Open garden hit by thieves

Hannah BarryAlbany Advertiser
Rainbow Coast Neighbourhood community garden project manager Ryan Denniss.
Camera IconRainbow Coast Neighbourhood community garden project manager Ryan Denniss. Credit: Laurie Benson

Heartless thieves are repeatedly stealing items from not-for-profit group Rainbow Coast Neighbourhood Centre’s old community garden site.

The garden was designed to provide members of the community with an accessible source of healthy food and provide support to people living with disabilities and illnesses.

The centre began moving its garden in late August from Sanford Road to the rear of Mt Lockyer Primary School, and the old site has been the target of thieves over the past year.

Projects officer Ryan Denniss said fruit tree saplings had been uprooted and worm farms “the size of washing machines” had gone missing from the Sanford Road site.

“Our wheelie bins went missing over the weekend after we had a report from one of our volunteers who noticed people sniffing around,” he said.

“The most expensive thing we had taken was a $450 whipper snipper, which we have since replaced through fundraising,”

Programs in the open garden have been on hold since the beginning of the move, but the project aims to provide a community kitchen, private garden plots, and support for horticultural-based micro-enterprises.

The group is re-using materials and equipment from the old Sanford Road garden, and is managing the two sites separately.

Mr Denniss said the organisation had been idealistic in hoping the community would not steal from the site.

“We’ve admittedly been a bit slack on security measures, but this is changing with the new site,” he said.

“We are fencing off private allotments and our equipment, but we would still like to keep it accessible to the public.” The garden is run largely by volunteers, and missing equipment is only able to be replaced if the money is acquired through fundraising.

“These thefts are a real setback for us,” Mr Denniss said.

Rainbow Coast Neighbourhood Centre co-manager Sarah Hilder said it was difficult replacing stolen material and equipment.

“Some of our waste bins were being used as a barrier to protect the materials, and one has recently been taken,” she said.

“People are treating it like their own personal garage sale, and it makes things difficult being on a tight budget.”

“Stop taking our stuff, and consider helping instead.”

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