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Posted on Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Vandals destroy produce and carve swastika into watermelon at community garden

By Kyle Feldscher


Various fruits and vegetables lie smashed on the ground after vandalism at the Saline Community Garden Monday afternoon.

Kyle Feldscher |

A post inside the Saline Community Garden bears the words community, health, wisdom and peace around its four sides.

Vandals that smashed produce around the garden and carved a swastika into a watermelon rind must have missed that message.

The garden, located near Woodland Meadows Elementary School off Woodland Drive between Ann Arbor Street and North Maple Road, was vandalized sometime before Monday afternoon. Police responded to the garden just before 3:30 p.m. Monday but it’s believed the vandalism happened during the overnight hours.

Tomatoes were tossed about the garden, along with corn, onions, potatoes and watermelons. On one of the watermelons that was placed on a corner of one of the 22 garden beds, someone had carved a swastika into the shell. Detective Don Lupi said messages such as this are a concern for police.


A swastika was carved into a small watermelon at the Saline Community Garden.

Kyle Feldscher |

“This kind of thing is unacceptable and we take it very seriously,” Lupi said.

According to the Saline Area Chamber of Commerce’s website, the garden community works to promote community building and healthy living. It’s been located at the site since May 2007.

John Dahlgren was one of the first people to see the vandalism when he went to tend to his two plots Monday morning. He said originally he thought a dog had caused the damage due to the digging in one of the plots, but he realized it had to be the work of vandals after seeing other produce strewn about the garden and the swastika-covered watermelon.

He said it’s a shame that people felt the need to ruin the hard work of gardeners who tend to their plots on a regular basis.

“The community garden is something that’s there for the community. People use it and people love it,” he said. “It’s people’s hard work and it shouldn’t be taken advantage of like that.”

Dahlgren said someone had turned the water on and left it, causing much of the ground to be soaked when he arrived.

The area has garden beds named for famous Salinians throughout the town’s history with various vegetables, fruits and other plants growing in them. A gazebo is placed in the middle of all the beds. A gray wallet with black sequins had been left on the table, but investigators found no identifications inside.

A wooden box appearing to be a bird feeder was laid on the ground near logs cut into benches. It appeared as if the vandals had removed it from the gazebo.

It’s Dahlgren’s first year tending plots at the garden and he said he’s not too worried about something like this happening again.

“My personal opinion is it was probably a couple of kids wandering through and they wanted to see what kind of damage they could cause,” he said.

Police had no suspects Monday afternoon and were investigating the incident. Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Saline Police Department at 734-429-7911.

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Wolf's Bane

Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 11:16 a.m.

Saline: Where vegetables are considered evil and reduced to living in gardens.


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 12:13 a.m.

Vandals are not always kids.

Bill Wilson

Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 10:45 p.m.

@ Kyle Feldscher I believe that the garden was vandalized, but how do you know it was the vandals who carved the image? It's equally possible, that one of the gardeners did this in order to draw more attention to the crime. A vandalized garden by itself, is a non-story... but add the swastika, and you've got instant news. And I'd remind you of the college student who claimed racist attacks, only to be caught perpetrating them, herself. Grain of salt, Kyle.

Detached Observer

Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 9:20 p.m.

Let's talk some sense about this here sit-chew-a-tion: (1) When I was a little kid I didn't know what a swastika meant. But I thought it looked neat so I sometimes drew it on things. (2) This could easily be the work of 5-year-olds. They're probably giggling up a storm right now, reading online about themselves and how worked up some grown-ups are on their account. (3)There's no need to do anything unless this becomes a chronic problem. Gardens get "vandalized" by wild animals all the time. I'm pretty sure the cost of cameras, police patrols, etc. would far outweigh the value of the crops that would be saved thereby.

Huron 74

Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 8:46 p.m.

motorcycleminer thinks it a matter of permissiveness, but I think it's due to a lack of respect. Parents let their kids walk all over them, talk back to them and insult them. Thus, they have no respect for anyone, let alone anyone's property. When my Dad said something, it was it and that was that. He lived his life in a respectable manner and earned that ultimate respect. He didn't have to tell us what NOT to do, we knew it because he set the example.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 8:08 p.m.

Obviously these are children that at least two adults can claim to have proudly raised.

Linda Peck

Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 7 p.m.

If whoever did this is caught, a fitting punishment might be a good long fast, say 2 days? Not enough to hurt them, but long enough to feel it.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 8:09 p.m.

Hmm...given the recent news regarding the fact that Michigan is one of fattest states in the country, two days might not be enough to make these kids remember.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 5:17 p.m.

