Early this spring, Edith Gillis jumped at the chance to tend a community garden plot with her neighbors. Their Earl Boyles Community Garden was a verdant oasis in the heart of the struggling Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood.
Each of the 16 garden plots tucked in the shadow of Kelly Butte in Southeast Portland was snapped up almost immediately and became bountiful, thriving monuments to summer.
But Gillis arrived at 6 a.m. Wednesday to find half the gardens leveled by vandals. "I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach," said Gillis, a mother of two. "I can't afford to buy this food at a grocery store."
Vandals had struck the garden several times during the week, but in the wee hours of Tuesday they wrought the most damage. "They took some tools that were stored there and chopped the heck out of the gardens," says Pohl-Kosbau, who works for the Portland Bureau of Parks & Recreation. "It was wanton destruction."
Water spigots were turned on full blast and left to flood the gardens for hours. It was the fifth -- and most devastating -- strike since late April.
Neighbors who witnessed the vandalism refused to talk, saying they feared retribution.
Gillis, like many at the garden, relies on her plot to supplement her family's diet. Without the fresh corn, tomatoes, beans and squash she grows, she and her two children would eat little more than rice and beans, she says.
"I haven't been able to afford fresh corn in years," she says.
They call them "Community Gardens" because they serve the community. Why anyone would be so callous and heartless to destroy something that literally takes food from someone's mouth and the mouths of their children is a mystery to me? Apparently, this is the fifth attack since April.
You can read more about the attack and the impact it has on local families in the community here. If you want, you can also call the Portland community gardens office at 503-823-1612 if you wish to donate veggie starts, garden tools, or produce to the Earl Boyles Community gardeners.
Have you seen similar attacks in your communities? How have you dealt with them? You can discuss this attack or others here.