Smashed tomatoes, broken corn stalks and trampled plants have become an unfortunate sight for many of the gardeners of the Carver Community Garden, as vandalism and theft has become progressively worse over the past month.
It’s an issue the gardeners are trying to solve in order to maintain the garden’s future in the city.
“It’s discouraging, and I don’t want this garden area to become just a fenced-in grassy area that the city has to maintain, and if theft and vandalism becomes bad enough people are going to quit gardening here, because they know that the risk just outweighs the benefits,” garden coordinator Sam Jones said.
In order to come up with a solution to the problem, a meeting was held Tuesday with many of the gardeners who grow at Carver. After airing their frustration, one of the decisions made by the group was to change their name from Carver Community Garden to Carver Peace Gardens — a name change Jones hopes will better explain what the garden is about.
“We just thought that name encompassed more of what we’re trying to be and accomplish,” she said.
Jones said there has been some misunderstanding with the garden’s original name, as many people thought it was a place to get free produce, when in fact, the plots are rented by each gardener from the city-owned Carver Recreation Center.
“That was probably our fault for not being more clear about that. We just assumed that people would understand the meaning behind ‘community garden,’ that it’s a community of gardeners who have come here and rented a plot,” she said.
While some of the gardeners grow food to put on their own tables, many of the members donate excess produce to local food pantries, churches, Carver and people in need, Jones said.
“I don’t mind sharing, but I would like to educate the public on what we’re trying to do here as far as not just growing food for ourselves,” she said. “It’s not just a purely selfish thing here. Many of us are sharing what we’ve got. We just want to be asked.”
Jones said the group has talked to Johnson City police about the issue of theft and vandalism in the garden, and police have said they will increase patrols around Carver overnight when there aren’t any gardeners working.
In addition to the name change, the group voted to add some gates to the garden’s entrances to keep people out at night.
“We left it open because we wanted people to feel like they could be part of it, but people misconstrued that, so we’re hoping that just a visual reminder with a gate that this really is private rented plots here,” Jones said.
For more information on the garden, call Carver Recreation Center at 461-8830.