Hamilton community garden founder ‘devastated’ by vandalism

When Alfred Hall arrived at the Hamilton Urban Gardens System (HUGS) on Tuesday to work with some Butler County high school volunteers, he was “devastated” the place had been vandalized for the third time in three months.

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“All of the money, all the goodwill was laying on the ground for no good reason,” Hall said this afternoon. “I was devastated. Really, more disappointed than anything else.”

Hall said HUGS was founded in 2012 and moved from Commerce Park to South Front Street in 2015. He said from then to December 2019, there were no “major issues” at the garden.

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But now frequent vandalism has caused Hall and the board to consider moving or closing the garden that provides free vegetables to Butler County foodbanks and an opportunity for seventh-gardeners to grow vegetables there in the summer.

Hall said someone climbed a fence that surrounds the garden on Tuesday, broke into the Hoop House and shattered 300 pots that were filled with potting soil and flowers seeds. Later this year, the flowers were going to be planted in four Hamilton parks, Hall said.

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Those pots were filled and more than 5,000 pounds of debris were removed at the garden site by volunteers during three days of community service around Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Hall said.

Hall called the destruction “a little kick in the butt.”

HUGS filed one incident report in December with the Hamilton Police Department, and without any surveillance cameras, Hall wonders if the vandals will be caught.

Michelle Merrett, a board member, estimated the vandals have caused $4,000 in damages during the three incidents, mostly the cost of replacing the Hoop House cover.

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