An unpleasant surprised greeted the Te Puke Community Garden staff when they discovered their peanut crop has been stripped.
The crop had been planted with the aim of teaching children to grow peanuts and make their own peanut butter.
“We planted a crop of peanuts this year to show people that peanuts can be grown here in Te Puke, successfully,” says Te Puke Community Garden chairperson Julie Gray.
“We put a little notice on saying they will be getting harvested in April, and we explained they were peanuts that were growing.
“Everything was growing fantastically and things were looking really, really good. At the market on Saturday I said we were harvesting our peanut crop on the 30th of this month, and it was exciting because it was the first time we had ever done it.”
After waiting patiently for the crops to grow, Julie says she came across an unpleasant surprise on Wednesday night.
“I came in yesterday to do the watering and as I was getting the sprinklers I turned around and the peanut plants have been pulled out and stripped. I just about sat down and cried because it was my passion, it was my little baby.
“I rang all of my volunteers that regularly go the gardens and I said did you touch the peanuts? And they hadn’t and I said oh no.
“We put in about 28 plants, and they’ve left eight. So 20 of them had been pulled and stripped. They left the edge plants so it didn’t look like they had been completely all pulled.”
Julie says she is disappointed, and she can’t fence the gardens off because it is council land.
“Cameras will get sabotaged if we put them up. The more resilience you put up, the more we feel that you ask for, and that’s why we don’t go down that road.
“We were going to get the kindy and school kids in and make peanut butter with the peanuts, so it’s a lost cause for that and I was devastated, I really was.”
Julie, who has been running the community garden for three years, says whoever damaged the 20 crops has no idea what they have done to the community.
In future, the peanuts will be grown at a different site to prevent the crops from being damaged again.
“Now, we will just stick with the basic crops at the community garden that we can afford to lose.”