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Vandals damage Wisconsin garden.

  • Subject: [cg] Vandals damage Wisconsin garden.
  • From: Don Boekelheide dboekelheide@yahoo.com
  • Date: Tue, 15 Aug 2006 19:44:06 -0700 (PDT)

Daily News, Beliot, Wisconsin
August 14, 2006 

Community grows together with garden

By Judy Jackson
Daily News correspondent
The thing that frustrates me most is that this is not
a restricted area or an area you have to break into,
and the produce is available to anyone willing to work
an hour a week, said Anna Kokity, project coordinator
for Merrill Community Garden.

She was talking about the damage vandals did to the
garden on Aug. 11, the night before volunteers came to
work on the garden. 

Some tomato plants were uprooted, and they took out a
lot of the stakes. We had some flowers planted along
the border, and they ripped them out. They pulled up
squash plants
. Kokity said, surveying the damage.

Look at the poor corn, said one of the two
elementary-age girls who had come to help. She tried
vainly to right one of the broken stalks. Fortunately,
most of the garden was left intact, although Kokity
estimated the damage to be about $30 - $40.

The homemade sign on the corner of the lot said,
Saturday, Aug. 12, 9 a.m. Garden Wood Work help
needed. In response, about 14 people, most of them
members of Boy Scout Troop 615, had shown up to work
that morning.

They were building a rainwater collector in the corner
farthest from the street. The structure consisted of a
slanted roof supported in each corner by a 4-inch by
4-inch wooden beam. A rain gutter was attached to the
lower side, with a downspout to channel rain falling
on the roof into four rain barrels just under the edge
of the roof. It had been designed by boy scout Josh
Meier, 17, of Janesville, who was also hard at work.
For Eagle Scouts, he was required to complete a
project that showed he had leadership abilities,
according to his mother, Rose Meier. He had considered
several, but chose to collect the rain.

Some of the boys were holding the corner beams
upright, while others nailed supports for the roof in
place. Just a few feet away, several were nailing
together the framework for the roof, which would be
lifted into place on the beams and covered with rolled
roofing. The four barrels were closed on top, and
attached to each other by plastic pipe. At the bottom
of each barrel, they had installed a threaded faucet
so that a hose could be attached for watering the

Since the park had no running water, Kokity had been
hauling water in 5 gallon pails from her home
approximately a mile away. She usually made the trip
about twice a week. In addition to reducing the amount
of work, the rainwater collector will have other

Rain water is naturally more nutritious to use than
city water, said Kokity. I want to do what's best
for the environment.

That day, Kokity had also hoped to have enough help to
make a permanent sign for the garden, and to build
more raised beds standing 1-1/2 to 2 feet off the
ground. The raised beds would make gardening more
accessible to those with physical limitations, as it
would enable them to work the land from a chair,
Kokity said.

A second plot of ground had been tilled up just a few
feet from the original. According to Kokity, a couple
had heard of the garden effort and had graciously
tilled it up. They also donated and transplanted some
items from their own garden.

The scouts had worked until dusk the day before,
hauling in materials for the rainwater collector. To
make room, they had cleared away heavy brush that hid
the fence in the park's southwest corner and city
crews had pitched in, clearing away the remainder of
the brush along the park's west side.

It's a lot safer, commented Kokity. Kids would play
back there all the time, and you couldn't see them.

Despite the disappointment caused by the vandalism,
Kokity has great hopes for the Merrill Community
Garden. She looks forward to being able to network
with local schools and churches, devising
garden-related educational programs for all ages and
creating a source of food for people in the community.

We'll clean up as much as we can, salvage what we can
and carry on, she said. I'd like to keep this as an
open garden available to anyone who's willing to

The American Community Gardening Association listserve is only one of ACGA's services to community gardeners. To learn more about the ACGA and to find out how to join, please go to http://www.communitygarden.org

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