Heartless vandals destroy a year’s worth of harvest planted by disabled people
1 July 2014
by Jane Compton
I write this with a heavy heart. Ten days ago I was devastated to discover that our much-loved gardens at Bells Piece in Farnham had been trashed by vandals. A year's worth of harvest, lovingly planted and nurtured by a group of disabled people, destroyed in a single act of vandalism.
This has left many of us in tears. Here at Bells Piece we are very proud of our horticulture project. More than 30 disabled people are supported to grow, choose, prepare and cook nutritional meals for a healthy life. It gives them a wonderful sense of ownership and pride.
Visitors coming to see us will no longer be able to enjoy the yellow sunflowers smiling at them as they drive into our home — a greeting that has become a tradition. The vandals have snapped all the heads off.
Rhubarb plants were pulled up and thrown around the paddock. This valuable produce enables us to make jam which we sell in our shop. This helps us to raise enough money to buy more seeds. Our potato harvest, which is a staple ingredient in many of the dishes we use to cook, has also been ripped out.
A group of disabled people from Bells Piece recently learnt how to make a potato salad with broad beans and grilled courgettes — all of which they had grown themselves. I can’t describe the pleasure on their faces as they sat down together to eat it. Nurturing a vegetable from seed and then learning how to cook it into a nutritious meal has changed their lives.
This mindless destruction has not just had an immediate effect on us. Much of what we were cultivating would have been used throughout the year. For example, the cut flower seeds we had planted in our raised beds would have been used to make wreaths for Christmas.
It has been very upsetting for the disabled people who are part of Bells Piece. This project has been their lifeline and they get so much out of it. We all do.
But out of this bad situation something good has happened. We have seen how much we are valued by the lovely Farnham community. People have donated plants and offered to help us. All this support is amazing and we are so grateful.
However, we still need more help to rebuild our beautiful gardens at Bells Piece. To help us do this, we have set up a fundraising appeal to buy a security system that will stop this devastating vandalism happening again. It will also enable us to replace tools and buy new crops and seeds. We are grateful for any donation that will help us to continue this much-loved project.
- £5 could buy a replacement rhubarb plant or cut flower plant
- £10 could buy three bags of compost
- £15 could buy gardening tools
If we raise £350 we could buy CCTV cameras to help make the garden more secure.
Jane Compton is a senior support worker at Bells Piece activity and skills group.