Someone is stealing plants from Apalachicola’s community garden.
Not just the vegetables, or the leaves, or the stalks, but the whole thing, and they want to get to the bottom of.
“We have had at least five boxes vandalized, some multiple times,” said Sabrina Fornes, a spokeswoman for the garden. “Whole plants including bell pepper, okra, cucumber and others have been taken. It doesn’t make sense. It’s not just the vegetable, it’s the whole plant.
“We’ve had one garden box that has had 14 whole plants taken at different times, and another garden box that had eight plants taken at separate times,” she said.
The decade-old garden, on City Square, at 8th Street and Avenue F, across from Chestnut Cemetery, now features the work of about 40 gardeners, who tend 28 boxes, plus an orchard, pollinator garden and in-ground plot.
“Many of our boxes are gardened by two people,” said Fornes. “Currently, we are growing tomatoes, squash, beans, cucumbers, peppers, eggplant, corn, okra, pumpkin and herbs in our garden boxes.”
Fornes said one gardener had only one plant pulled up in nine year, “but this year she’s had multiple plants taken. She regretted she didn’t get her peppers the day before they took the whole plant.
“People start this from seeds,” she said. “These are the little babies. They watch them get up to maturity and someone just yanks them out.”
Fornes said it is possible that hunger is the motive, but she’s skeptical.
“If they were hungry they would take just the vegetables,” she said. “They’re pulling up the whole plant and they take it with them, and a lot of time it’s even before the vegetable is ready. We really think this is vandalism.”
The gardeners have brought in surveillance equipment to see who may be behind the thefts, which are happening mainly on the west side of the garden, directly across the pavilion on Avenue F.
“During this time it really provides gardening therapy for people, to be out in their gardens and to grow their own food,” Fornes said. “We have such an older population and they’re not having to go to the grocery to get their vegetables.
“If people are hungry, people were willing to help. There are other options we have,” she said. “I get it that people are hurting. There are other avenues and we’d be more than willing to donate stuff if people are in need.”
For more information, you can reach Fornes at firstname.lastname@example.org