Pupils' vege garden raided

Sara Cohen Specialist School pupils Connor Booth (19, left) and Tony Bryant (20) survey their...
Sara Cohen Specialist School pupils Connor Booth (19, left) and Tony Bryant (20) survey their plundered vegetable patch yesterday. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.

You reap what you sow, according to the Bible.

But pupils at a Dunedin special needs school were left questioning that maxim yesterday. A green-fingered thief has broken hearts by cleaning out a vegetable garden built and tended by Sara Cohen Specialist School pupils. 

''It's getting to the stage we're having to think about investing in cameras - or a Doberman,'' principal Raewyn Alexander said yesterday.

''I got called in three times by our alarm company over graffiti during the Christmas holidays. And now this. How could anyone steal from these kids?

''We'd only just dug up the first of the potatoes. Then, six rows of potatoes and all the silverbeet went last week. On Monday, the big red cabbage and all the broccoli was taken. The kids came to school prepared to use a beautiful red cabbage to make salad in cooking class and it was gone. It's heart-breaking.

''It's just so disappointing and annoying. Our kids all have special needs. They have physical and intellectual disabilities. Whoever has done this has taken from kids who struggle with life as it is. Stealing from them just makes me so mad,'' Mrs Alexander said.

Four raised garden beds were built at the school four years ago and planted with garlic, leeks, onions, potatoes, lettuce, beans, celery, radishes, silverbeet and carrots.

''The kids built the garden beds from scratch. They've done everything themselves,'' teacher Gael Trevathan said.

''They learned how to build the soil up with compost and they even chose the seed. And now they've been stopped from using what they're grown.''

The 17 pupils at the school were struggling to understand the latest theft.

''I'm not happy. It's all gone,'' Tony Bryant (20) said.

''We were expecting to have stuff. But it got stolen from the garden. I think whoever stole it is a thief and I think they're silly. They don't know how much work we put into it.''

- nigel.benson@odt.co.nz

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