Students at Kyrene de los Cerritos discovered that their campus garden had been vandalized sometime over the four-day weekend when they returned to school on Monday, Nov. 15.

The garden, where the students were growing watermelons, bell peppers and other fruits and vegetables, was discovered in its mangled state by the first group of “Garden Watchdogs” Monday morning.

Most of the produce had been thrown or smashed and the water key to the system had been stolen, flooding the garden.“It was terrible,” Darcy DiCosmo, Principal for Cerritos said. “The kids were broken-hearted, wondering why anyone would try so hard, go out of their way to cause damage like this.”

It comes at an unfortunate time as the students where preparing to donate their harvest to the Kyrene Family Resource Center, which provides goods to families in the district that are struggling financially.

“All the kids know the purpose is to harvest the fruit and vegetables to donate to the resource center,” DiCosmo said. “And we’re coming into an important time in the holiday season and they won’t be able to donate. It’s just disappointing.”

A police report was filed on Thursday, Nov. 18 by one of the mothers, Sloane Espey, coordinator for the garden.

“What happened was really awful, but it could have been worse,” Espey said.

Cerritos received a $1,250 grant from the Western Growers Foundation and the Arizona Department of Agriculture in August to improve and add to their garden.

Cerritos is one of the last schools to have security cameras installed campus-wide. All Kyrene schools will have their camera systems installed by the end of 2010.

If you have any information please contact Phoenix Crime Stop, (602) 262-6151

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