Thieves, Animals and Not
By Amy Kuras
So my last post was this flowery piece about the deer of Palmer Park, and how much I loved spending an evening in their company.
Apparently they were not picking up what I was putting down -- while I was thinking "I am connecting with these beautiful creatures" they were thinking "is that lettuce?" Because when I came back to the garden a few days later, I found three out of four of my very productive romaine heads were sheared down to nubbins by what was pretty obviously animal, not human, means. Obviously I failed to secure my deer netting well enough and they pushed underneath and had a VERY fresh salad. I may have called them some names in my head and fumed "I thought we had a deal! I welcome you, you leave my (and my fellow gardeners’) stuff alone!"
And of course they munched the romaine and a little of the leaf lettuces planted next to it; the more bitter oakleaf red lettuce that was interspersed with the romaine wasn’t touched. They left everything else alone, though.
The next week, we got hit again, and this time wasn’t so funny. I’d noticed that week that my peas were finally getting ready to harvest and could do with a little more time, but I got excited at the prospect of sweet garden peas on our plates. I returned to the garden Saturday to do some chores and watering, and found someone had beat me to it. The netting around the peas had been pulled up and every single plump pod was gone, leaving only a handful that weren’t ready. I suspect human, not animal, activity because the plants were otherwise undisturbed, and no other plant had been messed with – and an adult human who knew exactly what they were going for at that, because only pods that were ready and no others were gone, something a kid would be unlikely to do.
I was pretty mad about it, not only because I’d put a lot of work into those peas but because the garden is such a space of community and happiness for me. The thought anyone would violate that was really hurtful to me – and in talking to my fellow gardeners I found some other folks got hit as well. I decided I’m putting a positive spin on it – maybe those peas went to someone who hasn’t been able to access fresh vegetables for awhile, or were pureed into baby food for a child who wouldn’t get chemical-free food any other way, or were part of a special meal for someone who used to garden but is no longer able to. And I hope that whoever they are, they don’t try it again.
Amy Kuras is Research and Policy Program Manager for Detroit Food Policy Council and member of People for Palmer Park.