For the second time this year, a community farm on Rochester's northwest side has been vandalized.
Organizers say someone must have broken into the Lexington Avenue Urban Farm sometime last Friday night, causing an estimated $1,000 in damage. A hole was cut in the perimeter fence, a hoop house was damaged, and some garden equipment was stolen, but Mitch Gruber, who oversees the program for Foodlink, said the most disheartening loss was about a dozen fruit trees.
"The trees were just hacked up...they were kind of disfigured and probably won't be able to bear fruit. That's a real shame, because it takes a lot of time, commitment, and investment to get fruit trees to bear fruit."
The 1.3 acre site is farmed by 60 families. The vast majority of them are refugees. Gruber said they are resilient people. Three families were back at the farm Saturday morning, tending to their plots and harvesting food for that night's dinner.
"The goal now is that we now try to drive a whole lot of visibility and drive a lot of public engagement at that space,” he said, “so that people feel safe and folks who are interested in vandalism don't spend time there."
While Gruber calls the incident “sad and frustrating”, but he considers the vandalism a minor setback. “This is a huge opportunity for us as a community - the Northwest community, the various neighborhood associations - to come together and say 'this kind of behavior is not tolerated, and in fact, we all really believe we need to invest in places that are such a vibrant part of the community."
Foodlink is considering installing security cameras at the site.
The organization says anyone who wants to help can designate the Lexington Avenue farm as the recipient of a monetary donation at www.foodlinkny.org. If you want to volunteer or donate a fruit tree, you can email Nathaniel Mich at "firstname.lastname@example.org"