Vandals Strike Nonprofit Lynchburg Grows - WSET.com - ABC13

Vandals Strike Nonprofit Lynchburg Grows

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Fortunately, the water was off when vandals severed the pipes. Fortunately, the water was off when vandals severed the pipes.
Lynchburg Grows estimates about $5,000 worth of damage. Lynchburg Grows estimates about $5,000 worth of damage.

Lynchburg, VA - Leaders from the nonprofit Lynchburg Grows say the program is the victim of vandalism - about $5,000 worth.

The director says this weekend, someone did damage to two of the organization's greenhouses, knocking out the glass and even destroying the computerized water system.

Lynchburg Grows is trying to finish off its capital campaign. They are $20,000 shy of their goal, and this damage is only going to set them back.

Michael Van Ness runs Lynchburg Grows.

"My stomach dropped to the floor basically," said Van Ness as she showed the shattered windows and shards of glass on the floor.

Volunteers from St. John's Episcopal use one of the nine greenhouses. They donate all the produce grown there. Unfortunately, their greenhouse was hardest hit; the water system severed in half.

Believe it or not, it could have been worse.

"If the water would not have been shut off, this greenhouse would have been flooded out, and it would have done untold damage," said Van Ness.

Many are still asking, including Lynchburg police, why would anyone do this?

"We don't believe at this time that there are any objects reported stolen by the property owners, so in terms of motive, that's still undetermined at this time," said Capt. Ryan Zuidema, LPD.

Lynchburg Grows's mission is two-fold: Help the disadvantaged enjoy the healthy benefits of gardening and feed the hungry.

To give you an idea of how important Lynchburg Grows is to our community: Just one bed could produce $2,000 worth of tomatoes, which is then donated to our local soup kitchens.

Lynchburg Grows is volunteer-driven. Just this week, college students from North Carolina are lending a hand. The plan was to spruce up the gardens. Instead, students find themselves picking up the pieces of vandalism too.

"We are just being careful around the glass and picking that up as we see it. But, hopefully, it won't be affecting our work too much," said Natasha Shipman, volunteer.

Lynchburg police would not tell us what, but they have collected evidence that they hope will bear some results in the future. As for the people at Lynchburg Grows, Director Van Ness says they will put their nose back down in the dirt, get their hands dirty and keep on farming.

If you are interested in helping with the damage, you can contact Lynchburg Grows.

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