Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Help pours in after theft at community garden

ST. PETERSBURG — The theft of gardening equipment from a community garden in a modest city neighborhood has elicited sympathy and numerous offers of help.

"I am a gardener, so that touched me," said Karen Goodrich. "I empathized with them losing their tools like that. I just wanted to help in some way."

The loss occurred a little over a week ago, when thieves pried open a shed at 2519 Third Ave. S and made off with two ground tillers, a lawn trimmer and a push mower.

"I went down this morning to Home Depot and Lowe's trying to price them to replace them and right quick, two pieces of equipment cost $612," Lurlis Simmons, 82, president of the Palmetto Park Neighborhood Association, said late last week.

"I said, my Lord. They just took the more expensive stuff."

Police have no leads.

The neighborhood holds memories for Pinellas School Board member Rene Flowers, who lived there until the early 1990s.

"My roots in the neighborhood go way back," said Flowers, who was a St. Petersburg City Council member when the community started the garden on a vacant city-owned lot in 2001.

Flowers said she wanted to help as soon as she learned of the theft and approached several other politicians to do the same. Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch immediately agreed.

"We just want to lend a hand and help them get back on their feet," Welch said.

Margaret Christian, who moved from West Virginia a few years ago, called to offer a push mower that she has been unable to use on "tough Florida grass."

Others, like Wayne Bowen, a retired pharmacist who contacted the Tampa Bay Times about helping, said they admired the gardeners' community spirit.

"I was just impressed with how much time they spent growing the vegetables and giving them away, just the passion for what they are doing," Bob Tatangelo said. "I think something that worthy and of that much value needs to continue."

The small group of older residents who have held the neighborhood association and its community garden together are grateful.

"It was kind of shocking that people would respond to something that happened with us. It makes you feel good again," said Christella Wilson, the neighborhood association's secretary.

Retired truck driver Moses Manning, 73, discovered the theft. He and neighbor Benjamin King, 58, are devout gardeners at the 50- by 127-foot residential lot the neighborhood leases from the city for a nominal fee. He and King were about to prepare for the fall planting of produce including collard greens, cabbage, peppers, tomatoes and turnips when the tools disappeared, he said.

Manning said he and King are anxious "to get something growing so we have something to pass out" to elderly neighbors.

Longtime St. Petersburg resident Scott Stewart said he will provide a gift card to let the Palmetto Park gardeners know "there are enough people around who want to help them to get back on their feet."

"It's amazing how people reach out to help you," Simmons said.

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at or (727) 892-2283.

fast facts

To help

Contact the Palmetto Park Neighborhood Association at

Help pours in after theft at community garden 08/02/13 [Last modified: Friday, August 2, 2013 2:20pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Gov. candidate Chris King: Climate change is biggest threat to Florida's economy


    Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King today made his case for how economic growth and fighting climate change go hand in hand. His rivals for the Democratic nomination, Gwen Graham and …

    Winter Park businessman Chris King and his family
  2. Editorial: Buckhorn's proposed tax increase is too high for Tampa


    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn's proposed city budget for 2018 confronts some hard realities of the times. With debt payments looming and another fire station opening in fast-growing north Tampa, the City Council needs to consider raising property taxes, especially with the prospect of another homestead exemption around the …

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s proposed city budget for 2018 confronts some hard realities of the times. But it seems overly ambitious, and the City Council should be cautious about raising taxes too much in a single swoop.
  3. The next step in a sex abuse survivor's recovery: Erasing her tattoo


    Times Staff Writer

    TAMPA — Even after 20 years, Sufiyah can't escape the memories of being sexually exploited by gang members as a teenager.

    The tattoo makes it impossible.

    Sufiyah, an aAbuse survivor, prepares to have a tattoo removed  at Tampa Tattoo Vanish  on Thursday. During her teen years, she was sexually exploited by a gang. The tattoo is a mark of her exploiters. 

Tampa Tattoo Vanish is a new tattoo removal business run by Brian Morrison, where survivors of human trafficking get free tattoo removal.  [CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times
  4. Cridlin: Linkin Park's Chester Bennington had a wail that stood apart

    Music & Concerts

    For all the old-timers' talk about how they don't make singers like they used to, about how rock vocalists of the 21st century can't hold a candle to the frontmen of yesteryear, here's a fact no hater could deny:

    Chester Bennington could flat-out wail.

    Chester Bennington of Linkin Park  performs at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa for the 2014 Carnivores Tour. [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
  5. Police investigating shooting in north Tampa

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — Police were investigating a shooting in north Tampa Thursday that left one person seriously injured.