Gardening for Life!

Lessening Plant & Produce Theft by Design

Produce theft can take place because families are hungry and short of food.  It can also happen because of a lack of understanding of who can harvest from the garden.  Sometimes garden thieves steal in order to avoid the effort of caring for food crops and flowers.  Put into place different strategies to address these different kinds of garden interference.

To discourage plant and produce theft::

1.  Post a sign in many languages explaining how to contact and join the community garden.  Be clear that the gardeners are local residents growing food and flowers for their families.  Sometimes people do not understand the concept of a community garden and think that the produce raised is for anyone to pick. 

2.  Set up Tasting Gardens on or near the outside of the garden perimeter with a sign "Enjoy fresh food when it is ripe from this Tasting Garden."    One way to do this can be to post the City of Calgary Community and Nieghbourhood Services sign with "Welcome" in many languages.  Attach the community garden's name and email address to the sign and add arrow pointing downward to the tasting garden bed.

3.   Pick produce as it ripens.

4.   Ask gardeners to arrange for another gardener to pick the ripe produce when they are away or unable to visit the garden.

5.  Prevent harvest waste and neglect.  Put in the gardener's agreement that gardeners leaving ripe produce in their beds unharvested will be contacted.  If the gardener does not respond, the crops will be harvested and given to an agency serving Calgarians who do not have access to fresh food.

6.  Share surplus produce in an obvious way. Set up a labelled giveaway basket at the entrance of the garden that is filled regularly with extra produce for kids needing a snack or families short on fresh food.  Have a sign explaining "We Share Vegetables with [name of organization, agency serving hungry Calgarians]."

7.  Consider making several signs for the garden. Include the email address people can use to join the garden. Use wording like "Please Respect Our Garden. We're Growing Food for Neighbourhood Families."

8.  Welcome and get to know neighbours whose windows overlook the garden. Trade flowers and vegetables for their watchful observation of the garden.

9.  Plant potatoes, other root crops or delicious but lesser known vegetables such as kohlrabi along the side walk or fence.

10.  Create a cheerful shaded seating area so people who are not gardeners will spend time in the garden enjoying it.

11.  Plant unusual varieties of vegetables in the garden beds that are not quickly identified such as purple beans, orange cheddar cauliflower or white eggplant.

12.  Grow tomatoes in a large container at your home (not at the community garden).

13.  Adjust the garden design using suggestions in Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design