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Vegetable rustlers steal hundreds of growing plants from Newton farm; they had a particular preference for scallions

Holes where plants used to be

Holes where plants used to be. Photo by Newton Community Farm.

Newton Community Farm on Nahanton Street reports somebody spent some time Thursday night or Friday morning making off with hundreds of plants.

In e-mail to supporters, the farm's executive director, Sue Bottino, writes:

We came in this morning to discover many, many plants missing from the Farm. Someone, or multiple people, took basil, scallions, eggplant, and cucumbers planted in the field and trays of cucumber, tomato, kale, corn, and other seedlings from the new greenhouse. They stole hundreds of plants. Whomever took these plants knew what they were doing and targeted certain crops and even certain plants. They tried to find the scallions by first picking some leeks and then onions before they found what they were looking for. They took other plants by digging them out from the roots, presumably so they could be re-planted. They removed cloth that was over the eggplant and cucumber plants in the field and took them.

These plants were being grown for our community: for our CSA sharers, farm stand and farmers' market customers, and for donation to the Newton Food Pantry and Freedge. We are devastated and angered by what happened and the impact to our community.

We have notified the police and they have seen the footprints and knee-prints in the soil. There will be increased patrolling of the Farm area and we are installing security cameras.

Farming is a difficult, stressful job as it is. Dealing with drought, heat, flooding, animals, insects, and all the rest pose huge challenges. Our farm manager and his family live onsite and have had their safety and security violated. We have been here going on 18 years and have never before had theft like this. Please help us find the person or persons who did this and help make sure this does not happen again.

She adds:

Be on the lookout for anyone who suddenly has hundreds of plants going into gardens or is offering lots of plants for sale who hasn't done this before.

Call the police if you see vehicles parked near the Farm perimeter on Nahanton or Winchester Streets late at night or early in the morning. The Farm is closed from dusk to dawn.

Call us at 617-916-9655 to report suspicious activity. You can leave an anonymous tip or speak to me directly.

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Comments

Is there a way we can contribute to help the farm offset the financial cost of the theft and new security system?

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As a nonprofit, they do accept donations: https://newtoncommunityfarm.org/donate/

(I am a regular at their stand, and a purchaser of their plants, but am unaffiliated otherwise.)

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Thank you for covering this. There are lots of plant sales this time of year so I hope people will call the number if they see something weird!

Newton Community Farm is a nonprofit and is a major contributor to food security support systems in Newton. In spite of this theft, they delivered 60 bags of produce to the Newton Freedge in the last day.

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Really, stealing somebody's hard work trying to grow food?
That's like stealing someone's tools.

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When they got up to get a drink. The people who did this are shitheads.

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There was a tomato thief at a farm in neighboring Waltham, 2015 -2017. I believe she was caught, but I couldn't immediately find a link.

https://patch.com/massachusetts/waltham/waltham-farm-tomato-thief-do-you...

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who was also a horticultural malfeasant. End the mistreatment of our green brothers and sisters!

https://www.universalhub.com/2017/who-speaks-trees-brighton-tree-ninja-a...

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in 2020 or so. They were digging plants out of people's gardens, possibly for resale. Most or all ornamentals. They were eventually caught!

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What trash. Stealing someone's food like that is awful. I work hard on my garden and gladly offer the veggies to my neighbors.

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We need to get to the root of this theft. Can't just leaf it alone.
Hopefully the investigation will bear fruit.

Some autonomous mobile garden gnome sentries lent by Boston Dynamics could help with video.

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...but they're really scallions.

(a little out of season, but good prep for Christmas in July)

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Scallions are dirt cheap and super easy to grow - I have a small crop in the side yard of my apartment building just from planting the last couple out of the bunches I got from the supermarket even. Seems odd to go for those over leeks or onions - is this just an "ease of reselling" or is there a specific recipe they wanted to make that called for a lot of them?

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