You worked so hard to grow your garden, but somebody keeps poaching your vegetables before you can donate them or use them yourself! This is a common challenge facing community gardens. While there are no fail-safe solutions, here are a few good strategies to reduce unwanted harvesting:
- Signage is especially effective, whether it stands alone or is in a kiosk. It lets people know the garden is of and by neighbors, making them less likely to help themselves. Signs can let passers by know when the garden is open to the public, and how to get involved in workdays or tending an allotment plot.
- Community Beds — when you can’t beat ’em, feed ’em. Consider adding or designating one or two beds along the perimeter of your garden for community consumption, adding signage to encourage people to take produce from these beds so that they don’t take from elsewhere in the garden. Most people probably just want a taste, so consider planting your community beds with bite-sized edibles like herbs, cherry tomatoes, and berries.
- Involve your neighbors in the garden with an open house, a planned produce giveaway, or a group workday. When people feel a sense of ownership for and inclusion in the garden, they’ll treat it well.
- Keep things tidy, especially along the sidewalk. When it’s clear that the gardeners respect the space, other neighbors will be more inclined to respect it as well.
- Plant things people don’t want to pick if the same flowers and vegetables keep disappearing. Less familiar plant varieties such as rhubarb or unusual tomatoes can be less attractive to sneaky pickers.
- Locking the garden is an absolute last resort because NeighborSpace gardens are community open space. Designate weekly public access hours when garden members will be present. Make sure hours are posted on signage and members are able to maintain the schedule.