The Clinton Township Senior Center “Garden of Life” was stripped of approximately 300 pounds of tomatoes, zucchini, carrots, peppers and cucumbers around Labor Day.

The Clinton Township Senior Center “Garden of Life” was stripped of approximately 300 pounds of tomatoes, zucchini, carrots, peppers and cucumbers around Labor Day.

Photo by Alex Szwarc


‘This is a tragic turn for the garden this year’

Senior garden stripped of about 300 pounds of produce

By: Alex Szwarc | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published September 22, 2021

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CLINTON TOWNSHIP — A community garden operated by seniors received some troubling news earlier this month.  

The Senior Center “Garden of Life” is run by the Clinton Township Senior Center Garden Club, consisting of about 20 volunteers. The garden was established about eight years ago.

Debbie Travis, Clinton Township Senior Adult Life Center assistant director, said the garden was stripped of approximately 300 pounds of tomatoes, zucchini, carrots, peppers and cucumbers over the Labor Day holiday weekend.

Travis believes the food was taken for a purpose, and it didn’t appear malicious.

The garden is located outside the Clinton Township Senior Adult Life Center. It includes about 20 raised beds, six tabletop garden beds and a large in-ground garden.  

“It is accessible to everybody, and we have pathways and a dog park, so a lot of people pass through,” Travis said.

Typically, 80% of the produce from the garden is sent to area food pantries.

“This is a tragic turn for the garden this year,” she said.

Travis said the unfortunate part of the heist was that the produce was to be donated to local food banks for veterans and those in need.

“Our seniors are very disappointed, as they have worked diligently to exceed last year’s 1,500 pounds of produce donated,” she said.

Travis indicated the last time garden club members were in the garden was the morning of Sept. 3. By Labor Day, Sept. 6, she said it was all stolen, and some produce was destroyed.

Cameras are around the building, but since it happened at night, Travis said the footage is spotty.

“It was like, ‘Boy, somebody really picked a lot of tomatoes last time, and gee, what happened to the cucumbers?’” Travis said. “Then, there was the realization that the crop had been picked.”

The incident allegedly involved carrots pulled and thrown to the side, green tomatoes picked and various other crops removed.  

Travis said when one of the garden members reported the incident to her, she had tears in her eyes.

The group will discuss how to deter future theft and vandalism, with the goal of getting back on track next year.

Clinton Township Supervisor Bob Cannon said he was disgusted by the news.

“Your group takes such great pride, and their work … is so appreciated,” he said. “Please tell them how sorry we all are and how proud we are of them.”

Cannon said the township will find out how to stop an act like this from happening again.

“The township can’t give money to a charity,” he said. “They were raising all this food for the food bank. I just hope it was somebody who needed it, but I don’t think so. If you really needed it, you would take what you need for a couple of days so it’s not noticed. Then go back another time.”

Last year, about 1,500 pounds of produce was donated. Prior to the incident, the plan was to donate about 900 pounds this year.

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