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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Doing something about food theft from our garden

Hi there,
As you probably know, lots of people visit our garden. They enjoy wandering through and admiring our efforts. It’s an important aspect of our garden that we are open and welcoming and it’s how many of us first got involved.

Unfortunately some of our visitors don’t just look, some are taking food that isn’t theirs to take. For a while we’ve been hearing reports ranging from the loss of an occasional eggplant through to whole crops being taken from personal plots just as they’re ready to pick. We’ve recently tried putting up some signs but it hasn’t helped.

This is very sad, disappointing and frustrating for everyone but ESPECIALLY for those committed people who lose their food! As it’s happening quite a bit, we must do something about it or we risk being an open, welcoming garden with lots of unhappy gardeners.

Ty Cacek/The New York Times
"A gardener's recipe for vengeance at the Sixth Street and Avenue B Community Garden in Manhattan."
We're not alone: community gardeners everywhere experience food theft, all deal with it differently
Last week, at our monthly meeting, nine members of our organising committee made this problem our highest priority. There was vigorous discussion about lots of different options and we agreed unanimously on a plan.
For 3 months we’re going to put locks on the garden gates.

Why are we doing this?
This won’t stop someone who is determined to take food but it should send a clear message and deter most people.
We’ll take this time to make some proper signage and work out what else we can do to combat this bad behaviour. Please share any ideas you have about this.

When will it start?
We’ll set a new combination for the shed, wheelbarrows and gate and lock up for the first time from the end of the next Garden & Gather (Sunday 27th April 11am -3pm).

What else?
One gate will have a combination lock like the shed and wheelbarrows
The other gate will have a keyed lock for people who have trouble using the combination lock.
All our combination locks (shed, wheelbarrows, gate) will have the same combination.

How do I get the new combination or a key?
To get the new combination (or to get a key) you’ll need to come along to the next Garden & Gather (Sunday 27th April 11am -3pm).

If you can’t make it then we’ll have someone at the garden on the following dates/times:
  • Thurs 17 April 10.30-11.30am
  • Mon 28 April 5.00 - 7.30pm
  • Tues 29 April 5.00 - 7.30pm
  • Sat 3 May 10.00-11.00am
  • Mon 5 May 5.00 - 7.30pm
  • Tues 6 May 5.00 - 7.30pm
  • Thurs 8 May 5.00 - 8.00pm
  • Fri 9 May 10.15 - 11.15am or 6.00 - 6.30pm
  • Thurs 15 May 7.30 - 8.00pm
Like I said before, this is an unwanted and sad turn of events but we feel we need to take this action to address the important issue.

If you have anything to say about it, please feel free to email us ( or bring it up down at the garden with a member of the organising committee.

Optus RockCorps Volunteer Working Bee - Sat 19th April

Remember last Winter we were lucky enough to host a Food Forest Permablitz when about 60 volunteers (including many of us) helped us get months of work done in a day? Big days like this can give us a real boost, tackling big jobs that might take us 3-4 monthly working bees. We made some new friends and had a fun day too.

If you go down to the garden this Saturday, you're in for a big surprise...not so much a teddy bears picnic*, more like a BIG volunteer gift to our garden and us from Optus RockCorps who provide opportunities for people to volunteer their time in return for exclusive music rewards.
(* I might be showing my age with the Teddy Bears Picnic reference.)

A few weeks ago they asked if we could benefit from one of their working bees. In short they were offering to help organise and run the day, bring 40-60 volunteers who'll help us to make things better at the garden and food forest. How could we pass up an offer like that!?!?

Since then we've been busy getting a program of work organised, sourcing materials and getting all the details sorted out. It's happening this Saturday, 19th April between 10am and 2pm. Here's some of what we have lined up for people to do on the day:
  • Sheet-mulching outside the whole garden perimeter, creating grass-free buffer outside the fence to help us manage the never-ending grass problem
  • Installing more of the food forest watering system to reduce the number of people needed to do watering
  • More sheet-mulching in the almond/pistachio area to protect the low tree branches from mowing and to help the trees
  • Painting some mural panels that we can hang on the fence to brighten things up and act as a wind break
  • There are some other things we'll try to get done too like Communal bed raised bed building using pallets weeding garden and food forest.
Although this is their gift to us you're very welcome to join in if you want to. If you're interested, please go here and register.

A few dedicated members of the garden organising committee (thanks Anna, Jools, Karen and Janelle) will be there to lend a hand. If you're passing by give them and the other volunteers a yell and say "Thanks!". They're all doing us a massive favour.