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Garden theft disappoints Richmond school, community garden

Hoses and shovels were among the items taken from Anderson elementary’s garden shed
Signs have been put up telling people not to pick produce from community garden plots.

A Richmond elementary school has to replace many of their essential gardening tools after a thief broke into their shed.

Anderson elementary’s outdoor learning staff discovered the school’s outdoor learning shed had been broken into in August.

Hoses, shovels, trowels and gloves were some of the learning tools that were taken.

“Our school community was sad to learn that these items were taken from our locked storage shed over the summer and these items will need to be replaced,” said the Anderson outdoor learning team in an email statement.

The garden and learning shed play an “integral part” of the outdoor learning program at Anderson, explained the team in charge of the program.

Many subjects at the school can be taught outside, such as science and math, and the school believes “nature provides unlimited inspiration for creative expression.”

“Developing a connection to our natural world helps students develop respect and a sense of responsibility for all of the living things in our environment,” said the school.

Meanwhile, produce at the schoolyard garden at Terra Nova Rural Park was also picked by another garden thief during the summer.

According to Ian Lai, executive director of Urban Bounty, previously known as the Richmond Food Security Society, the schoolyard garden is managed by a group of homeschoolers who have spent a lot of time running the garden.

“They’ve done an amazing job to (the plot) and they put all this effort and came back one day to find that someone had come by and decided to help themselves to something they had grown,” said Lai.

“It’s very disappointing because they spend all this time with excitement and anticipation and found their hard work gone.”

Since then, signs have been put up and the garden hasn’t seen any hungry thieves picking produce from the garden.

Lai told the Richmond News garden theft has always been a challenge for people who grow food in community gardens.

A common misconception, he said, is people believe the term “community gardens” means anyone can take food from them.

“Community gardens mean people need to rent a plot for them to grow their food and it’s theirs to pick, but if people didn’t rent the plot, they can look at it, smell it, but don’t pick them,” said Lai.

“Gardens are an important part of learning and education for everyone from zero to 99. It allows people to gather and have a community and conversation. But, please, don’t pick someone’s hard work.”