Vandals Do Over $1,000 in Damages in Master Gardener Demonstration Garden at Springfield Botanical Gardens
$500 Reward for Information Leading to an Arrest
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – During the evening on Sunday, May 29, vandals caused significant damage in the Master Gardener’s Demonstration and Kitchen Garden at the Springfield Botanical Center, 2400 S. Scenic, Springfield.
There is a $500 reward pending for anyone providing information that leads to an arrest.
“Right now, we are estimating a total of around $1000 worth of damage,” said Kelly McGowan, horticulture educator with University of Missouri Extension who co-leads the Master Gardener program. “Our Master Gardeners raise funds to equip and maintain that garden and invest thousands of volunteers hours too so we take this very personal.”
Because of the dollar value of the damage done, this would qualify as a felony.
“Our volunteers recently held a plant sale and raised nearly $12,000, but those funds are all budgeted in the next 12 months for the purchase of new plants and to fund public education programs. Additional funds will be needed for these repairs,” said McGowan.
In the demonstration garden, the low tunnel covering was destroyed and plants pulled out. Vandals overturned the work bench and broke the legs. The cold frame was broken and plants removed. The new roof to the shed was damaged, the work table was overturned, and the top broken. Several terra cotta pots were broken and plastic pots crushed, other plants destroyed, and the plant cart was moved to the railroad tracks.
Master Gardeners Pat DeWitt and Bryan Braley filed a report with city police and the park ranger. Information about the damage has also spread among area volunteers via social media.
“Although vandalism is not a new problem in the Park, this is particularly disturbing because of the amount of damage done. Our volunteers put in a lot of blood, sweat and tears to make these gardens look beautiful for the public and I struggle to comprehend what motivates people to do things like this,” said Patrick Byers, horticulture specialist with MU Extension and co-leader of the Master Gardeners of Greene County.
GETTING A REWARD
There is a $500 reward made available by the Friends of the Garden and Master Gardeners of Greene County. The reward goes to any person offering information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the vandals.
Report any tips to the Springfield Police Department Crime Stoppers tip line 417-869-8477
Master Gardeners of Greene County developed the original demonstration garden in 1994 on land provided by the Springfield-Greene County Park Board.
In 2001, the garden was completely reworked and expanded to include a semi-formal turf plot, a 2,300 square foot vegetable garden (produce is donated to the Ozark Food Harvest). The expansion added a native Missouri wildflower section, a mixed border area of trees, perennials and shrubs, and a herb garden divided into culinary, scented, medicinal, and dying herbs.
MASTER GARDENER INFO
The Master Gardener program is a popular statewide volunteer community-service organization administered through University of Missouri Extension. The organization’s goal is to train gardeners who are willing to share their knowledge with others. Master Gardeners become volunteers of University of Missouri Extension and donate hours for community educational projects in horticulture.
Learn more about the Master Gardeners of Greene County online at http://mggreene.org or contact the MU Extension Center in Greene County at 417-874-2963.