Dealing with Theft and Vandalism
Urban farms are often highly visible and accessible, and as such are vulnerable to theft, vandalism, and other destructive human activity. Successful urban farms and farming organizations, such as the Food Project in Boston, MA, suggest the following tips for minimizing these activities:
- Plant planter boxes outside of farm property and/or fencing with a sign indicating that people may help themselves;
- Locate appealing crops away from major streets and sidewalks, and where they are less visible;
- Plant a barrier of sunflowers or other tall crops to limit visibility of farm crops;
- Plan ahead and plant a little extra of popular or easily stolen crops, expecting some loss to theft;
- Clean up debris and lock up all tools and equipment;
- Invest in insurance as a way to recoup losses; and
- Put up fencing (see Factsheet #27 for more information about fencing).
Though all of these suggestions can help to prevent or minimize theft and vandalism, most urban farmers agree that building positive community relationships and promoting community involvement are the surest ways to keep an urban farm secure. See Factsheet #3 on Engaging Communities. Consider an open-gate policy in which all visitors are welcome to tour the farm, talk to passersby and neighbors as much as possible, inform people of plans and goals, or ask for community volunteers. An involved and supportive community will keep a watchful eye on its neighborhood’s urban farm, and help to discourage any destructive activities.