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‘We are devastated and angered’: Hundreds of plants stolen from Newton Community Farm

"We have been here going on 18 years and have never before had theft like this."

Hundreds of vegetables were stolen from the Newton Community Farm over the weekend. But since the theft, the farm has received an outpouring of support from local community members.

The vegetables were stolen sometime between 7:30 p.m. Thursday and 7 a.m. Friday, according to a Facebook post from the farm’s executive director, Sue Bottino.

“Someone, or multiple people, took hundreds of basil, scallions, eggplant, and cucumbers planted in the field and trays of cucumber, tomato, kale, corn, and other seedlings from the greenhouse,” Bottino wrote. “Whomever took these plants knew what they were doing and targeted certain crops.”

Members of the farm are asking community members to be on the lookout for someone selling or entering the gardens with “hundreds of plants,” or vehicles parked on the perimeter of the park between dusk and dawn. Suspicious activity can also be reported to 617-916-9655.

‘We are devastated and angered by what happened’

Bottino described how the culprits aimed for specific plants, first picking leeks and onions while trying to find scallions.


“They took other plants by digging them out from the roots so they could be re-planted,” she wrote. “They removed cloth that was over plants in the field and took them.”

Bottino said the thieves also crawled under tarps picking eggplants and cucumbers.

According to the Facebook post, there were footprints and knee-prints in the soil and the farm contacted local police.

The farm grows many of their vegetables for the community — community supported agriculture sharers, farm stands, local farmers’ markets customers –and to donate to the Newton Food Pantry and Freedge.

“The day it happened we were donating our 60th bag of fresh produce to the Newton Community Freedge in two days, and the next day, we were at the Newton Plant Swap, donating hundreds of vegetable seedlings to people who wanted to garden,” Bottino told Boston.com “We give, we’re giving. It doesn’t make any sense that someone would take such a risk with a community farm; it’s just antithetical to what we do and why we are here.”

The 18-year-old nonprofit serves over 2,000 people a year in the Newton community, and while the farm has never experienced something like this before, Bottino now feels exposed to future risks.


“It’s a farm, so its not like you can just close the door at night and lock it,” she said. “It’s vulnerable, and we’re vulnerable, and our on-site staff is vulnerable. It’s just very upsetting.”

‘We are blown away by all your kind messages’

In the two days since Bottino’s first Facebook post, the farm has received a slew of support from other farms and community members.

In a subsequent Facebook post, Bottino thanked the several people who have called, emailed, and reached out through social media.

“The theft of plants from the field and the greenhouse feels so violating for so many reasons but your messages, comments, and emails strengthen our resolve to keep doing what we are doing here at the Farm,” the post read.

Bottino also said about a dozen other farms have reached out, offering to supply seedlings and other crops.

The farm has created a donation page, where people can donate to “support the work … that we do and help pay for increased security, replacement costs of plants, seeds, and produce, and our overall efforts to feed this community fresh, local produce.”

Going forward, Bottino said the farm plans to implement security cameras and lock the greenhouse doors.


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