Sandy Hill parish trying to forgive after garden vandalized before harvest

Volunteers at the St. Joseph's Parish discovered vegetables had been ripped from the ground and equipment damaged over the long weekend.

Vegetables from the garden are used at St. Joe's Supper Table and the food bank

Christopher Adam, executive director of St. Joseph's Parish, stands next to the community garden that was damaged by vandalism over the August long weekend. (Christine Maki/CBC)

Members of St. Joseph's Parish are seeking answers after their community garden was damaged in an apparent act of vandalism over the long weekend.

The damage was discovered by volunteers on Tuesday morning. The church's community kitchen, St. Joe's Supper Table, then posted on Facebook about how some of the garden's bounty had been torn from the earth.

"Someone or some people came in and they pulled out almost all of our tomatoes, our peppers, many of our herbs, most of our plants. We probably lost over two-thirds of our garden," said Christopher Adam, the parish's executive director.

Adam said it's unclear what happened, since there were no security cameras pointed at the garden.

"We had volunteers come in that morning, and even though they were grappling with what happened, they tried to salvage what they could," Adam said.

The garden is maintained by volunteers and people who receive food from St. Joe's Supper Table.

Adam said the lettuce crop has been big enough to supply salad for a whole week this year, with roughly 100 people eating at St. Joe's per day.

"Our plan to serve healthy meals to the community using our own garden, using our own space, unfortunately is going to be a lot more difficult to implement," he said.

'Just work even harder'

Aeden Jenish, 19, is a summer student who's volunteered "off and on" at the Sandy Hill church over the last two years. 

"It's just really frustrating, because we don't know why they did it," said Jenish.

"And there's not much we can do about it, other than just work even harder to make more produce and make the garden beautiful again," he said.

Adam said the parish is trying to follow the Roman Catholic teaching of forgiveness, but the situation makes it difficult.

He said he doesn't want anybody to leap to conclusions about who could've been responsible for the garden, because that could further marginalize some group.