Fences Make Good Neighbors

Interesting article by Jesse Hirsch over at  Modern Farmer titled Thievery, Fraud, Fistfights and Weed:  The Other Side of Community Gardens.    Anecdotal evidence that utopia isn’t quite as utopic as some would like to believe.   I’ve always thought the idea of community gardens in theory was grand and idyllic, but had heard from friends of their personal challenges in attempting communal living.   According to Hirsh, these aren’t just fertile soils for fresh veggies, they’re fertile grounds for social strife, rancor and all those distopic behaviors that aren’t so pretty.   Hirsch recounts the following social collapse in one community garden in Queens, New York,

–  grand theft zucchini
– assault with a deadly trowel
– deadbeat plot-hounds who despoil the aesthetics of others with weeds and inattention
– petty thievery of private property (or used to be) such as rakes and water equipment
– dishonesty and destruction of community property
– covetousness, licentiousness and stealing of fertile soil
– slothfulness and living off the bounties of other’s hard work
– clash of culture and racism

Seems the nightmare story in Queens isn’t the only one.  Here’s another string of communal gardeners over at GardenWeb sharing their nightmarish stories.   Strikes me as a good advertisement for Adam Smith’s magnum opus, the Wealth of Nations, and the value of private property in promoting social order and protecting the environment, particularly where private ownership provides a bundle of sticks, including the exclusive, transferable, and enforceable rights to property, thus evoking the natural inclination by humans to take care of property they own and its bounty.   And yet these humorous stories also reinforce the importance of enforceable regulations aimed at monitoring and stopping the antisocial behaviors of scoundrels and cheats.

Once found, I say, off with the heads of those zucchini clochards.