Community Garden Vandalized

gardenSometime after 11 AM, Friday, Coalinga’s Community Garden on Pierce Street was vandalized by unknown subjects. The damage has not been completely assessed because of poor lighting at the time of discovery this evening.

Alma Sanchez, who is the treasurer for imaginarium was startled to see the destruction as she went to the garden as she often does, following a day of work. She immediately contacted Mary Jones, director of imaginarium (the nonprofit which oversees the garden) and briefed her on the situation.

Jones and Sanchez documented the damage Saturday morning and contacted Coalinga Police to file an incident report.

Sanchez was disturbed by the damage because it seemed so senseless and destructive. She had been accumulating small garden miniatures to create a fairy garden as part of the larger project, but all of those pieces were completely smashed by the vandals.

In direct contrast to these despicable deeds, some of the best motives and qualities of Coalinga residents and friends were demonstrated Friday morning when Kelley Erisman gave Jones a check for $5,000 for the garden project on behalf of Seneca Resources.

The large cactus in front of the garden’s entrance on Pierce Street was brutally attacked; stabbed repeatedly with a piece of metal torn from a garden ornament also destroyed by the vandals. Not only was the cactus stabbed, but many paddles were sliced from it and strewn around the garden. All the ‘apples’ on the cactus were ripped off and thrown on the ground, some smashed and smeared.

“It isn’t as though someone came and harvested some of our fruit,” said Jones. “It was a senseless and brutal attack on the plants we have nurtured for three years.”

In the side cactus garden, other plants had been ripped from the earth and one nearly three foot tall mature cactus owned by Jones had been hack to a height of just over a foot. The plant’s value at a mature size as it was, would be nearly $100, minimally.

A large cluster of Aloe was also chopped with no intention of actually using the medicine given by that plant. The pieces hacked from it were tossed into the dirt outside the bed.

The many ceramic pieces collected by Sanchez, Jones and others at the garden were smashed, Garden ornaments hanging or sitting on posts were also smashed. Ironically, signs about the serenity and beauty of a garden were beyond recognition.

Toys in the children’s sandbox play area were torn apart and ruined. Solar lights were ripped out and smashed.

While it could have been worse, it is definitely a disappointment for those who continue to work in order to provide a community garden to the residents of Coalinga. When Coalinga Police Officer Tony Hendrickson asked if the garden would want to prosecute the offenders if caught, Jones replied that mandatory hours in the garden working with the gardeners would be a fair call.