Heartless thieves rob respite centre garden

GREEN ZONE: Carinbundi client Jeff Maddern waters the vegetable garden which people have been helping themselves to.
GREEN ZONE: Carinbundi client Jeff Maddern waters the vegetable garden which people have been helping themselves to. Mike Knott BUNGDN

AS JEFF Madden pulls himself out of his wheelchair, falls onto his knees and moves to water the Carinbundi herb and vegetable gardens, it's hard to understand how someone could possibly steal from such a giving man.

But on weekends as the sun falls and darkness hides their identity, people are robbing Mr Madden and the disabled Carinbundi respite members of the fruits of their hard work.

Carinbundi social and community inclusion manager Sharyn Larcomb said the constant thefts had led to the unfortunate wind-down of the community garden.

The garden is made up of a series of raised beds built with timber sleepers.

The gardens are shared between Carinbundi and Centacare and were constructed in their current location in the St Mary's Community Centre two years ago.

They are highly visible from the road, and Ms Larcomb said unfortunately it wasn't hard for people to jump the low fence and take the produce.

She said the ongoing costs to replace the stolen goods had taken a heavy toll on the non-for-profit organisation.

"We've paid for soil, for compost, for seedlings, and all the maintenance and someone takes the produce," Ms Larcomb said.

She said security cameras weren't an option for Carinbundi.

"We're a non-profit organisation, we wouldn't consider it," she said.

The community garden originally started five years ago in a different location but, due to a lack of water facilities and other restraints, the productive gardens have been moved to their current location.

Ms Larcomb said the gardens had formed part of many activities at the respite centre including shopping and preparing meals with produce from the gardens.

"The produce we were getting off the garden, we were using for our cooking needs, for the salads the guys were making," she said.

"They've still got a lot of herbs in there but the produce has gone by the wayside a bit."

Ms Larcomb said she just wished people would approach Carinbundi if they wanted some of the produce.

"We don't mind if people come and ask but we know on weekends it gets raided a bit," she said.

Ms Larcomb said the thefts had taken away from the goal of the garden.

"It was for the guys to go up there and take pride in what they'd grown," she said.

"I presume the guys would be pretty disappointed."

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