Stolen spuds a head scratcher

A community garden on the West Shore that donates several pounds of food to families in need in Victoria had 50 pounds of potatoes stolen.

A community garden on the West Shore that donates several pounds of food to families in need in Victoria had 50 pounds of potatoes stolen last week.

The teaching garden, located at the Westshore Centre for Learning and Training on Sooke Road, is a project between the Victoria YMCA and School District 61, that began eight years ago.

Throughout the year, students grow zucchini, squash, potatoes, tomatoes, coloured beans, salad mixes, carrots, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries, along with a variety of herbs.

During the summer, the YMCA harvests the produce once a week and donates several pounds to the Kiwanis House, Camp Thunderbird and the Pandora Youth Apartments, a housing program for youth.

But on Aug. 10, harvesters discovered an entire row of potatoes had gone missing.

“I came back from holidays and it turned out an entire row of potatoes from our garden had gone missing and when I say a whole row, I mean 50 pounds of potatoes in a 24-hour period,” said Krista Lavoie, teaching garden coordinator at the YMCA.

Some dried onions and peppers had also gone missing.

According to Lavoie, each week they pre-plan their weekly harvests to determine exactly what needs to be harvested and how much can be donated.

“[Potatoes] are a really good staple, especially for Camp Thunderbird who are doing huge quantities of food for the hundreds of kids they have,” she said. “All the food has been accounted for and it’s all being used, and it really changes what we can offer these families when it just disappears.”

She has since filed an incident report with the West Shore RCMP.

“We will investigate any criminal act or alleged criminal act that is reported. We’ll look at all avenues of investigation,” said Cst. Alex Bérubé with the West Shore RCMP, adding that they haven’t had many cases of thefts from community gardens.

Lavoie has also put up signs notifying people of where the food goes and said they will consider installing a motion sensor camera in the fall.

“It’s trying to find, are these people who need food taking food or it is people who are misinformed who think the garden is just a space for anybody?” she said. “If somebody walks through and they pick an apple, I think that’s fabulous. It’s when you actually sneak and take it in large quantities, that’s when it becomes unfair.”