TEWKSBURY — The Tewksbury Library Community Garden was vandalized early Sunday morning. Police responded to reports of a woman sifting through the library dumpster at 300 Chandler St., tossing trash around the area.
Meanwhile, garden co-manager Peggy Bridges had arrived at the garden, located behind the library, to do some end-of season cleanup in the garden and noticed the police cars. When she walked up to the garden, she discovered the damage and called the police officers over.
Further investigation showed that the garden was heavily damaged. Fence posts were pulled out, vegetables were strewn about according to garden members familiar with the situation.
Sona Kazanjian, a garden member, said her tomatoes, green and not yet ripe, had been pulled off and thrown around. Fencing was flattened, and heads of lettuce, zucchini and other vegetables were scattered about. Some of the garden items, such as a hummingbird feeder, were found on the ground.
Sunflowers were uprooted, stalk and all, and apparently carried and placed in other parts of the garden. Flowers by the bunches were pulled up and arranged in an apparent makeshift display by the individual.
Bridges notified garden members of the incident. Several members went right over to the garden and began the clean up and restoration.
“We have a great group of people, who really care about the garden. With all the help, we were able to have the garden cleaned up in a couple of hours,” said Bridges.
The damage was equally dispersed between the 18 individual gardens and the 25 community beds. Community beds are jointly cared for by the volunteers, and the bounty of those beds are sold at the community market or donated to the community pantry. In fact, the garden just sent 60 pounds of potatoes to the Tewksbury Community Pantry, according to garden co-manager Lauren Cunningham.
The produce is for sale every Thursday at the Tewksbury Community Market and also in the library on a cart. Proceeds cover the garden operating costs, allowing the group to grown more produce to donate to the pantry.
Cunningham said members were sad for the loss of the harvest and the hard work that people had put in, but anything physical was repairable or replaceable. It is also near the end of the growing season.
“Tough end to a difficult growing season,” said Cunningham, due to the rain and extreme temperatures.
Members also feel empathy for the person.
Bridges said, “I am extremely grateful for the fact that nobody was hurt, including the woman herself. We have sharp tools in the shed, but she did not go into the sheds at all. I hope she is able to get the help she needs.”
According to the Tewksbury Police Department, the woman was arrested on warrants, and also charged with vandalism.
Residents are encouraged to visit the Tewksbury Community market on Thursday, Sept. 23 behind the Rec Center on Livingston Street to purchase produce from the garden or make a donation. Additionally, garden members will be at Tewksbury’s Fall Festival on Sunday, Sept. 26 at Livingston Street where they will have information about applying for a plot in next year’s garden.