GUILFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — “They broke the trellis, they took the rose bushes. Over here is where the fence structure was being installed and that’s been knocked over,” said Michelle Ouimette, Managing Director for Roses for Autism.
Vandals have hit the Roses for Autism farm twice since the beginning of June. They’ve uprooted plants, taken garden statues and even went as far as to sprinkle some kind of plant killer on all of the beds.
“It was going to be a way to educate the public about how individuals with autism are impacted, bring the community together. We wanted families with children with autism to be able to come here so their children could look around and learn about themselves, a place where there wouldn’t be any judgement.”
Ouimette says on June 1st, they discovered the rose bushes had been torn out. They called police and responding officers were so moved by the crime they actually took up a collection and purchased new plants to bring the garden back to life. On June 12th, vandals struck again, this time doing even more damage.
“The plants that the police had donated, those were lilies, had been taken. This really exotic plant called a Yucca plant, a rhododendron, all the big blooming flowers were taken,” said Ouimette.
Ouimette says it took about 1000 hours of work to get the garden done. All of it was done by volunteers and individuals with autism. Ouimette says those who have been a part of the project are devastated.
“Yesterday there was one young man, he had built one of these garden beds right there and the entire day he stood watch right at the window there waiting for them to come back. I mean he felt violated,” said Ouimette.
A ribbon cutting ceremony scheduled for June 24th has been canceled. The plan now is to install surveillance cameras on the property and a gate at the front entrance. They will replant and rebuild once those security measures are in place.
“We just van’t understand why this has happened,” said Ouimette. “I just can’t imagine who or why you would destroy a sensory garden that was meant for the community.”