The only way to have a community garden these days is for each plot to have a fenced cage around it covering all sides that is locked. I've seen these in other parts of the country. Cages could still be broken into, but it's much more work. Add cages and surveillance cameras.

Dog Guy

Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 6:40 p.m.

Good cages make good neighbors I always say.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 5:11 p.m.

Install surveillance cameras in this type of property. There will always be punks around looking to damage property. That's the only way these idiots will be caught and prosecuted. This will happen again and again unless cameras are installed. More of this kind of vandalism all around. Earlier this summer, the peony garden at the Arb was vandalized, and every year the UM frat houses steal the top of a huge pine tree at the Arb for their Christmas tree. Punks are everywhere. Even if they are caught, there are few serious consequences.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 4:42 p.m.

These box gardens kinda reminds me of my back yard, (have several) I was able to share some with my neighbors, (watered every night) then the deer and rabbits took over. Love the wild life, so I am over it.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 4:38 p.m.

Gotta love small town America where a "detective" is assigned to track down garden variety produce ninjas. It's great to see that the police department takes messages carved into fruit "very seriously" and promises to uproot any criminal who dares mess up a garden and carve inappropriate symbols into their juicy victems! I hope law enforcement has also considered that this attack may be a distraction for a much more violent flower picking caper across town!


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 4:11 p.m.

They should fingerprint the produce.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 4:07 p.m.

Like a lot of communities where people move to get away from the "others", as well as society in general, racism is alive and well in Saline. Once went to a baseball game where the parents from the other team repeatedly referred to some of our players with the "N" word.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 6:41 p.m.

Where was the baseball game? I grew up IN Detroit and I can tell you than blacks use that word far more than anyelse I have ever heard.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 3:33 p.m.

It's interesting to see how the comments veer from hyperbolic (something like "It's the return of Nazism, etc to not taking the entire situation seriously at all, and laughing at A2 sensitivity. Also there's a lot of causal attribution to kids which, though probably right---at least we hope so--which hasn't been proven. Maybe, for example, it's the work of those who can't stand all the Liberal "greenie-weenie" save the planet stuff. Who knows? ...and that's my point.

Dog Guy

Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 3:32 p.m.

Semiotic watermelons are not necessarily hostile; those who carved 1" holes in some of our watermelons last year were most likely expressing infinite unity and wholeness, something loving.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 2:45 p.m.

This one is hard to figure. It could be international terrorists intent on disrupting our American way of life, or it could be rogue vagrants recently uprooted from Camp Take Notice and now on the wind like weed seeds spreading throughout neighboring communities. Then again, maybe it was kids with broken X-Boxes and time unexpectedly on their hands.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 3:21 p.m.

Why try to make lame jokes about everything that happens? This is a sad incident.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 3:02 p.m.

You assertion regarding CTN is preposterous. Where did the kids with broken x-boxes learn their values? Adults who hold these values, that's where. That's why it's a serious issue.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 2:38 p.m.

Backwards swastika - done by amateur racists, not professionals. Speaks to the level of ignorance anyway.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 2:36 p.m.

If it's backwards is it still a swastika?


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 7:42 p.m.

Be on the lookout for a dyslexic klansman.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 4:58 p.m.

Ironically the backwards swastika is a Budhist symbol for peace.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 3 p.m.

yes it is, but Nazi Germany drew it differently. "Nazi ensigns had a through and through image, so both versions were present, one on each side, but the Nazi flag on land was right-facing on both sides and at a 45° rotation."


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 2:32 p.m.

Just a different opinion on this subject: I wonder if Indians (sorry Native Americans) did it? Maybe their Spirits, who knows! They certainly have a reason to be mad at us! The swastika is and Indian Good Luck symbol and in days long ago this is what the did to the white settlers who came to take their land!

Dog Guy

Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 3:40 p.m.

Watermelons, NewStart, originated in Africa and were not taken from Amerinds.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 3:09 p.m.

It's a Sanskrit symbol, one of the oldest symbols used by man, and very much predates the usage by native americans.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 2:59 p.m.

From Wikipedia. There is a difference, xmo. Nazi ensigns had a through and through image, so both versions were present, one on each side, but the Nazi flag on land was right-facing on both sides and at a 45° rotation.[6]


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 2:37 p.m.

In fact, if you look at the photo of the watermelon, the "swastika" is backward from the Nazi one, and similar to the ones used by the Indians.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 2:36 p.m.

Why would an Indian carve a "good luck symbol" onto anything a settler took from them??? ....Amusing cigar!


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 2:28 p.m.

They should fingerprint the watermelon........


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 5:25 p.m.

