How can we stop people stealing fruit and vegetables in the community garden?

By Loal Conroy, 24 May, 2024

Our Community Garden team of volunteers have been left saddened yet again!

For the second year, every single mandarin has been stolen from the tree... in one hit.  Our volunteers put in a lot of effort, time and their own cash to make this small corner flourish... they make relishes, jams and pickles (some sold in Coffee in the Cove) to enable the purchase of seeds, fertilizer and plants.

People have been seen filling plastic bags with produce without making payment... it is only meant for those that contribute annually, to pick as they need and leave plenty for other day or for other paying pickers to do likewise.  One year the bananas were cut down whilst still green... taken before they were ripe. 

We fear people only take things for the rush of beating someone else from taking it, and as most people will not be able to make unripe veg or fruit tasty - we fear the fruit will be thrown away and wasted, completely ruining the ethos of this garden which is for a sustainable community.  Team members are losing motivation due to the continual thefts.

Stealing a plant from someone else's garden is actually a criminal offence in NSW.  According to the Crimes Act 1900, section 520, it is an offence to steal plants or vegetables that don't belong to you, or to destroy or damage them with intent to steal them. This of course, would be difficult to enforce and I am sure the perpetrators are aware of this.  Anyone have some clever ideas how we can stop these 'greedy' not 'needy' freeloaders?

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3 weeks 1 day ago

I see one local rural block owner has erected a 2m high cyclone fence around his block, topped with barbed wire. While the council doesn't seem have a problem with this kind of development, the garden group might choose to follow this example. Electrification would enhance the effect.

Seriously though, modest fencing and a gate would  make it clear that the garden is not a free-for-all public space. Perhaps with signage spelling out how the garden is managed and with specific opening times for the general public. Maybe a few solar lights on posts.  I've seen well-lit fenced gardens in large cities that seem relatively free from untoward behaviour.  This won't stop determined intruders, but will make them feel very exposed.  

I'd be happy to help in erecting a fence if the club wanted to go down this path.