ARMY veterans say the theft of dozens of plants from their Mansfield allotment has been a ‘kick in the teeth’ after all their hard work.
The ex-servicemen grow many different types of fruit and vegetables on the Joint Forces Alliance (JFA) allotment, off Broomhill Lane.
But last week thieves twice broke into the plot at night, trampling on plants in the polytunnel and smashing the lock to the potting shed before stealing around 150 spring onion seedlings.
The thugs even discarded the terracotta pots that the seedlings were growing in, taking care to remove the plants from the compost.
Said Paddy O’Hare, who served in the Army for 12 years: “They knew what they wanted and possibly knew where it was.
“We’re very annoyed - we put a lot of work into this.”
Clive Spiller (47), who spent just over five years in the Army, said: “It’s just a load of spring onions to a lot of people, but they were going to go into the ground and it’s food at the end of the day.
“We were looking forward to seeing them grow.”
The allotment is one of the JFA’s projects to help veterans re-adjust to civilian life and Paddy and Clive are working towards NVQs in horticulture as a result of their involvement.
The fruit and veg they grow on the allotment is shared out between the workers, with any excess donated to local soup kitchens and charities.
As well as the spring onions being taken, more than 80 cabbages were trampled on.
Some footprints have been found in the soil on the allotment, but nobody saw anything and no neighbouring allotments have been targeted.
Paddy (54) said that anyone with information should call the police, who have been informed of the crime.
He added: “What they have destroyed more than anything is the hard work, because it is hard work.
“When you get someone walking all over the beds and taking the plants, it’s a kick in the teeth.”
Jason Rathbone, veteran support officer for Mansfield, added: “If someone could come forward with anything that can possibly help us replace the plants, that would be a massive help to us.”