Nova Scotia

Glace Bay Food Bank garden ruined after vandals douse it with fuel

Staff and volunteers at the Glace Bay Food Bank were shocked and angry to discover Tuesday that someone poured fuel over vegetable plants in a chunk of their garden. But they're making plans to continue with their work.

Hundreds of vegetables meant for food bank clients were destroyed by what's believed to be furnace oil

Glace Bay Food Bank volunteer Fred Peach said he was "devastated" by the vandalism that destroyed a chunk of the non-profit organization's vegetable garden but will work to repair as much damage as he can. (Gary Mansfield/CBC)

They're down but they're not out.

The Glace Bay Food Bank staff and volunteers in Glace Bay, N.S., are already planning to rebuild the ruined vegetable garden that held the promise of fresh, healthy food for its clients.

"I had tears in my eyes. I was pretty ripped up over it," said Fred Peach, surveying plants in the garden that were doused with what is believed to be furnace oil.

Very bad news

On Tuesday, a volunteer contacted food bank co-ordinator Patricia Hurley with the bad news.

Someone threw fuel over a big chunk of the extensive garden, ruining the vegetable plants and contaminating the soil. About 200 cucumbers, beet greens and peppers were among food items and plants that had to be thrown away.

Peach was already working to remove the contaminated soil on Wednesday.

"It's not going to knock me down, it is only going to make me stronger," said the garden volunteer who had turned over all the soil at the beginning of the season.

"I was the one who built the cucumber bed that was destroyed, which would have been about 200 cucumbers at the end of the year. That didn't happen. It is very devastating to me."

Took food out of people's  mouths

As he shovelled, he mused about plans for next year's planting.

"Next year, we're going to make this garden 100 per cent better. If someone tells me my soil's fine, the patches will be filled back up before long."

Hurley is shaken by the vandalism.

"I was so mad here yesterday, I was crying," she admitted.

"I can't believe that someone would actually destroy something that we have been working so hard on for the last few years, to provide vegetables for people that can't afford vegetables. This took food out of people's mouths. There's kids that are going to do without because of this."

Enhancing security system

She said the food bank has cameras around the property but they couldn't identify who destroyed the garden because it was too dark to see.

That's about to change.

Next week, light sensors will be installed, Hurley said. "So if someone comes around they're going to be seen."

Donations arrive

Gary Barrett dropped by with $150 worth of fresh vegetables during the cleanup Wednesday.

"Why not, they need help," he said.

He urges others to step up and help out too.

Cape Breton Regional Police are investigating the crime but have not made any arrests, a spokesman said Wednesday.

With files from Gary Mansfield