Community supports Roses for Autism Farm after vandalism

GUILFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The Guilford community has come together to help Roses for Autism Farm, which has been targeted by vandals twice this month. They uprooted plants, broke the trellis and took garden statues from the sensory garden. They put weed killer on all but one of the garden beds.

Though the vandals did a lot of damage, they did not hurt the farm’s will to keep the garden going or the community’s desire to see the project take root.

Crews are still working to clean up the damage. They spent part of the day on Wednesday clearing out the beds. Fortunately, some of the succulents could be saved.

“We’re just trying to focus on the positive, even though it’s a little sad to be pulling the plants out at the moment,” said Michelle Ouimette, Roses for Autism’s managing director.

Something “rosy” has come out of this. The farm has raised about $25,000 in donations – much more than it had hoped for. The community has also given the farm new plants and supplies.

“This is the tough part, and myself, my colleagues, we’re just trying to focus on there’s so much community support,” said Ouimette. “We’re not in this alone. We’re going to rebuild.”

Any money left over after the garden is done will go toward autism programs. The sensory garden is intended to educate the community on autism and bring people together.

“I’m an intern for the greenhouse and Roses for Autism,” said Lee Owens, who was helping with the cleanup on Wednesday. “I get a lot out of it.”

The farm is working to make sure it keeps the vandals away. There will be a gate put at the main entrance and surveillance cameras will be installed on the farm.

“We want to make sure they’re a bit hidden in plain view because we want people to feel welcomed here,” said Ouimette.

Staff hope the garden will be finished by late September.