Produce being pinched from North Dakota community gardens


Community Gardens can bring a community together, and put fresh produce on your table. But produce has been disappearing from some Bismarck gardens — and rabbits are not to blame.

A local gardener tells KX News that a majority of his produce was stolen just in the past couple of weeks. We asked the manager of the Bismarck Community Gardens about this.

“For a lack of better words, they will help themselves to the garden,” says Steve Neu. “We have caught a few people doing it over the years and they think, ‘Well, it’s a community garden and it should be open, and it should be free, and I can take stuff.’ But no, it’s not.”

There are well over 650 ten-by-ten plots in Bismarck that serve over 250 gardeners in our area. Those gardeners spend months and months preparing for the growing season and eventual harvest.

Neu says that theft defeats the purpose of a community garden.

“‘Community’ means it’s about being the community in Bismarck,” Neu says. “It’s about developing a community in a neighborhood of gardening and gardeners. It’s not a free garden.”

Neu says it isn’t a huge problem for Bismarck gardens, but they do see around three to four instances every year — some worse than others.

“All they got to do is ask,” says Neu. “If they see me at the garden just ask. I have provided produce to people that have just come to the garden and said hey do you have any extra carrots, do you have any extra potatoes?”

The Bismarck Community Gardens have not reached the point of having to put up security cameras, but they do want people to know that the gardens are not free for anyone to pick up produce.

“My hope is if someone does go into a garden, that they eat it, they take it home and they eat it and they serve their family for a short period of time,” Neu says, “not throw it under a tree someplace or throw it out in the street. That would be my bigger concern.”

All extra produce in the community gardens is donated to local shelters, churches, and soup kitchens. They are looking to expand more gardens in the future and maybe even have a free produce garden.

All the community gardens are maintained by the park districts, and you can get your own 10 by 10 plot for $15 in Bismarck. For more information, click here.

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