Gardening for Life!

Vandalism

2013KENSCFAug 12 (7)

Lighting: Use motion sensor lights, cage lights to prevent breakage, and twilight-to-dawn solar lights that are securely fastened, depending on location.

 

Art, Tagging and Graffiti: Prevent taggin by commissing a grafitti artist to do a mural (after asking permission to do so from the landowner).

 

Vehicles: Cement abutment and or wire post barriers are available from City of Calgary, call 3-1-1 for further information, to prevent people from driving vehicles into the garden.

 

Positive Loitering: For people hanging around, talk to them, open a conversation, take an interest, and invite them to come to garden on a specific upcoming date.  This makes gardeners no longer strangers and real people with stories.

 

Engage the Calgary Police Service (CPS) as a partner:  Contact your CPS district office to find out who your Liaison Officer is.  Phone CPS when destructive garden vandalism occurs, drug deals are observed or suspicious behavior noted. Garden vandalism may be part of larger series of neighbourhood crimes.

 

Water prank vandalism: Lock off external water access or place a timer on the inside of the building. Lock up cisterns so they can't be drained overnight.

 

Weekly Garden Monitor: Have each gardener take one week during the growing season.  As Garden Hero  / Garden Angel / Groundskeeper during that week he/she visits the garden each day and takes a careful look around to check on things.  Report any vandalism immediately to police and to garden team.

 

Fences:  are not a solution to vandalism because they do not deter vandals.  The City of Calgary will allow a fence on property to keep out wildlife only and posted messages on fences with appropriate approval (call 3-1-1).  Preview City signage bylaws before posting any signs.

 

Eyes on the Garden: Act on the goal that by June every garden member has met and can recognize all the other garden members.

Host a social open house for people living in neighbouring condos, apartments, single family homes bordering on the garden and invite them to report any suspicious behavior they see.

Arrange public seating for people to stop by to enjoy the view of the garden.

 

Make the community garden look like home, with a defined perimeter and evidence of frequent activity.

 

Use the garden for other activities such as picnics, seniors' tea, storytelling, nature crafts, juice-making, seed saving, meditation, coffee gatherings...

 

Recovering from Vandalism: Rally round the gardeners who are most affected.  Offer to share produce or help repair damage.  Commiserate with them and put into place the recommendations above.  Involving all gardeners in putting preventative solutions into place encourages their desire to monitor the garden, motivation to meet all the garden members so they can recognize each other and recruit more eyes on the garden.  Media coverage of vandalism does not increase the frequency of vandalism.

 

Avoiding Temptation: Do not plant tomatoes, peas or set up attractive trellises.  These are vulnerable to theft and vandalism. Grow tomatoes in containers at home (on a back step or balcony). Kids practicing vandalism seem to be drawn to be destructive with onions, carrots, beets and tomatoes.

 

Avoid planting in rows. Use companion gardening and high yield gardening methods (such as square foot gardening) because this dense, layered vegetation can confuse some potential thieves and make crops less recognizable to the inexperienced. 

 

Plant less familiar vegetables such as kohlrabi, kale, and collard greens.  They all grow well here.  Many vandals / thieves don't know what they are.

 

If there are homeless individuals in the area, engage them.  They are very unlikely to be vandals or thieves and in some gardens help care for garden beds when others are away.

 

Next Topic: Theft