Community garden theft.

My onion harvest was grossly truncated by theft this year – aside from an earlier picking of smaller bulbs, the remainder of my onions (somewhere between 20 and 30 of them) were stolen from one of my community garden beds just over a week ago.  The garden coordinator said that theft had been a huge issue this year (perhaps understandably, given our current global health crisis and high unemployment rates) and she was taking measures to try to mitigate the problem.  Installing a trail cam to try to catch night-time prowlers was one first step, and she was considering new signage.  I have had some minor theft from my beds in previous years (a few carrots there, an onion or garlic bulb or two), but this was the first time that an entire crop had been taken.  I am always happy to help out anyone in need, so hopefully the thieves enjoyed some good meals from the plants.  It made me chuckle a little when I noticed that they left my beets and kohlrabi alone – it appears the culprits had a refined palate and only wanted onions!

Our community garden actually has several beds in the garden that have been set aside and planted by students from one of the schools in the area for anyone in the community (not garden members) to harvest whenever they want to, but our garden coordinator noted that these aren’t the beds that are mysteriously losing produce in the middle of the night.

If you’re on Facebook, the Calgary Horticultural Society held a Facebook Live session earlier in the year to discuss theft and vandalism in community gardens – you can view the archived video here. (It’s public, so you don’t have to be a member of the page to watch it). This sort of thing is fairly common in community gardens and you just have to be aware of it and try not to get too upset when you’re at the receiving end.  Gardeners do love to share, after all…I just kind of wish that the thieves would have left me a couple of onions.  🙂

*IMAGE courtesy Clipart Panda.


  1. I hate to ‘like’ this post in some ways, but on the other hand, your way of dealing with the situation may be helpful to others. It’s hard not to become frustrated or angry in the face of such behavior — or just sad, for all that — but on the other hand, the culprit may simply have been taking the phrase ‘community garden’ a little too literally.

    One of our favorite family stories involved produce theft. On my mother and father’s first date, he was doing what young men do: bragging a bit about his exploits. He bragged about he and his buddies stealing a watermelon from a certain patch, and it turned out to be my grandfather’s melon patch: my mother’s dad. Whoops!

  2. It annoys me when someone just takes something that isn’t theirs to take. Especially when most people, like myself, would give them almost anything they would like. I like the idea of considering the theft a praising of our horticultural abilities but just can’t!! To me it is still theft. If, you would like some of the food why nt praise the gardener and request a taste. Heck, you do this with me and I’ll try to grow you a cow…..hehe


    • So very sorry to hear about this theft happening again, Sheryl!! That is just nuts! All the culprit had to do was Ask or perhaps if they couldn’t bring themselves to be so kind, don’t take so much. Leave some for the very person who actually Planted and Tended them! You wouldn’t be able to steal anything otherwise. 😒

      I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that onions were recalled for a certain period of time?! 🤔🤔. Still, leave some for the rest of the group.

  3. When I was in charge of our school garden, we had to deal with theft and vandalism, too. It’s such a pain in the butt. But there is a part of me that hopes at least they got good use out of the vegetables. 😂

  4. A number of years ago my daughter ripped out all the grass in their front yard, put up a short fence and planted the entire area with edibles. Some of the neighbours were not impressed – until fall when she put baskets of veg outside the fence with a sign saying that it was free for the taking. It was the ultimate ‘community’ garden because so many people benefited!

  5. OH, that would make me so angry at first; just before I realized that someone might have needed it more than I do. My vegetables get taken here, but that is what they are grown for. They are on the driveway, where anyone can take what they want. When I lived in town, the so-called ‘gardeners’ from neighboring apartment buildings took my fruit. My fig tree was regularly stripped. One year, on a Friday, we washed all the jars we needed to can peaches, but on Saturday morning, found the tree had been stripped of all fruit. I certainly do not mind sharing, and would be pleased to share fresh fruit rather than can surplus, but I do not put all that work into growing peaches for NOTHING!

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