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7:38 PM Thu, Oct. 18th

Vandals smash fruits of Kingman's community garden

Vandals smashed watermelons and pumpkins at the Dig It Community Garden, which is having its grand opening Saturday. (Courtesy)

Vandals smashed watermelons and pumpkins at the Dig It Community Garden, which is having its grand opening Saturday. (Courtesy)

KINGMAN - Mike Roundy isn't going to let a couple of bad apples spoil the entire Dig It Kingman Community Gardens that he and dozens of volunteers worked so hard to establish this year.

Vandals climbed the garden's six-foot fence over Labor Day weekend and smashed about 20 pumpkins that were being grown for a children's pumpkin pick in October.

The vandalism occurred just a week before Dig It Kingman Community Gardens' grand opening celebration, which is set for 9 a.m. Saturday. The one-acre garden is on the corner of Lillie Avenue and Harrison Street, next to Cecil Davis Park.

"We're not going to let it deter us. That's not going to happen," said Roundy, the Master Gardener who started the community garden in April. "It's a community effort. If you take equity in a community garden, you take equity in your neighborhood."

Whoever invaded the garden and destroyed people's crops are willing to go into your yard, into your car and into your home, Roundy said.

A community garden was established in the inner city of Los Angeles, and even the gangs consider it sacred ground, he noted: "You don't go in there."

Roundy said he saw two watermelons smashed in the garden the previous week and thought it was an isolated incident. When he returned Saturday and saw the pumpkins "blatantly destroyed" and thrown over the fence into the park, he called police.

The culprits know who they are, said Karen Florez, who helped clear the land and put up fencing for the garden. Somebody else probably knows them too, she said.

"If nothing else, shame on you. What do you think you're doing?" Florez said. "It just makes me really sad that somebody or group so disregards other people's property and also something that's for the community. It's just sad."

She added: "I think it goes back to family values and morals. I think the morals of our society have slipped. Also, take pride in the community and what people try to do. So many people here don't take pride in their community."

Garden volunteer Jan Ellwood said she hopes the garden continues to grow, and maybe some measures can be taken to better secure the garden.

"They've put so much effort into it, just the vandalism the other night, that was terrible," she said. "I just think it's pretty pathetic."

Dig It Kingman Community Gardens, donated by Praise Chapel church, leases 5-foot-by-16-foot plots of land for $50 a year. About 20 plots are leased, with the goal of leasing 100 plots. Most gardeners are growing summer crops such as cucumbers, squash, zucchini, peppers and basil, Roundy said.

The gardens are perfect for people who want to grow their own vegetables and flowers, but don't have the available land or tools, said Denise Neath, another Master Gardener who led the community garden effort.

"Some churches have asked for a plot to grow vegetables just for food banks," Neath told the Daily Miner. "Just families, kids growing for the fair, elderly people in apartments. People in this area are low-income and will probably eat most of what they grow."

Anyone who would like to donate pumpkins for the children's event in October is encouraged to contact Denise Neath at (928) 263-1164.