Reporting Michael Rosenfield
CONCORD, N.H. (CBS) — Sadiqi Sadiqi is a refugee from Africa now living in New Hampshire and growing produce at the Sycamore Community Garden in Concord to help put fresh vegetables on the table.
“It tastes good,” says Sadiqi. “That’s why we like it.”
It is not easy work for the dozens of people, mostly refugees and lower-income families, who work their plots from spring to fall.
“There’s a pond down there and people have to haul water from that pond,” said Cheryl Bourassa, project manager for the garden. “This is soil that’s compacted, you have to work it really hard.”
So imagine the frustration when someone swooped in and stole from the fruits of their labor, swiping everything from cabbages to eggplant to peppers.
“And he took a ton of food, including way more food than any one family would ever be able to eat,” said Bourassa.
The gardeners saw the man put the produce in his vehicle, and while they were too afraid to confront him, they had their cell phones and took pictures, even getting down a license plate.
“We work a lot and he came and picked the garden, so it’s no good, we don’t like that,” said Sadiqi.”
The cell phone pictures taken by the gardeners were turned over to police who then arrested 29-year-old Francisco Sorrentino III who is from nearby Boscawen.
The garden coordinators say it was selfish, but are trying to give the thief the benefit of the doubt.
“They heard it was a community garden, maybe an assumption was made that it was available to anybody to come and pick food for their families,” said Steve Caccia, Vice President of Student Affairs at New Hampshire Technical Institute, where the garden is located.
But police say Sorrentino knew what he was doing and have charged him with two counts of theft.
He is due in court in November.
The garden coordinators say the stolen crops were worth hundreds of dollars.
About 131 families grow crops in the garden.