HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Dauphin County’s Community Gardens have been around since the late 1970’s.
Unfortunately, theft has always been a problem for those who choose to grow fruits and vegetables on the rented 30×30 ft. plots along Elmerton Avenue in Susquehanna Township.
“I usually try to plant enough for everybody,” laughs Walter Yellock, a gardener who has been using the community land for more than a decade. “I’ve had a few things taken over the years. It happens, but it hasn’t been that big of a deal for me.”
Jennifer Yates of Highspire started gardening two years ago, and says she was warned about theft. She recalls a story about a fellow gardener just last year, whose entire sweet corn crop was stolen the day before he had planned to harvest it.
“Its a shame when someone puts all that time and effort and money into something,” says Yates. “I was encouraged to plant a surplus. They tell you to do that.”
Yates is among gardeners noticing several new signs placed along the gravel access road leading to the gardens this season. The signs, read “Due to Recent Theft, the Community Gardens will be Patrolled on a Regular Basis.”
According to a Dauphin County spokesperson, the signs are not a direct response to a single incident of theft. Instead, the Parks and Recreation Department placed the signs as a new attempt to deter the problem that has plagued the garden for decades. Patrols refer to county security staff making increased visits to the community garden property.
‘I think it could help,” adds Yates. “I’m glad to see it, although I don’t think too many people are overly concerned about it. We hear about things, like some suspicious activity here at night, but we also try to get to know our neighbors and stuff. Then we know if someone who isn’t supposed to be here.”
Both Yates an Yellock say animals such as deer, rabbits and birds account for loss of crops as well.
“Not much you can do about that,” laughs Yellock. “Mother Nature will always take her share.
Yates says most of the gardeners would gladly assist someone who was in need of food, but suggests simply asking.
“No need to steal,” she said.