P.E.I. community gardens say some people reaping what they didn't sow

·2 min read
A sign at the Stratford Community Gardens asks people not to pick plants that they haven't planted themselves. Two P.E.I. community gardens have reported vegetables being stolen lately. (Tony Davis/CBC - image credit)
A sign at the Stratford Community Gardens asks people not to pick plants that they haven't planted themselves. Two P.E.I. community gardens have reported vegetables being stolen lately. (Tony Davis/CBC - image credit)

People running community gardens in Stratford and Kensington say there has been a surge in the number of people complaining about their vegetables being stolen right out of their plots.

Stratford Community Gardens has issued a social media post reminding residents not to pick what they haven't grown themselves.

Kaylee Busniuk of the Stratford Area Watershed Improvement Group said there are always reports of theft, but the number of complaints has increased this week.

"There were some beets that were taken, tomatoes, a squash, and I think some lettuce and peas," she said.

"My best guess is someone walked through and thought it was the type of community garden where everybody grows produce for the community in general, rather than rented plots."

Town placing more signs

Stratford Community Gardens has more than 80 plots, all of which are rented out with fees ranging from $25 to $35 a season, or more for larger plots assigned to community groups.

The town said it has signs telling people not to pick what they haven't planted, but it plans to add more.

Tony Davis/CBC
Tony Davis/CBC

However, as a pilot project, one of the Stratford planters is being used to grow food free of cost for residents who find fresh produce hard to afford.

That makes Katie Sonier, environmental sustainability coordinator for the Town of Stratford, think it's all a misunderstanding.

"Hopefully it's just a miscommunication where they didn't know they weren't supposed to take the food [others are growing]. That's what we always hope, that people aren't doing it on purpose."

Cost of living a factor? 

Gardeners in Stratford aren't the only ones seeing a rise in thefts. Jamie MacKay has been noticing them too.

He runs the community gardens at Ross' Place in Kensington. The 42 plots in the garden are free for anybody who wants to use them to get growing.

MacKay said the garden lacks signage, so people may be assuming they can just "come through and help themselves."

Some of the food grown in the Kensington garden is also produced with the intent to give it away, which has MacKay also wondering about misunderstandings being behind the missing vegetables.

Jamie MacKay/Facebook
Jamie MacKay/Facebook

But he speculated that some Islanders who are really struggling with the rising cost of living are also reaping what they didn't sow.

"There are some people in the community that need that little bit of help," he said.

MacKay said he wants to steer away from adding any signage because he wants it to be a "nice, relaxing place people can go to."

He said he totally understands if people are taking the vegetables because they actually need them — and he hopes that is what's happening.