Decimated . . . Gardener Annie Beattie assesses the three plants left, from two full rows of kale. PHOTO: ASHLEY SMYTH

‘‘It’s just pure destruction.’’

Oamaru woman Annie Beattie, who used to tend privatelyowned gardens on the corner of Humber and Trent Sts until the end of last year, said the new gardener was ‘‘pretty upset’’ to see the latest damage by vandals.

‘‘They have come under attack since I’ve been here — 14 or 15 years,’’ Ms Beattie said.

‘‘Now we have a new lady taken over the gardens, and she was jolly upset when I got a phone call from her, to say that somebody’s ripped out the white kaka beak and all the brassicas — which weren’t even ready — parsley, onions.’’

Vandalism had been an ongoing issue at the gardens.

People did not just take vegetables, but had damaged fencing and the compost bin and poisoned and ripped out a lavender hedge. Two security cameras had also been destroyed.

‘‘They’re lowlife. Bloody lowlife,’’ she said.

‘‘I had four feijoas in the past — somebody put an axe through one and then dug the other one out and . . . left it on the ground.’’

Stalls had been set up in the past, to provide a give/take/swap opportunity with the vegetables, but they filled up with rubbish and were taken away in August last year.

‘‘We know times are tough, but people, if they want vegetables they can ring me and ask for them, or come and do some bloody work, and we’ll send people happily away with vegetables,’’ she said.

‘‘Just come and ask, come and do some graft, you know.’’

Ms Beattie looked after another garden in Coquet St, and the produce from there went to Real Foods, with the money going to the North Otago Lions.

They were at a loss for what to do about the continuing problem at Humber and Trent Sts, but asked passersby tokeep an eye out.

The gardens were privately owned, but the vegetables were shared around the community, she said.

‘‘We take them to Real Foods as well, and we give some to our boss, and we give some things to people that have been lovely in the community. So it’s about sharing and about being kind.’’