Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Thieves hit Palmetto Park community garden tool shed

The theft was discovered by Moses Manning, right, who gardens with his friend and neighbor Benjamin King, left.


The theft was discovered by Moses Manning, right, who gardens with his friend and neighbor Benjamin King, left.

ST. PETERSBURG — Two ground tillers, one red lawn trimmer, a green push mower, all missing.

That's what Moses Manning discovered a week ago at the small community garden he and a handful of neighbors faithfully nurture in a fenced, vacant lot.

With the fall season fast approaching, the loss comes at an inopportune time for the Palmetto Park Neighborhood Association community garden.

"Right now, we're trying to get it ready for replanting," said Manning, 73, a retired truck driver who works the soil with friend and neighbor Benjamin King, 58.

"We go down there and do all that hard work and for somebody to come down and steal those tools, it doesn't make any sense," Manning said.

Lurlis Simmons, 82, president of the neighborhood association, is disgusted about the theft of what he estimates to be about $800 to $900 worth of equipment.

"We just bought some of it. The tillers were the most expensive thing we had," he said.

The thieves pried open the doors of a storage shed on the property at 2519 Third Ave. S, police spokesman Mike Puetz said.

"We have no suspects or leads," he said.

The garden, used to grow collard and mustard greens, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, eggplant, sugar cane, peanuts and more, flourishes on a 50- by 127-foot residential lot the neighborhood has leased from the city since 2001. Bruce Grimes, the city's director of real estate and property management, said the lease is $10 per three-year period.

Simmons said the community garden got its start with the help of Eckerd College students.

"They came out and they were taking a survey and we got to talking about how we could help the elderly people," he said, adding that whatever is harvested is distributed free within the neighborhood. "We've got a lot of elderly people. They hardly come out of their house a lot of time. We share it with them."

Grants helped to get the project started, Simmons said. Volunteer gardeners have included a Boy Scout troop and church youth groups, including one from nearby New Covenant Baptist Church, he said. Last year, the garden was a project of CareFest, an annual citywide volunteer program that helped the neighborhood prepare for fall planting, said Susan Ajoc, the city's director of community service.

Still, much of the work in the community garden is done by Manning and King, who "are there all the time," Simmons said.

"We have been down there about three years," said King, who had a garden in his back yard, but gave it up to have a safe place to park his truck.

This week the pair harvested okra to share with their neighbors.

"They appreciate the stuff that we grow and give to them," Manning said. "But now they stole all our tools, we're having a hard time getting things going again."

The neighborhood association is taking measures to stop the thieves, Simmons said.

"We're taking turns now to see if we can catch whoever it is," he said. "After all this time of being in there, it never occurred to me that it would ever happen in a community garden."

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

Thieves hit Palmetto Park community garden tool shed 07/30/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 30, 2013 3:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Lightning picks defenseman Cal Foote


    While the Lightning is still trying to bolster its blueline via trade, it selected a big, right shot defenseman Cal Foote at No. 14 overall Friday in the NHL Draft.

    Cal Foote is the son of former Avs defenseman Adam Foote.
  2. Kids today: They don't work summer jobs the way they used to


    WASHINGTON — It was at Oregon's Timberline Lodge, later known as a setting in the horror movie The Shining, where Patrick Doyle earned his first real paycheck.

    Teens Ben Testa, from left, Hannah Waring and Abby McDonough, and Wegmeyer Farms owner Tyler Wegmeyer walk the strawberry rows at the Hamilton, Va., farm in late May.
  3. Jeb Bush back in the hunt for the Marlins, now opposing Derek Jeter


    Associated Press:

    Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has switched sides in pursuit of the Miami Marlins, and he’s trying to beat out former teammate Derek Jeter.

  4. The Lightning's 2017-18 road jersey
  5. Legalized medical marijuana signed into law by Rick Scott

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a broader medical marijuana system for the state, following through on a promise he made earlier this month.

    Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation on Friday that legalizes medical marijuana in Florida.