Community garden vandalised in bizarre attack

Eileen May, Linda Rodgers and Linda Furley with daughter Erin inside the ruined polytunnel. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Eileen May, Linda Rodgers and Linda Furley with daughter Erin inside the ruined polytunnel. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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Vandals have destroyed a beloved community garden in a bizarre attack and even salted ther earth to prevent plants growing in future.

Charity workers in Lochend have been left “devastated” after a bag of salt, which can make soil unsuitable for plant growth, was poured on seed beds at the start of the sowing season.

Returning to the Secret Garden in the Lochend Quadrant on Saturday morning, they found a polytunnel slashed in a “premeditated” attack.

The intruders also smashed off the taps on the water butts, pulled down noticeboards and ripped up a grill before filling a pond with loose stones.

Project worker Ally Hurcikova, who has been involved in the Lochend Community Growing Project since it began in 2011, described it as “sabotage”.

She said: “We have had vandalism before, and a few things stolen, but we have never had anything which appears to have been so premeditated and where people have put salt in the seed beds.

“This suggests it was planned in advance.”

But Miss Hurcikova also said she could not think of a reason why anyone would wish to vandalise the garden.

“We have a really good relationship with people in the area. The garden is always open to anyone to come along.

“We did a consultation asking neighbours what they thought about us doing another project and 43 out of 45 thought it was fantastic.

“While we have a huge amount of support, there are always a few people who don’t like change happening in their neighbourhood.”

Dot Stuart, who is on the charity’s steering group, agreed that it was sabotage rather than simple vandalism.

She said: “It was like they were making a point – ‘We don’t want you there’.”

Lochend councillor Stefan Tymkewycz said he was devastated for all the people who have put in huge amounts of time and effort into the gardens. “I condemn, in the strongest possible way, this terrible act of vandalism,” he said.

But the charity has also been “inundated” with offers of help from groups such as the Edible Gardening Project at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Transition Scotland and the Edinburgh City Mission.

The Lochend Community Growing Project began on a patch of wasteland in late August 2011 with the aim of creating a welcoming green space where residents could come together, learn how to grow their own food, make new friends, and feel happier and healthier as a result.