BLACKFOOT — Organizers of the Blackfoot Community Garden are asking the public to help prevent thefts from the garden.
People who are seeking to help themselves—whether it is through lowering grocery bills or providing their families with nutritional fruits and vegetables have tended to the garden, which consists of approximately 15 private plots.
This week, approximately $1,000 worth of produce grown in the garden was taken, said Lee Hammett, Community Dinner Table board member. The Community Garden is an extension of the Community Dinner Table.
Lt. Paul Newbold with the Blackfoot Police Department said it is a crime to take produce from the garden without the permission of the individual plot owner. He said officers are investigating the incident and will likely submit their investigation to the Bingham County Prosecutor's Office later this week.
"People may be making the assumption that based on the word 'community' it is open to anyone, however that is not the case," Garden Coordinator Jon Lyksett said. "The plots are the property of the gardeners assigned to them."
There are several families raising food in the garden to feed their families, and Lyksett said they are deeply hurt that the fruits of their labor have been stolen.
"There are a lot of families raising food to feed their families for the winter," Lyksett said. "This is not just a hobby for them. They have put it a lot of hours and a lot of work."
Lee Hammett, Community Dinner Table board member, said stealing the produce is the equivalent of taking the food straight out of the gardner's mouth.
"It's been happening on and off during the summer," Hammett said. "It's added up. Everybody out there has lost something."
There are signs posted at the Community Garden clearing stating the rules and a phone number is posted for anyone to call with questions.
Hammett said they plan to ask neighbors near the garden and those passing by to report suspicious activity. They may also install security cameras.
"This is not just about missing tomatoes or peppers that are gone. These gardens matter to people," Lyksett said.