Thieves Steal Vegetables, Tools from Smart Farm Garden
Produce and gardening tools have vanished from the nonprofit organization's plot at Beese Park.
Smart Farm, an educational vegetable gardening organization, harvests hundreds of pounds of produce for the needy every year. One hundred percent of its crop is donated to local food pantries. This year, the group likely will have less to donate due to thieves stealing produce from the Beese Park garden plot.
“It’s sad,” Smart Farm board member Kathy Gabelman said. “You’re not hurting us, you’re hurting the food pantries.”
Gabelman said other gardeners in the community garden plots noticed a woman stealing produce from both the Smart Farm plot and neighboring garden plots this week.
“The gardener who saw her said she had a bag and was going through everybody’s garden and just taking the best produce,” she said.
Gabelman noticed eggplant that was ready to harvest was gone from the Smart Farm plot. A neighboring gardener said cucumbers and tomatoes were stolen from her garden as well. Since the theft, the gardener has posted a sign that reads:
“Keep out if not your garden! Stealing is a sin! You are being watched!”
If the vegetable thief is truly in need of food, Gabelman said the group is more than happy to help.
“Maybe she’s in need and doesn’t know how to get the food from the food pantry,” she said. “If you really need food, contact Smart Farm so we can provide it to you.”
But it’s not just vegetables that have gone missing from Smart Farm’s Beese Park land. Gardening tools also have vanished.
“I used to have five shovels, now I’m down to three. I had three or four scuffle hoes, now I only have one,” Gabelman said.
Volunteers are happy to loan the tools to others as long as they are returned. Without a storage facility to keep the tools, the group relies on trust to make sure their equipment stays put.
Gabelman said the Barrington Park District is aware of the problem, but she’s not interested in filing a police report. Volunteers would appreciate the community’s help in watching what goes on in the gardens.
“If you see people taking produce, please tell them to stop,” she said.