VANDALS have torched the sheds at a thriving community garden, causing damage costing thousands of pounds.
Gorebridge Community Garden in Midlothian lost equipment including a petrol mower, strimmer, gazebos, a water tank and a compost bin worth a total of more than £5000 after two sheds were set alight.
The project was set up in April 2011 with the aim of bringing the community together by growing vegetables on a patch of land in the town’s McLean Place.
Shona Maguire, project officer at Midlothian Voluntary Action, which helped to set up the garden, said: “It’s just so disheartening. Some of the volunteers are very upbeat and looking to fight back, but others are just gutted by it.
“All our seeds that we were going to plant in the coming year are gone.
“It’s not the first time we’ve been targeted – on Bonfire Night some youths took down our fence and threw it on the fire.
“This time, we’d just had the first harvest from this year’s growing so it is quite a setback.
“We’d harvested onions and they were in the shed drying out.
“I would say if anyone knows anything about who did this, please contact the police as it is important that we catch them.”
The plot of land is owned by social landlord Melville Housing. Volunteers had recently been granted community ownership of the garden for 15 years.
Chairman of the garden Tony Cairns said: “I got up in the morning and looked out of my window, which looks out on to the garden, and saw that the sheds were gone.
“We all put so much hard work in to it and now it has just gone up in a puff of smoke, but we well get back on our feet.”
Those behind the project are hoping to recoup some of their losses by holding a fundraising event later in the year.
Gorebridge councillor Jim Muirhead said: “This a real blow to the community.
“I was really impressed with the project, particularly with the amount of time and effort that was put in to it. Then someone just comes along and destroys it just like that.
The incident happened some time between Friday night and Saturday morning. A police spokesman said: “Officers are conducting local inquiries to identify those responsible for this malicious crime and anyone who can assist police with their inquiries is asked to come forward.”
To find out more about the project, search for Gorebridge Community Gardening Project on Facebook.