and they don’t want to deny anyone food if they need it,” says Alexander.
Saylor tells us people rarely file police reports about this.
They believe they’re might be some confusion over newly created community gardens where anyone is welcome to take the fruits and veggies.
If you would like more information on community gardens, a big event is being held on August 11 in the Twin Cities.
Check out GardeningMatters.org for more information.