Dear anonymous. No, I wasn't trying to be funny! I wondered if maybe they could get a fingerprint off the watermelon. No joke.


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 2:54 a.m.

Is this really a joke to you?


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 2:20 p.m.

When I first saw this article, I thought it was in Ann Arbor.... ....just goes to show you that there can not be a Community garden ...anywhere without surveillance or regular police management. I tried to start a neighborhood compost pile got shot down.... ...probably neighborhood delinquents would have ruined this anyway.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 2:09 p.m.

This is SO SAD and uncalled for! What a waste of food and a blow to the community that grows the produce there together. Shameful.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 1:57 p.m.

The terrible part of these kind of hateful occurrences is that it's the general "acceptance" (by adults) and passing this off as "punks", kids will be kids, and that kind of dangerous rationalization that makes it easy for a lot of people to just say "ho hum" and let it go. What's next? Cross burning allowed with a simple, "Oh, well..." Page two.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 3:18 p.m.

Mixmaster, I see that 6 people have voted your comment down. That only proves your point...society has changed over the years, and not for the better.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 3:02 p.m.

Such hate!


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 2:56 p.m.

Dude, those conservatives you constantly denigrate are not the ones that pass crime off as " will be kids..."


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 1:53 p.m.

Acts of intolerance and hate crimes in Saline again? Such a beautiful town, it is unfortunate...


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 1:50 p.m.

You would think somewhere along in time we would have grown out of racism in this country. Its 2012. Ignorant people with to much time on their hands. And they aren't for sure if it was Kids either. That was just someones opinion. So lets not calls kids Punks and such just yet.

Jay Thomas

Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 4:45 p.m.

You're also assuming it was about racism and not general mischief. One backwards swastika carved in a watermelon is all the proof you need!


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 2:04 p.m.

You would think we've grown, but sometimes it appears otherwise.

Madeleine Borthwick

Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 1:40 p.m.

I have to wonder if this was done by the same group of kids who deliberately smashed out the footlights under the bridge on Miller by Spring St. the rocks used to smash said footlights are still there where the lights used to be. disgusting!!


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 5:15 p.m.

There is still a lot of cleaning up needed around town from all kinds of vandalism. I still see a lot of graffiti around the city that hasn't been cleaned up.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 1:27 p.m.

I feel bad for the vandals... Hell hath no fury like a scorned gardener.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 1:05 p.m.

Maybe it's because I've been reading the latest Game of Thrones where food is scares and people are starving, but this seems like an awful waste. Mixed with stupidity. Or they watched a lot of Gallagher. If caught they should build a new community garden and have to man it 24/7 to keep other pesky kids away.

Huron 74

Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 8:31 p.m.

What scares me is people's spelling. You mean scarce.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 1:01 p.m.

Kids. Bored kids.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 3:15 p.m.

Yeah, blame it on bored kids. No one ever told them that you don't act like this when your bored I guess. I can't wait until society stops shrugging things off...though it probably won't happen. Only gets worse.

Madeleine Borthwick

Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 1:37 p.m.

Bored kids, my" you-know-what." this was pure evil.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 12:23 p.m.

This is very unfortunate -- there are those out there who have no respect for other folks' property and unfortunately no respect for themselves. Hope all things go better with the garden or what is left of it.

zip the cat

Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 12:08 p.m.

And if an when they catch em they'll slap em on the wrist and let em go


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 2:24 p.m.

Exactly the problem. Lack of serious consequences.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 2:04 p.m.

It depends how hard you slap, and how many times.

MI Farmer

Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 11:58 a.m.

Looks like there needs to be a trail camera put up to catch the punks. Then you'll know who needs the whoopin!

Billy Bob Schwartz

Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 2:04 p.m.

They would probably find the camera and eat it.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 11:10 a.m.

Lack of parential controls in an overly permissive society..what do you expect...


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 4:51 p.m.

This kind of mindless violence and vandalism has been going on forever. At least since I was a kid. I remember my elementary school in circa 1968 someone broke in and smashed stuff including my prize winning pinewood derby car that was in the showcase :('s nothing new.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 3:13 p.m.

motorcycleminer, couldn't agree more. Plus the fact that the parents nowadays are so wrapped up in their careers that they don't have the time or energy to be parents.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 12:20 p.m.

Remember what they say about Assumptions.

andy kelly

Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 11:38 a.m.

Change! I believe we all need to expect change.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 10:57 a.m.

Watermelon hate crime? Saline is......different.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 2:22 p.m.

I don't care much for watermelons. . . but corn, onions, potatoes? c'mon now !


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 10:31 a.m.

Punk kids need to get a whoopin.