Think community gardens are sweet cooperative spaces where a neighborhood can come together to cultivate food and companionship? You poor sucker. Modern Farmer has the lowdown, and it’s pretty low. Turns out those idyllic little greenspaces are actually hotbeds for theft, hard partying, vandalism, and culture clashes.

Among the horror stories ModFarm has collected:

  • A woman in Galveston, Tx. said her neighbors decapitated her sunflowers, like some kind of botanical Game of Thrones.
  • Trendy, feckless types in Hollywood sometimes join community gardens, then leave their plants to rot because it’s too much work.
  • One garden that installed locks to keep people from pilfering vegetables found that the miscreants just started stealing the locks.
  • Parties in the gardens sometimes include drinking and drug use — and sometimes the drugs are fresh-picked. The Los Angeles Community Garden Council has had to dig up pot plants on several occasions.
  • Gardens in Boston, Tampa, and Houston have experienced thefts of equipment totaling hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
  • A Polynesian gardener in L.A. says her neighbors have been trying to drive her out — by, among other things, chopping down her plants — because she’s the only non-Hispanic garden member.
  • A child knocked over a blueberry bush, which the bush’s owner describes as “a nightmare situation.”

OK, so some of these are more serious than others, but the point is, community gardens are fertile beds of strife. As Julie Beals of the LACGC put it to ModFarm: “People have this idea, because it’s a ‘community’ garden, you’ll have a bunch of people sitting around holding hands, singing ‘Kumbaya.’ Have you seen an actual community?”

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