Urban gardens targets of veggie theft

An urban farm

Signs advertise a community garden

A sign placed at the community garden of Jackson Park in Chicago warns potential thieves not to steal food.

TEXT OF STORY

BILL RADKE: A trend in urban living is the community garden. More and more cities have these shared neighborhood gardens, which means they're also dealing with "veggie theft."

Chicago Public Radio's Tony Arnold reports on what it takes to make sure people reap the fruits of their labor.


TONY ARNOLD: I'm standing here in the community garden of Jackson Park located on Chicago's South Side. There's no one around right now and the garden itself is not that big, but it's wedged in between a major road and a golf course. And there's a sign up that says, "Do not steal our food. We work hard to grow our crops. If you'd like to grow your own food, we have plots available."

BEN HELPHAND: I've had things stolen. It's disappointing. It's frustrating. But I've still been able to reap the enjoyment of growing this plant.

Ben Helphand runs NeighborSpace -- a land trust for community gardens. He says vegetable theft in an open space in a city of three million has been a problem since the gardens were created.

Helphand says the best way to prevent stolen veggies is to simply be inviting with the space.

HELPHAND: People are less likely to steal from sites that they know are well-tended and loved.

Helphand says he knows of one garden that purposely grows extra vegetables near the sidewalk -- for anyone to take as they please.

In Chicago, I'm Tony Arnold for Marketplace

Signs advertise a community garden

A sign placed at the community garden of Jackson Park in Chicago warns potential thieves not to steal food.

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