Originally Posted – www.transitionpgh.org – July 26, 2011 @ 11:54PM
I was diligently working on “urban farming part 2” when I was interupted by a knock on my front door. As is the normal ghetto protocol I didn’t answer the door. Soon there came another barrage of knocks, I went to our front window to sneak a peak and brandon was standing their making eye contact with me with expression of pure anger in his eyes. I went outside to find brandon and tyreke flipping out about the garden being trashed. I put my shoes on and they took me to the scene of the crime. In the alleys surrounding the Hamnett Place Community Garden was a bloody battlefield of green and ripe red tomatoes, zucchini, acorn squash, eggplants, peppers and watermelon. Victims of an alleyway vegetable baseball game orchestrated by three children and the oldest was 10.
After seeing the damage I ran home and sent an email out to the entire gardener list. I wanted to see the damage for myself again and hopefully be their when the gardeners started showing up. Before I could even get to the scene of the crime I heard several kids coming up the back alley towards the garden. I hid in the middle of the garden and layed in wait, Within moments three kids ran into the garden and started grabbing veggies. I stood up and managed to sneak right up behind them and calmly told them “Stop what you are doing, don’t try and run and what are your names and who is your mom”. Of course they ran, but before they could get far down the alley I see brandon on his bike yelling “I don’t think you are going this way”. At this point the six and seven year olds are crying there eyes out screaming some incomprehensible words at the top of there lungs. They ran the other way down the alley and we let them go, brandon knew where they lived and I felt they had been scared good enough.
Around this time one of the neighbors and plot holder in the garden arrived home. I told her what had happened and she called the cops as I feel was appropriate given the amount of damage. The police were on a priority call and we had to wait about 45 minutes for an officer to arrive. The officer who arrived was in his late 30s maybe early 40s not a rookie thats for sure. We showed him the damage and gave him a description and he took a ride to see if he could go and “pick them up”. 15 minutes later a police cruiser pulls up to the garden with 3 young kids sitting in the backseat. The officer opened the back door of the cruiser and three kids stepped out and the officer asked us if “they were the culprits”. We said “yes” and he said “well then, they’re yours.”
I swear to god this has got to be one of the coolest police officers I have ever dealt with. He wasn’t a dick, he didn’t just blow us off and proceed to the next call. He went to the street where we told him he would find them and easily found them given brandons spot on descriptions. He told there dad what happened and asked if he could take them for a ride. And that’s how they got to us.
We had them pick up the vegetables that they threw everywhere and put them in the compost bin. This ended up being a way to teach three young kids composting basics. They also did a little general cleanup and had to appologize to the gardeners who were present. They told them that it hurt to have something they have worked so hard on to be destroyed and explained that what they destroyed would cost alot of money in a grocery store. I really think this ended well and have the cool wilkinsburg 5.0 to thank for not being dicks and helping us turn an ugly act into a punishment/gardening lesson. I hope that these kids will come back to the garden sometime and give the gardeners a chance to teach them and maybe feed them some tasty vegetables.