An experiment in human nature, of a sort

If anything seems to attract thieves’ notice, it’s big showy fruiting vegetables, such as the squash that will soon appear on these beautiful plants.

The new garden at Albany High is in quite an exposed location. That is to say that, among other things, that trouble-makers must see it all the time. Presumably people who damage things that don’t belong to them drive and bike and walk up and down North Main Avenue. So what were the organizers of this garden thinking? And is it going to be safe without a fence around it?

The first question is easy to answer. In addition to lots of sun, the site is near running water – in Albany Youth Soccer’s snack bar building across the drive to the school’s faculty parking lot. As for the second, well, we don’t really know. But so far, so good. And just maybe there is something positive to be said for welcoming passers-by to stop and take a look, and certainly to stop and visit when one of the growers happens to be present.

Of course it might not work out. A Facebook friend cast doubts on the initiative with this posting: “did the lettuce at the high school go to seed because it wasn’t used?? I drove by the other day, and that is what it looked like. I will cry because i drove by those plants so many times . . . i have never in my life had a real urge to steal anything until i saw those leaves . . . LOL . . . Are those plots are untended now that school is out???”

And our experience at Myers Middle School suggests that big showy fruiting vegetables, like the squash that will grow on the beautiful plant in the accompanying picture, are most vulnerable to theft.

Experimenting and learning from experience – good and not so good – are such big parts of school gardens. Maybe we’ll learn something at Albany High about human nature in addition to the nature of plants that we grow.

—Bill Stoneman

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