Maybe it is a museum, but the staff at The Exploration Place didn't expect the museum's garden to be a thing of the past.
Exploration Place had a vegetable garden laden with produce, all of it planted and tended by children. Various programs - preschoolers mostly but also youth in Science Alliance and Fort George Explorers camps, and after-school care - were involved in establishing the garden. More than 400 kids have had their hands somehow in that dirt.
And overnight, the hands of a stealthy thief took the entire crop.
"At least they didn't do any damage. They just picked everything, and I mean everything," said Exploration Place executive director Tracy Calogheros. "I hope that means they really needed it, and if that's the case an anonymous thank-you card to the kids would be nice, to say thanks for all their hard work."
It is not known how the thief or thieves got into the garden. It is behind a chain-link fence topped in barbed wire. It is possible they somehow clambered over this, or went over the train shed that forms one wall. The lock was still on the gate, no cuts were found in the fence, no holes were dug underneath the fence.
One of the museum's summer students noticed, during Friday morning duties outside, that the corn was missing. The initial thought was the wind blew it down, but upon closer inspection it was discovered that all the vegetables - carrots, peppers, zucchinis, everything - were gone although the plants remained unharmed.
"These are preschoolers and we have to explain what happened to all their hard work," Calogheros said. The food was scheduled to be eaten fresh at harvest time, some of it made into preserves for winter veggies, and some of it donated to hunger relief agencies in the city - all for the kids' education and human development. "The kids got to learn about the plant an extra row kind of charitable thinking, so I guess this was just direct donating."