Community Garden News: Preventing Veggie Theft

Every year we have a few incidents of vegetable theft.  It’s as innocent as kids playing house in the Northside hops teepee, making food for their dolls with the harvest or as intentional as a group of people spilling from a camper  to quickly pick as much as they can carry.  Garden City Harvest has seven community gardens in Missoula and only one of them has a locked gate, a response to repeated vandalism and veggie theft.  Many other gardens remain intentionally open to the public.

So what can we do about veggie theft?

First, report it.  Let your Community Garden Manager or a Leadership Committee Member know what happened.  We want to keep record of all incidents to plan an appropriate response or to alert the necessary persons.

Beyond reporting, get to know your garden neighbors! If you see someone at the garden who you haven’t met, introduce yourself.  When I was little, my dad tutored me on making small talk as we rode the chair lift.  He’d say to anyone riding next to him, ‘nice day ‘ay?’ For me at the community gardening it’s… ‘how’s your garden growing?‘  The more you are able to get to know the people around you, the better you’ll be able to identify a suspicious person at the garden.  Not to mention you might meet someone who’ll share a recipe or help you water in a pinch.

If you see a stranger at the garden, and feel that the person is safe to approach,  share a carrot with them and then let them know what community gardening means to you. Someone might not be aware that community gardening isn’t a place for the community to come harvest at will.  Maybe point them in the direction of your garden’s food security plot.  Or, if they’re interested in renting a plot, point them our way and we’ll get them on our waiting list.

Lastly, there are other opportunities to access fresh fruits and veggies in Missoula.  Here are a few resources to pull from your tool belt… Garden City Harvest’s Volunteer for Veggies Program, the Missoula Food Bank, and the Poverello Center’s soup kitchen.  The Missoula Food Bank and the Poverello Center distribute and cook with produce grown by your very own Garden City Harvest!